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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars 53-man roster projection: Too many cooks?

Demetrius Harvey

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Jun 11, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars work out during mandatory minicamp #1 at the Dream Finders Homes practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars have ended their mandatory minicamp and are officially into a five-week dead period when it comes to the NFL offseason.

As such, there is no better time than now to have an early projection for the 53-man roster. Are there too many cooks at the wide receiver, offensive line, and linebacker positions? That might not necessarily be a bad thing, but the Jaguars will need to choose wisely who they end up releasing.

Quarterback (3)

Nick Foles, Alex McGough, Gardner Minshew

Thoughts: The Jaguars could roll into the season with two or three quarterbacks. Currently, I would lean towards them retaining all three as there are questions whether or not Minshew will make it through waivers. McGough is the current favorite to be Foles’ primary backup heading out of mandatory minicamp. Lee is nothing but a camp arm. This situation is very fluid.

Running Back (4)

Leonard Fournette, Ryquell Armstead, Alfred Blue, Benny Cunningham

Thoughts: At running back, the Jaguars made sure to bring in as many as they could seemingly find. Rawls looked great during the offseason thus far, however with Blue performing well it will be hard for Rawls to make the team. Cunningham seems secured as the teams’ speed back as a contrast to Fournette, Armstead, and Blue.

Wide Receiver (6)

DJ Chark Jr., Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook, Marqise Lee, Keelan Cole, Terrelle Pryor Sr.

Thoughts: This is one of the Jaguars position groups with “too many cooks”. Not that it is necessarily a bad thing as talent has been lacking at the position for years, but it makes it a struggle to nail down who will make this team. At this point in the offseason, no one has really looked disappointing and at the same time, only a few have really stood out.

I fully expect Conley, Westbrook, Chark, and Lee to make it in some capacity. The only question with Lee will be whether or not he will start on the PUP list, which the guys — T Wigg and Filip Prus — discussed on a recent Locked On Jaguars podcast.

It will be rather interesting to see if UDFAs Tyre Brady, Dredick Snelson, or Michael Walker will make the team or if the Jaguars will go with veterans they know. One player to watch out for is C.J. Board who has been putting on a show thus far this offseason.

Tight End (4)

Geoff Swaim, Josh Oliver, James O’Shaughnessy, Ben Koyack

Thoughts: Until we really see many standouts from the position it is hard to cut incumbent 53-man roster players O’Shaughnessy and Koyack. Oliver and Swaim are presumably locked to make the team. It will be interesting to see how UCF UDFA Michael Colubiale and former Tulane TE Charles Johnson perform during training camp.

Offensive Line (9)

Cam Robinson, Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, A.J. Cann, Jawaan Taylor, Will Richardson Jr., Josh Wells, Cedric Ogbuehi, Donnell Greene

Thoughts: The Jaguars have stacked this group after it was injury-riddled during the 2018 season. Without pads, it is hard to determine which fringe players will make it.

Will Richardson has moved around during the offseason at guard and tackle and could prove to be a valuable swing player moving forward. Wells, Ogbuehi, and Greene are possible depth players with Greene being the only rookie to make it besides Taylor along the offensive line.

Defensive Line (9)

Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, Taven Bryan, Yannick Ngakoue, Abry Jones, Josh Allen, Lerentee McCray, Dawuane Smoot,  Dontavius Russell

Thoughts: I really wasn’t quite sure what direction the Jaguars would go at this position. It is hard to determine who is really playing well without pads on.

The first six or seven players listed are practically locked to make the team with McCray as a special teams player.  Smoot, Russell, and Jones will be competing for a few spots with Eli Ankou, Michael Hughes, Andrew Williams, and Kalani Vakameilao. The Jaguars could keep 10 here instead and opt to go lighter at another position, potentially.

Linebacker (6)

Myles Jack, Jake Ryan, Quincy Williams, Leon Jacobs, Ramik Wilson, Najee Goode

Thoughts: Myles Jack will be the Jaguars starting middle linebacker until further notice, and that’s about all we really know about the Jaguars linebacker group. With Jake Ryan returning during training camp it will be interesting to see where the Jaguars place him. The Jaguars could place him at the SAM position ahead of Leon Jacobs.

This is another position the Jaguars added plenty of players to during the offseason and it will be really difficult to figure out where everyone is playing. Thus far during the offseason, Ramik Wilson and Quincy Williams have been competing at weakside linebacker.

Cornerback (5)

A.J. Bouye, Jalen Ramsey, D.J. Hayden, Quenton Meeks, Tre Herndon

Thoughts: This group is pretty cut-and-dry until proven otherwise. Meeks has played plenty of starter reps with Jalen Ramsey missing most of OTAs, and Herndon has always been well-liked by Jaguars staff. He will be the favorite to backup nickel corner D.J. Hayden.

Safety (4)

Ronnie Harrison, Jarrod Wilson, Cody Davis, C.J. Reavis

Thoughts: Cody Davis is an ace special teams player, and will likely make the team with Ronne Harrison and Jarrod Wilson starting at free and strong safety. Reavis is competing with incoming UDFAs Zedrick Woods and Andrew Wingard. The final safety spot will likely be finalized during the preseason.

Special Teams (3)

Logan Cooke, Josh Lambo, Matt Overton

Thoughts: Not many thoughts needed here. Lambo and Cooke played well, especially for Cooke down the stretch. Overton has been on and off the Jaguars roster ever since Carson Tinker injured his knee a couple of seasons ago. He officially has landed the starting long snapper position.

Demetrius Harvey is the lead editor for the Locked on Jaguars website covering breaking news, breakdowns, and more. You can follow him at @Demetrius82 on twitter.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Marc

    June 22, 2019 at 9:56 am

    I’m seeing this the same way. Koyack may lose out to one of the undrafted guys you listed as they both have some college experience blocking out of the backfield. Valuable with no FB on the roster.
    That final LB spot will likely come down to a DeCamillis ST determination. There are some interesting prospects at safety, WR, and corner likely headed to the P.S.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Texans: Five observations, red zone issues remain

Demetrius Harvey

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Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) throws under pressure from the Houston Texans defensive line men during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn--USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) will be left with a lot to work on during their bye week. There was plenty to gather from the team’s 26-3 loss against the Houston Texans (6-3) in London.

1. Jaguars red-zone woes are still prevalent and have no fix in sight

In the red zone this season, the Jaguars have completed 34.5% (10/29) of their opportunities for touchdowns.  This ranks only better than the Cincinnati Bengals (33.33%) in the entire NFL.

While quarterback play is an issue in this area, the Jaguars have not made the most of their play-call opportunities either. The Jaguars entered the Houston Texans’ red zone only twice in 11 drives on Sunday.

During the two drives in the red zone, the Jaguars completed 0 passes and ran the ball one other time with Leonard Fournette for three yards. Simply not good enough.

Jaguars’ offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has spoken about the team’s ineffectiveness on red zone opportunities. “We moved the football well, but we need to do a better job in the red zone,” DeFilippo said on Thursday following the team’s week seven victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. “I need to do a better job of helping our guys get open. We need to do a better job executing and being more detailed and throwing the ball on time and all of those things. Again, all of that starts with me, and I will do a better job with that.”

Two weeks later and the team’s struggles have continued.

2. Gardner Minshew might take a backseat

Already discussed, the Jaguars might be in for a quarterback change coming out of their week 10 bye week. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew struggled mightily in Sunday’s game, and head coach Doug Marrone will have a tough decision to make.

Although Minshew was playing with a sore right shoulder, he was able to practice in full all week leading up to their matchup at Wimbley. Regardless, the Jaguars will have to make a decision, and everything points to Nick Foles being the team’s starting quarterback against the Indianapolis Colts in week 11.

Now completely Minshew’s fault, his struggles in the red zone have been evident for the past several weeks. Foles — during the 2017 and 2018 seasons when he started for the Philidelphia Eagles — was efficient in the red zone, which could point to his maturity as a passer more than anything.

The Jaguars will want to see what they can get out of their veteran quarterback, and there is a reason to believe the Jaguars’ head coach is leaning in this direction. If Foles is not named the starting quarterback next Sunday, it is very likely the veteran will never start for this Jaguars team, at least not under the current staff.

3. Jaguars’ run-defense regressed

Without starting nickel corner D.J. Hayden and SAM linebacker Leon Jacobs, the Jaguars were forced to remain in their nickel package for much of the day. Rookie cornerback Breon Borders replaced Hayden in the starting lineup and while he was not the reason why the run defense suffered, not having a competent linebacker on the strong side of the ball impacted the team greatly.

Texans’ running back Carlos Hyde gashed the Jaguars’ defense 19 times for 160 yards during Sunday’s matchup. Part of the reason why the Jaguars were unable to stop the Texans’ running game late was the sheer amount of plays the Texans ran to begin the game.

In the first quarter, the Texans ran 20 total plays while the Jaguars offense was only able to produce nine total plays.

4. Jaguars cannot rely on penalties, but two changed the course of the game

While the Jaguars should not, and cannot rely on penalties, the team had two costly controversial calls in the third quarter of Sunday’s matchup.

With an opportunity to score, Minshew threw a beautiful back-shoulder pass to Jaguars’ receiver DJ Chark Jr. who was able to haul in the pass but was called for offensive pass interference. A few plays later the Jaguars would botch a field goal attempt and give the Texans the football at the 50-yard line.

Following the change of possession, Jaguars’ defensive end Calais Campbell was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Specifically, Campbell was called for lowering his head to initiate contact with a defenseless rusher. The Texans would net only a field goal on this drive, but it was a potential 10-point swing as Chark’s interference call was questionable, and Campbell did not even touch Watson on the play.

5. Keelan Cole shines in Dede Westbrook’s absence

Although the Jaguars clearly missed their 1B receiver in Dede Westbrook, rarely-utilized receiver Keelan Cole was able to step up to the plate and put on his best performance of the season, and possibly since 2017.

While it was not sensational, Cole hauled in five out of six of his targets for 80 yards on the day. The Jaguars could not get anything going down the field, however, Cole was able to get open on routine crossing routes.

In the coming weeks, look for Cole to have a bigger role in the Jaguars offense, especially with veteran receiver Chris Conley playing so up-and-down (2 receptions on 7 targets for 32 yards).

DeFilippo recently spoke about Cole and understands the third-year receiver may be frustrated with his snap count.

“I am proud of the way he stayed in it and even though he has not gotten the playing time,” DeFilippo said after the Jaguars victory over Bengals. “Everyone wants to play every snap. I’m sure he wants [more playing time]. He has done a great job staying in it.”

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Jaguars to make tough decision next week, Minshew Mania over for now

Demetrius Harvey

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Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) throws a pass in the first half against the Houston Texans during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) were embarrassed early Sunday morning via a 26-3 loss to the rival Houston Texans (6-3). Minshew-Mania may be over for now, but it won’t be the last time the rookie sensation starts for the team.

To put it simply, rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew did not play well at all yesterday. Completing 27/47 (57%) of his passes for 309 yards, two interceptions, and two fumbles lost, Minshew looked lost during the second half of the game on Sunday.

Minshew has been everything the team could have hoped for — and much more — out of a sixth-round quarterback, but between what transpired yesterday, and a few of his past performances — against winning teams –, the Jaguars will likely see what they can get out of veteran quarterback Nick Foles.

For three quarters, Minshew looked okay. While there was plenty that went wrong, the rookie was able to make key throws, during key situations. One play, in particular, stands out. With a little over five minutes left in the second quarter, the Jaguars could not seem to get anything going before Minshew scrambles around and eventually finds a wide-open Ryquell Armstead in the middle of the field. Armstead would take the ball 31 yards and set the team up for their only points of the game.

Minshew’s ability to improvise has been his bread and butter this season, and although he was not able to work his magic often against the Texans, these were the types of plays that gave pause in the Minshew/Foles debate.

During the fourth quarter, the Jaguars and Minshew were forced to take more shots downfield in a sort of desperation move while trailing 19-3. Although playcalling can certainly be questioned, the decision making of the Jaguars’ rookie quarterback was equally perplexing. Throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles, Minshew had no chance at making a little magic to lead the team to another come-from-behind victory.

Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone will be forced to make a decision on his quarterback, but not right now. After the game, Marrone indicated he will wait until the Sunday before the team returns from their week 10 bye week to talk to both quarterbacks.

“I think after those 48 hours are over, I’m going to step away a little bit, take a break because I don’t have to make a decision and have time,” Marrone said shortly after the game when asked about making the quarterback decision. “That’s what I’m going to talk to the quarterbacks about, and then I’ll tell them probably right before we come back on Sunday, we’ll be able to discuss where we’re going to go. That’s pretty much my plan.”

While Minshew did not have a great game yesterday, the decision will be made on more than just one game, Marrone said.

The Jaguars’ head coach is stuck with an incredibly tough decision. At 4-5, the team needs a spark. The Jaguars need to win down the stretch and having to rely on a rookie — still going through ups and downs — is exhausting. While Foles may not be “the answer”, he is the only other option at this moment, and the Jaguars absolutely believe in the veteran.

Although this may be the end of Minshew starting in Jacksonville this season, his achievements — 188/307 (61%) completions for 2,285 yards, 13 touchdowns, and four interceptions — should not go unnoticed. The team absolutely still believes in the rookie quarterback, and he has a golden opportunity — if not this season — next year to prove everyone wrong.

One of the best, most fun performances out of a Jaguars’ quarterback over the first half of the season ever, is nothing to get upset about. Minshew provided spectators with Minshew-Mania, Minshew-Magic, and any other Minshew-ism one can think of.

For now, it is very likely Foles will make his Jaguars’ debut once again after breaking his left clavicle during the opening game of the season. In 11 plays this season Foles completed five out of eight of his passes for 75 yards and a touchdown.

It may be over for now, but this is just the beginning, and having the problem of deciding between a former Superbowl MVP and a rookie sensation at quarterback is a good thing. Depending on how Foles plays — if he is to be named the starter next Sunday –, Minshew could get yet another opportunity as the Jaguars progress from their 4-5 record.

Bonus clip:

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars fail to seize opportunity in London, falling 26-3 to Houston Texans

Demetrius Harvey

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Nov 3, 2019; London, United Kingdom; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) rushes for a first down during the first half of the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn--USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) fell to Houston Texans (6-3) in a disappointing pre-bye week game in London, England. The Jaguars absolutely did not have home-field advantage on the day. 

The Jaguars took to their annual London voyage with a lot of optimism, however, all of that optimism was quickly quieted by the Houston Texans (6-3) as they were able to bottle up Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars, holding the team to just three points on the day.  The Texans would win 26-3 and kill any chances the Jaguars may have had at earning the division title in a few weeks.

To begin the game, the Jaguars opted to start out on defense with the Texans struggling early on in games this season. Holding the Texans to just three points to start the game, the Jaguars defense showed up big, especially as Jaguars’ cornerback A.J. Bouye shadowed Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins who finished with just eight receptions for 48 yards. The Jaguars seemed to find a groove early on during the first half of the game, but their inability to score in the red zone reared it’s head yet again.

In what is likely his last game starting for the Jaguars this season — at least for now — Jaguars’ rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew completed just 27 out of 47 of his passes for 309 yards and two interceptions. Minshew also fumbled the football two times near the end of the game, which would ultimately end it at Wembley stadium.

While the Jaguars defense played well early on, they stood no chance against Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson who completed 22 out of 28 of his passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Extremely elusive, Watson was able to escape from the Jaguars pass rushers all day long. The Texans effectively ended any chance of the Jaguars coming back after Watson completed a long throw to Hopkins for 21 yards to the Jaguars’ one-yard line. The Texans would score on a one-yard run by Duke Johnson putting the team up 19-3 late in the third quarter.

All four of Minshew’s turnovers would come in the fourth quarter as the Jaguars attempted to climb back in the game. Missing their second-most targetted wide receiver in Dede Westbrook, the Jaguars and Minshew couldn’t seem to get anything going in the passing game.

The Jaguars’ run game was equally disappointing today as running back Leonard Fournette could only edge out 40 yards on 11 rushes.

Perhaps the best play of the game by the Jaguars’ defense, near the end of the game Texans’ running back Carlos Hyde sprinted free and was looking to go into the endzone when Jaguars’ safety Jarrod Wilson showed incredible hustle to force a fumble at the last second, turning the ball over to the Jaguars’ offense.

The good fortune wouldn’t last long, however, as Minshew would go on to throw his final interception of the game to completely seal the game for the Texans offense.

The Jaguars’ offense simply did not get anything going today, similar to their game against the New Orleans Saints in week six earlier this year. Minshew was sacked only four times on the day as the Texans did not want him to escape the pocket.

The team will have a very tough decision to make during their week 10 bye week. Ultimately, the team will need to decide between veteran quarterback Nick Foles or the rookie quarterback in Minshew.

Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone will be making the decision, and after falling 26-3 today largely due to the play of the team’s quarterback, it may be a no-brainer.

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