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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars lose starting quarterback Nick Foles, game in terrible fashion

Demetrius Harvey

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Sep 8, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles (7) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Where the Jaguars go, pessimism follows, and this was absolutely the case during their 40-26 home opener loss against the Kansas City Chiefs.  

The Jaguars came into today’s game without starting left tackle Cam Robinson, however, that would end up being the least of the Jaguars worries on the day.

Following a beauty of a 35-yard touchdown pass from Jaguars starting quarterback Nick Foles to receiver D.J. Chark, Foles was seen favoring his left shoulder and was immediately ruled out of the game. Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew would be forced to enter the game in his stead.

Minshew led the Jaguars to 16 points the rest of the way. Although it did not seem very impressive, the ball control and outstanding pocket awareness he displayed is something to be hopeful for, for the future.

After the game, it was discovered Foles broke his collar bone and will be out indefinitely. Foles will have surgery on his left clavicle tomorrow.

Foles described this collarbone injury worse than the one he incurred in 2014, “This one’s worse than 2014,” Foles said after the game on Sunday. “At the same time, I’m optimistic that it will heal quicker. I look forward to getting back out there with the guys and Gardner [Minshew II] did a great job stepping up.”

Although unlikely, if Foles does return to the Jaguars after being placed on short-term IR, he will be eligible to begin practicing the week after the game against Cincinnati, and ready to play week 11 against the Colts.

The hits would not stop there, however, as the Jaguars defense allowed an unprecedented amount of yards to the firey Chiefs offense. In typical Patrick Mahomes fashion, the quarterback completed 25 out of 33 of his passes for 378 yards and three touchdowns on the day.

The Jaguars defense did not do their now-rookie led offense any favors during the first half after allowing Mahomes to throw for 313 yards and two touchdowns. A few drives after Foles was sidelined for the day, Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack got into it with Chiefs receivers Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson. After throwing a punch, Jack was ejected and would miss the remainder of the game. A complete disaster on defense which led up to the expected result today.

Jack was signed to a four-year, $57 million contract extension with $33 million guaranteed just over a week ago.

After the game, Jack apologized for his indiscretions and says he let down the city, his teammates, and coaches.

“First and foremost, I have to apologize to my team and the city of Jacksonville because that is not how we conduct ourselves in any way,” Jack said shortly after the game on Sunday. “In the heat of the moment I just felt like when Sammy Watkins ran a route that was not a route and came and hit me underneath my chin, I put my hands up and he stood over me and said something to me so I pushed him and next thing I know, someone pushed me from behind.”

Regardless of the situation, Jack knows that is not how he should be conducting himself on the field, and not being out there with the rest of his teammates, made him realize that. This is the second time in two seasons a Jaguars captain has been ejected for punching someone on the opposing team. Last year, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette ran onto the field during the game against the Buffalo Bills and punched a Bills player. Fournette was suspended for leaving the bench, Jack will likely not be suspended.

By the time the fourth quarter came around, Mahomes had already thrown for 363 yards, and two touchdowns with a passer rating of 142.6. Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins accounted for nine receptions, 198 yards and three touchdowns on the day. The Jaguars simply had no answer for Watkins or anyone on the Chiefs offense for that matter.

The Chiefs did not even punt until five minutes remained in the fourth quarter.

Ultimately, the Jaguars looked similar in their execution on defense as they did during the 2018 season. Only this time, it was not completely due to the ineptitude of the offense, instead the defense shared the brunt of the blame.

If the Jaguars are going to rebound from a loss such as the one today, it will have to be done quickly. The Jaguars coaching staff can ill-afford to limp through the season with a team showing no heart, discipline, or sense of urgency.

Quick thoughts: 

  • Lack of discipline: The Jaguars defense today was devoid of any discipline, sloppy in coverage, and completely against the Chiefs offense. For how much the Jaguars brass has tried to preach discipline, it must have fallen on deaf ears Sunday. Aside from the Jack ejection, Jaguars safety Ronnie Harrison was flagged for taunting during the game and was completely out of position for at least two long receptions by Chiefs receiver Watkins, and tight end Travis Kelce. The lack of dicipline did not only come from the Jaguars defense, however. As a team the Jaguars incrued 10 penalties for 71 yards.
  • Receiver D.J. Chark has himself a day: While the Jaguars offense wasn’t exactly fiery today, there were a few bright spots. One included receiver D.J. chark who has seemed to find his groove after a disappointing rookie season. Chark on the day caught four passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Including a long 69-yard reception from Minshew.
  • The pass rush will help during the season: While the Jaguars did not record a sack today, the pass rush was still persistent. The combination of Calais Campbell, Josh Allen, and Yannick Ngakoue will prove fruitful down the line. All three players have pressures on the day, and if it weren’t for a couple of penalties, would have had multiple sacks. While the rest of the Jaguars defense seemed lost, the defensive line held strong.
  • Minshew might be okay: While Minshew will go through some growing pains, he has the right mentality to lead the Jaguars this season. On the day Minshew completed 22 out of 25 of his passes for 275 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. While a majority of his passes came in the short variety, the Jaguars showed today the types of playmakers they have on offense. As long as the Jaguars offense limits turnovers, they ought to be relatively okay on offense heading into the rest of the season.
  • Jaguars will have a tough road ahead: The Jaguars will have a pivotal matchup against the Texans in Houston next week. The following week they play the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night at home. The Jaguars will have to learn from today’s mistake if they want to be successful moving forward. A complete lack of discipline will cut the season short just three weeks into it.

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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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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