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Jaguars 2019 position group breakdown: Defensive Lineman

Brandon Carroll



Jan 7, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell (93) runs onto the field before the game against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

As we finish up our series on positional battles here on Locked On Jaguars, it’s time to take a look at the big men down front on the Jacksonville defense. One that in the past few years has been very stingy in terms of yardage allowed and overall production. They have relied heavily on them to win games due to the poor offensive play. A huge part of that success is due to the defensive line.

In previous seasons, the Jaguars defensive line has been the strongest position group in terms of depth and pure talent on the team. A group that has consistently been atop the league as one of the best pass-rushing units. In the draft, the Jaguars added arguably the best pass rusher in the nation coming out of college in Josh Allen to complement the other lineman on the field. Allen looks to take on a big role for the defense and help them to elevate the unit as a whole in 2019. 

Projected Depth Chart: 

DE: Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell, Josh Allen, Dawaune Smoot, Lerentee McCray, Lyndon Johnson 

DT: Marcel Dareus, Taven Bryan, Abry Jones, Eli Anoku, Dontavius Russell 

Yannick Ngakoue 

With ongoing contract disputes, Yannick Ngakoue has not reported to training camp and is a concern going into the season. Ngakoue is one of the most explosive defensive players in the NFL with a knack for getting to the football.  Ngakoue looks to holdout until the Jaguars make an offer that he feels is suitable in comparison to his play and production on the field. 

If Ngakoue continues to stay away from the facility, the Jaguars are at a huge disadvantage. Him not being there will have an impact for the rookies on defense as they will lack a leader to follow and it could cause them to stunt in growth without the dynamic presence of Ngakoue on the field to mentor them and create a smooth transition to the NFL. A guy that secured 25 tackles and 9.5 sacks last season could be a huge help in fine-tuning rookie Josh Allen for his first season in the NFL. 

In his fourth year out of Maryland, Ngakoue has exceeded all expectations given to him when he was drafted in the third round. He quickly became one of the most dynamic players on the end of the line has a chance to earn a huge payday soon before the preseason kicks off August 8th in Baltimore. 

With the amount of production Ngakoue has shown in terms of pass rush in his three years in the league, Jacksonville is attempting to work out a deal that will work for both sides. 

Calais Campbell 

On the other end of the line, there’s one of the biggest powerhouses on the Jacksonville defense. Calais Campbell came over from Arizona before the 2017 season and finished his first career game with the team with 4 sacks against the Houston Texans. Campbell is a leader on the defensive line and his veteran experience has allowed for more discipline upfront. 

Coming off a season where Campbell leads the Jaguars in sacks with 10.5, Campbell looks to continue that dominance and help lead a Jacksonville team that has the potential to produce wins on the defensive side. Campbell has started every game since arriving in Jacksonville and looks to continue starting in some capacity along the defensive line once again this season. 

With the effectiveness Campbell has shown in recent years, the Jaguars have truly bought in on the idea that he is the most important piece of the defensive puzzle — at least for the time being. Seeing how he handles himself and his body as he continues to age will be huge if the Jaguars look to stay successful upfront. 

The starters — as of right now — on the interior include Taven Bryan and Marcel Dareus. Two large forces that are monsters against the run game, and can create inside push for edge rushers to get to the quarterback on pass plays.

Taven Bryan 

Bryan is in his second year out of Florida and looks to take on the role he was drafted for in the post-Malik Jackson era. Bryan — or the Wyoming Wildman — is attempting to make the full transition he struggled to make last season. If he can live up to the expectations he was given when he was drafted in the first round just a year ago. 

Marcel Dareus

On the other hand, Dareus is undoubtedly one of the best interior run stoppers in the league today and has the experience to mentor backups such as Jaguars draftee Dontavious Russell out of Auburn or Eli Ankou. Dareus has matured since arriving in Jacksonville from Buffalo and has played well for the Jaguars in that time. Accumulating 32 total tackles, a sack, and one forced fumble in 15 games. While the number is not eye-popping by any means, his stature upfront causes a problem for opposing teams to run game. Especially in short yard situations. 

Josh Allen

Next, is quite possibly one of the most important backups on the team in Josh Allen. Allen, — arguably the best pass rusher coming out of college this season — was a steal for Jacksonville at 7th overall. Allen combines is a mixture of size and speed to be able to get after the quarterback and drop back into coverage when necessary. 

The biggest plus is his ability to play in coverage as a linebacker. The versatility he brings to the table could be huge due to the lack of linebacker depth Jacksonville has this year without Telvin Smith. Having guys that can drop back into coverage on tight ends will be a tremendous advantage for Jacksonville. Although Allen is unlikely to take many snaps at the linebacker position, he illustrates great versatility and athleticism which is key to providing the most impact along the defensive line.

Backup defensive ends

The backups at defensive end round out with Dawuane Smoot, who continues to develop in the backup role at defensive end and has shown the coaching staff he can get it done when on the field, Lerentee McCray who brings a powerful punch to the special teams unit and has even seen time as a linebacker in previous years for the Jaguars. As well as, Lyndon Johnson who was brought back in after Zedrick Woods abruptly retired from football before even seeing the field in the NFL. 

Backup Defensive Lineman

Abry Jones looks to continue being utilized as a rotational lineman in certain situations, and will likely play many snaps this season at defensive tackle for the Jaguars. As for Eli Anoku and Dontavious Russell, they will each fight for playing time and could even see the field if an injury arises on that defensive line. 

There are many talented players on the Jaguars defensive line that can hold it together. The biggest question right now is whether or not Ngakoue will return with a renewed contract. That looming idea that he may not be paid could start to cause problems and lead to the dividing of the locker room on the situation if the Jaguars front office isn’t careful. Paying Yannick seems to be the viable option right now. But, how much is enough in Ngakoue’s eyes?

It’s imperative that he gets what he deserves for the ship to run smoothly on the defensive line in 2019. 

Brandon Carroll is a 19-year-old college student aspiring to be involved in sports media. He has been writing for Locked On Jaguars for about many months now and has published multiple articles during his time. His love for the game of football is apart of who he is as a person and he continues to showcase that love through writing.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

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

Demetrius Harvey



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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Jacksonville Jaguars

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

Demetrius Harvey



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



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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