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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Titans preview: Keys to success, matchups to watch

Demetrius Harvey

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Sep 8, 2019; Sep 8, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; General view of Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) helmet on the bench prior to the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Kansas City Chiefs at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Distractions, distrust, disobedience. The Jaguars will have to overcome it all in order to gain a victory on Thursday against the Tennessee Titans. 

This week, the Jaguars will play host to the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football. Typically, an 0-2 team facing their archnemesis would have nothing but the game on their minds — especially in a short week. This week, however, has been derailed due to the unexpected trade request by cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

As the Jaguars are wont to do, they have positioned themselves in a terrible spot, and have no one to blame but themselves as to why Ramsey wants out of Jacksonville. First, however, they have a game to play.

Game Time info

  • When: Thursday, September 19th, 8:20 PM  ET
  • Where: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
  • Watch: NFL Network, CBS47 locally (click)
  • Listen: Jacksonville 1010XL AM, 92.5FM

Five Keys to Success

  1. Stay healthy
    Staying healthy is still the theme of the season. Luckily for the Jaguars, they are getting healthy just in time for their most important matchup of the season against the Titans. Cornerback A.J. Bouye (hip), left tackle Cam Robinson (knee), and swing tackle Cedric Ogbuehi (hamstring) should all be good to go for tonight.
  2. Contain Derrick Henry
    The Jaguars are well aware of the 99-yard touchdown run that embarrassed the team last season. While they are all sick and tired of seeing it, the team will still need to be fully aware of Titans running back Derrick Henry’s presence. Containing him, as they have done sometimes in the past will go a long way to winning this football game. 
  3. Don’t get distracted
    This team cannot afford to get distracted. At 0-2, tonight’s game becomes a must-win and getting distracted by the ongoing trade rumors surrounding their star cornerback should not affect them. The players say they are focused on the task at hand but will need to prove it.
  4. Figure out the offensive line
    Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said on Wednesday during his post-practice press conference that Cam Robinson and A.J. Cann will be starting tonight at left tackle and right guard, respectively. However, Marrone also indicated that he would not be surprised if guard/tackle Will Richardson and swing-tackle Cedric Ogbuehi get some playing time. The Jaguars need to figure out their five best offensive linemen and play them for the remainder of the season.
  5. Free Gardner Minshew
    Last week the Jaguars let rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew loose for the final possession of the game. This week, they will need to let him loose the entire game. There’s no reason to have kid gloves on Minshew anymore. The running game has been almost nonexistent the first two weeks of the season, and the offensive line is finally getting healthy. Let Minshew-mania rock the bank tonight, and hope the “Souther Swagger” connection between himself and receiver DJ Chark, continues.

Key Matchups 

  • Myles Jack vs. Derrick Henry
    It is well documented what went down during their last matchup, and one player who is well aware of the Play? Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack. Jack was one of the key players who missed multiple tackles on Henry during the teams’ last meeting. Jack will need to be on his A-game tonight as the Titans absolutely will look to recreate it.

  • Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Jalen Ramsey
    This is kind of tongue-in-cheek, but the Jaguars will need to have the disgruntled corner reeled in for the game tonight. There is no doubt Jalen Ramsey does not want to become a distraction, however, he simply is. If he can go out and play at a high level — as he has done for the past 50  games — the Jaguars should be in good shape tonight.
  • Jaguars offensive line vs. Titans pass rushers
    The Titans pass rush is nothing to scoff at. Newly acquired outside linebacker Cameron Wake already has 2.5 sacks on the season, and will be looking for more against a rusty left tackle in Robinson. The Jaguars offensive line is still in flux and dealing with Wake and Titans defensive tackle Jurell Casey will be a tough task. 

Players to watch

Gardner Minshew — The rookie quarterback is looking to build off of his impressive late-game heroics last week against the Houston Texans, and an impressive week one performance. The Jaguars will need to keep the rookie grounded, but allow him to play his game all the same.

Jalen Ramsey Just keep an eye out here. Does Ramsey continue business-as-usual or does his antics during last week’s game — which ultimately led to his trade demand — continue? Our guess is Ramsey plays as if nothing is going on away from the field as he typically has.

This could be Ramsey’s last game — or more likely last home game — in a Jaguars uniform. Fans will have some mixed emotions, however, there is no argument about how much Ramsey has meant to this franchise over the past three seasons.

It is still baffling the Jaguars organization allowed it to get to this point, but here we are.

Leonard Fournette Fournette has to play better than he did against the Houston Texans. Although he impressed with a couple of receptions, his play on inside runs left a lot to be desired. The Titans have the worst missed tackle percentage through two weeks this season (26%), and Fournette along with the Jaguars must take advantage.

It is worth noting that offensive coordinator John DeFilippo told members of the media on Tuesday he does not mind the number of repetitions Fournette has received. That trend should continue today. Last week, Fournette played on 65/67 offensive snaps.

Cam Robinson — The Jaguars offensive tackle will make his regular-season debut tonight playing for the first time in over a year. Robinson told Locked On Jaguars after practice on Wednesday while there will be some rust, he is excited and anxious to finally get out on the field.

Official game prediction: Jaguars 24, Titans 21 — Jaguars somehow overcome all the distractions and rally around their rookie quarterback.

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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Jacksonville Jaguars

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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