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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Bengals Preview: keys to victory, matchups

Demetrius Harvey



Oct 13, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) walks on the field after a game against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

After overcoming some early-season dramatics, the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4) are in a prime position to rebound against the winless Cincinnatti Bengals (0-6) on Sunday.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have now battled through multiple distractions over the course of the first six games of the season. From losing their starting quarterback via injury to losing their best defensive player via trade, the team has continued to remain positive when no one would have blamed them for packing it in.

Jaguars’ rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew had his one and only ‘mulligan’ of the season last weekend against the New Orleans Saints. Completing only 14 out of 29 of his passes for 163 yards and an interception, it was easily the Minshew’s worst game of his career. While the rookie was disappointed in his performance, he remained confident and cool during his Wednesday press conference at TIAA Bank Field.

“There are things we can all do better and we’re going to do better,” Minshew said on Wednesday when asked about John DeFilippo’s message to him. “So, we’re not going to hang our heads about it and we’re not going to be sad, or pout or whatever. We’re going to take that, learn from it, get better from it and move forward into this week.”

Minshew will need to move forward this week against the 31st ranked Bengals defense on Sunday.

Game Time info

  • When: Sunday, October 20th, 1:00 PM  ET
  • Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Watch: CBS47  (Click)
  • Listen: Jacksonville 1010XL AM, 92.5FM

Five Keys to Success

Stay Healthy

The Jaguars — for the most part — have taken our advice and have stayed healthy throughout the season. The trend needs to continue on Sunday. Going against an 0-6 opponent, this has the potential to be a bizarre game. If the Jaguars want to survive beyond this week, they will need to come out of the game relatively unscathed.

Keep running Leonard Fournette

Fournette has been the Jaguars’ not-so-secret weapon this season. Rushing for 584 yards on 115 carries (5.1 yards-per-carry), thus far this season, the Jaguars’ bell-cow has risen to the occasion since starting his 2019 campaign. Staying healthy, and looking slimmer than ever before, Fournette should be in for a big day against the 32nd ranked rushing-defense in the NFL

The Bengals have allowed over 250 yards rushing the past two weeks without a couple of key defensive players, and this week is no different. The Bengals will be without four defensive starters on Sunday including defensive end Carlos Dunlap and backup defensive end Carl Lawson.

Get off to a fast start with Minshew

The Jaguars should absolutely lean on Fournette on Sunday, however, they’ll still need some help from their rookie quarterback. The Bengals will be without cornerbacks William Jackson, III and Dre Kirkpatrick. Both players are typically starters in the Bengals’ secondary.

If Minshew were to have a bounce-back game, Sunday will be it. Although Minshew will be without one of his receivers on Sunday in Marqise Lee, the Jaguars will get back third-round rookie tight end Josh Oliver for the first time this season. Oliver could be a very reliable target for the rookie quarterback over the middle of the field against the Bengals.

With Nick Foles set to begin practicing again next week, the Jaguars will be keeping an even closer eye on their young quarterback. If Minshew is going to become the Jaguars’ long-term option at quarterback, he will have to get back his former “Minshew-Mania” self.

His partner-in-crime, DJ Chark, Jr. shouldn’t be receiving as much attention on Sunday as the Bengals do not have a true shutdown corner such as Saints’ cornerback Marshon Lattimore. There should be plenty of opportunities for all receiving targets.

Take advantage of the Bengals’ injuries along the offensive line

Thus far this season, the Jaguars’ defensive line has not been able to take advantage of poor offensive line play. A week after the Jaguars totaled nine sacks against the Tennessee Titans, the team would lay a goose egg against the Denver Broncos in the sack category.

Remaining consistent has been the Jaguars’ weak spot on defense and with the Bengals walking-wounded, they have to take advantage. Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, and Josh Allen have combined for nine sacks this season, with the rookie leading the pack.

Prove yourself without Jalen Ramsey

The Jaguars may never have a player with Ramsey’s skills ever again on defense. That does not mean the team is barebones without him, however. Cornerback A.J. Bouye has proven to have the capability of being a true number one corner on the Jaguars’ defense.

According to Pro Football Focus, Bouye has given up 12 receptions for 210 yards on the season, allowing 50% of passes to be completed on him. For reference, Ramsey allowed 54.6% of passes completed on him just last season.

The Jaguars have the potential within their secondary and will need to continue to improve as the season goes on.

During a conference call on Thursday, Bengals’ head coach Zac Taylor praised the Jaguars’ cornerbacks, even without Ramsey in the fold. “Those guys compete, they’re gonna get up in the receivers face, they’re gonna compete, they’re gonna make plays on the ball they don’t give a lot of air there, they don’t give up easy completions,” Taylor said. “If Ramsey was there obviously he’s an elite player — one of the best in the league, but these guys are good, it’s one of the better groups we’ve seen all year. ”

Key Matchups

Tre Herndon vs. Auden Tate

Without Ramsey, the Jaguars have turned to second-year cornerback Tre Herndon to fill the void in the secondary. Herndon has proven himself as a capable starter. Over the past two weeks, Herndon has allowed only six completions for 72 yards and zero touchdowns.

Jaguars’ defensive coordinator has been impressed with Herndon’s growth citing his studious nature, and ability to take to coaching effortlessly. “You really see him understanding the concepts and stuff,” Wash said on Thursday. “He does a tremendous job at the line of scrimmage. What we’re teaching, he goes out there each and every day and tries to execute exactly what we’re teaching. He doesn’t vary from what we’re teaching, and you see him getting better because of it.”

Bengals receiver Auden Tate, 6’5″, 228 lbs., has come on as of late notching five receptions for 91 yards last week against the Baltimore Ravens. Herndon will have his hands full on Sunday and will have to prove he can be “the guy” moving forward.

Will Richardson vs. Geno Atkins

One of the most consistent players for the Bengals over the past decade has been defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Over the course of the season, Atkins has been credited with 10 stops and one sack according to Pro Football Focus. Although he is not as productive as he was in the past, he will present a challenge to second-year right guard Will Richardson.

Richardson has been platooning with fifth-year veteran A.J. Cann this season at right guard. Allowing only four pressures in the past four games, Richardson will have a unique challenge on Sunday to prove once again, he should remain the starting guard moving forward.

Myles Jack vs. Joe Mixon

Bengals’ running back Joe Mixon has gone somewhat unnoticed this season due to Cincinnati’s inability to get positive push upfront. The threat, however, still remains. Mixon is a very slippery runner and has the ability to make receptions out of the backfield.

With the Bengals hurting along their offensive line this week look for them to get Mixon going early and often. Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack had a bounce-back game against the New Orleans Saints last week staying in his gap and making key tackles down the stretch.

If the Jaguars want to win on Sunday, Jack will have to play at the level the team is paying him to play at.

Official game prediction: The Jaguars win this one 24-10. The highest point spread Locked On Jaguars have given to the team, there are simply too many injuries and poor play with the Bengals this season. The team will ‘get right’ at some point this season, however, it won’t be against the Jaguars on Sunday.

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



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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