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Jacksonville Jaguars

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

Demetrius Harvey

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Sep 30, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars corner back Jalen Ramsey (20) enters the stadium prior to the game between the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Opening day is the most optimistic day any NFL fan base will have for the remainder of the season. Everyone is on an even playing field. Every team has an opportunity to get to the Super Bowl and will get to the Super Bowl.

For the Jaguars, their week one matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs evokes feelings of optimism and nervousness. It will be the first time this year which fans will see the team showcase their talents on defense, along with a new franchise quarterback in a game that matters.

While Jaguars fans will get their first opportunity to see the first-team offense, starting left tackle Cam Robinson will not be in the starting lineup this week. Robinson injured his knee in practice on Thursday, and will not be able to suit up. Second-year offensive lineman Will Richardson will start at left tackle. The Jaguars must be able to protect quarterback Nick Foles and run the ball if they want to win on Sunday.

Game Time info

  • When: Sunday, September, 8th 1:00 PM  ET
  • Where: TIAA Bank Field Jacksonville, FL
  • Watch: CBS47 (click)
  • Listen: Jacksonville 1010XL AM, 92.5FM

Five Keys to Success

  1. Stay healthy
    Already without starting Robinson for Sunday’s matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Jaguars can ill-afford to lose anyone else. With two pivotal matchups coming up against the Houston Texans and the Tennesse Titans, the Jaguars need to get out of the Chiefs game relatively unscathed, win, lose, or draw.
  2. Prevent big plays
    The Chiefs undoubtedly have the talent around them on offense to put up massive numbers on offense. The key for the Jaguars on Sunday to limit the big plays. Against the Chiefs last season, the Jaguars allowed eight plays of  15 or more yards on the day.
  3. Limit turnovers
    Last season against the Chiefs the Jaguars committed five turnovers including four interceptions and a fumble by then-Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. If the Jaguars can limit their turnovers to one or less on the game, they have a great shot at winning. The Jaguars defense is still strong enough to propel their team to victory.
  4. Get after the quarterback
    This is a no-brainer. Getting after Patrick Mahomes is no easy task, but if any front-four is prepared, it is the Jaguars. The Jaguars host some of the most talented players on the defensive line in the entire NFL. Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Marcell Dareus/Taven Bryan, and Josh Allen must get after the quarterback.
  5. Start fast on offense
    Whether it be running the football with Leonard Fournette, or passing with Foles, the Jaguars must be able to get off to a fast start on offense. Lagging behind an explosive offense such as the Chiefs is difficult to navigate for the future. If the Jaguars are able to establish themselves on offense early, the defense can do the rest.

Key Matchups 

  • Jalen Ramsey vs. Tyreek Hill
    This is probably the key matchup of the game for the Jaguars this week. Unlike the last time these two teams met, Ramsey didn’t have much to say about his matchup with the pro bowl wide receiver. Instead, Ramsey will let his play do the talking. Last year against Hill Ramsey allowed only one big play against Hill — a 36-yard reception in the third quarter. Other than that, Hill was limited to three receptions for 25 yards.
  • Jaguars defense vs. Travis Kelce
    Jacksonville defensive coordinator Todd Wash suggested more than one player will handle Kelce throughout the game. Defending Kelce will absolutely be a team effort. In their last matchup, Kelce accounted for five receptions for 100 yards on the day. Stopping him will be no easy task, and it will be interesting to see how the Jaguars intend to do it. One clue could come in for the form of the Jaguars new dynamic duo at safetyJarrod Wilson and Ronnie Harrison.
  • Jaguars receivers vs. Chiefs cornerbacks
    Although the Chiefs secondary as a whole has been upgraded with the additions of safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill, the cornerback position leaves a lot to be desired. Jaguars receivers D.J. Chark, and Chris Conley are undoubtedly the fastest receivers on the team. Both players on the boundaries will present major problems for the Chiefs cornerbacks if Foles crack in the secondary.
  • Jaguars offensive line vs. Frank Clark and Chris Jones
    Sort of burying the leade here, but the Jaguars offensive line is going to be challenged on Sunday. As the new addition to the Chiefs defensive line, Frank Clark is a menace in the offensive backfield. As such, Richardson will unquestionably have his hands full. As for Chiefs’ defensive tackle Chris Jones, the Jaguars will need interior linemen Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, and A.J. Cann to step up to the plate in order to keep Foles’ jersey clean on Sunday.

Players to watch

Will Richardson — Richardson is unquestionably the player most fans will want to keep an eye on. Starting at left tackle this will be his first in-game action in the NFL. After practice on Friday Richardson told Locked On Jaguars while he feels he could have used more repetitions at tackle during camp, he feels pretty good about going into Sunday’s matchup against the Chiefs. “Football is football,” Richardson said.

The most difficult aspect of switching positions along the offensive line is not from tackle to guard necessarily. Richardson believes switching from the right side, to the left side is much more difficult similarly to how someone who is right-handed attempts to write with their left hand. “Once I go from the right side to left side I gotta get my feet under me, I gotta get coordinated.” Richardson will need to be very coordinated going against Clark.

Nick Foles — If it weren’t for the injury to Robinson, Foles would have been the number one player to watch. Entering his first year as a true franchise quarterback for the Jaguars, he will have a lot to prove. Going against his former team the Chiefs, and former head coach Andy Reid Foles will need to get off to a fast start on offense. With the offensive line in a state of confusion already, Foles will have to rely on his quick release, and likely more dump-off passes to Fournette than he originally intended.

Quincy Williams — Drafted in the third round this year, Williams will enter his first-ever NFL game against one of the most powerful offenses in professional football. Williams seems confident going into his first in-game action for an NFL team but understands it is a unique situation. “Its crazy man, from going to a small school in college, o getting drafted then all of a sudden now your number [is] getting called to start in your first NFL game period — because I didn’t play in that preseason,” Williams told Locked on Jaguars.

While Williams has not had any on-field playing time, he still has spent plenty of time in the film room. Learning from players such as Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, and Marcell Dareus, he says those three really helped him out in terms of understanding the mental aspect of the NFL. As for nerves? The rookie linebacker says he has no nervousness entering week one, “Most people say it’s a mind thing, there’s a lot of clutter going on, you’re nervous. I’m not really nervous, I know the game plan and at the end of the day it’s still football.” The Jaguars are expecting a lot out of Williams this week, and for the moment, he seems to be doing just fine in adjusting.

“Come Sunday, when its the first play of the game — it’s just back to football.”

Leonard Fournette — Although seldom talked about as of late, Fournette is one of the most important players for the Jaguars this upcoming season. Not only does he need to stay healthy, but he also needs to be able to establish the run for the Jaguars offense early on. While the Jaguars spent big money on a quarterback this offseason, their offense is still going to rely heavily on the former fourth-overall pick. If Fournette plays well on Sunday, so will the Jaguars offense.

Josh Allen — The rookie defensive end/outside linebacker looks to be a star in the making. Even though he has not played a snap during the regular season, it is easy to see the potential he has. During the third preseason game against the Dolphins, Allen was all over the field whether it be playing in coverage as an outside linebacker, or at defensive end, Allen was able to wreak havoc on for the Jaguars. If he gets off to a hot start against the Chiefs’ offensive line the Jaguar shave a very good chance of winning this game.

Official game prediction: Jaguars 14, Chiefs 23

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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