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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Jets Preview: keys to victory, matchups

Demetrius Harvey

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Oct 20, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (91) celebrates his pick six with teammates in the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars were able to win their first — out of three –, must-win games last week against the Cincinnati Bengals. Their mentality has not changed this week as they come back home to face the New York Jets.

In what has been a very up-and-down season thus far for the Jacksonville Jaguars, the team has an opportunity to right the ship as they crawl themselves back to .500 for the second time this season.

Finding their equilibrium will be the toughest challenge against a dysfunctional, but fired-up New York Jets (1-5) team that was just embarrassed on Monday Night Football.

Game Time info

  • When: Sunday, October 27th, 1:00 PM  ET
  • Where: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
  • Watch: CBS47  (Click)
  • Listen: Jacksonville 1010XL AM, 92.5FM

Five Keys to Success

Stay Healthy

Well, the Jaguars did not heed our advice last week and subsequently lost two starting linebackers, and two backup linebackers in the same game. Quincy Williams, Najee Goode, D.J. Alexander, and Leon Jacobs were all injured during their week seven matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Alexander was placed on injured reserve earlier this week, and the team was forced to sign three new linebackers including former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith. The team also re-signed linebacker Donald Payne and promoted undrafted free agent rookie linebacker Joe Giles-Harris.

Walking wounded, the Jaguars suffered a huge loss this week in defensive tackle Marcell Dareus who was placed on injured reserve on Friday. The team subsequently signed defensive tackle Akeem Spence to take his place.

Staying healthy this week as they get ready for their annual overseas visit to London, will be pivotal.

Produce in the red-zone

The Jaguars struggled to produce in the red-zone last week. After going one for six – including one for three in goal-to-goal scenarios -, the Jaguars have to produce better in this area of their offense. Jaguars’ offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said during his Thursday press conference this week he had never been apart of a game like last week against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“It was a weird game,” DeFilippo said. “Obviously we have to be better in the red zone then we were. It’s a weird game to have 300 yards at halftime and six points or whatever it was. I have never been a part of a game like that before.”

The Jaguars put a heavy emphasis on the team’s red-zone offense this week, and against the Jets, there is no better opportunity. The Jets have surrendered 12 out of 18 possible red-zone touchdowns thus far this season. Something’s bound to give on Sunday, and the Jaguars must take advantage.

Keep the pressure on Darnold

Jets’ quarterback Sam Darnold was “seeing ghosts” last week against the New England Patriots. The Jaguars have to make him live out that nightmare for one more week if they are to win Sunday. Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue was a force to be reckoned with last week against the Bengals even though he didn’t record a sack. With Ngakoue and rookie defensive end Josh Allen manning the edges, Darnold may not have anywhere to turn.

With Dareus out for the season due to a serious core-muscle injury suffered against the Bengals last week, the team must turn to second-year defensive lineman Taven Bryan and third-year defensive lineman Dawaune Smoot.

Smoot spoke about the opportunity he has in front of him this season on Friday. While Bryan will get the second start of his career, both players will have ample opprotunity to showcase their talents on Sunday.

Although Calais Campbell is likely to play more inside this week, the team will rely on Bryan and Smoot much more than they have in the past. Both players have shown plenty of growth this season, and there is no reason to expect the trend to end against a porous Jets’ offensive line.

Win the turnover battle

The Jaguars put their turnover woes to rest last week after securing four against the Bengals. Thus far this season, Jacksonville has won every game they’ve had at least one turnover in. This week against the Jets (-4 in turnover differential), they should have an ample opportunity to secure another.

Ronnie Harrison, the team’s leader in interceptions and turnovers, will have a fantastic opportunity as Darold has thrown four out of five of his interceptions in the middle of the field, according to Pro Football Focus.

Play mistake-free

This coincides with the turnover battle for the Jaguars, however, playing mistake-free also means penalty-free. Now, every team in the NFL will have at least one penalty accepted against them each week, however, the Jaguars have been one of the worst teams in terms of discipline.

Over the first seven games of the season, the Jaguars have accumulated 57 penalties for 504 yards — tied for sixth-most in the NFL. The Jaguars do not to be perfect against a 1-5 Jets team, however, at 3-4, the Jaguars have not proven themselves as being a team that can overcome very much.

Key Matchups

A.J. Bouye vs. Robby Anderson

The Jaguars have allowed Bouye to follow opposing teams’ best receiver over the past two weeks without Jalen Ramsey on the team. This trend is likely to continue with Jets’ receiver Robbie Anderson.

Anderson has had a quiet year thus far without his starting signal-caller in the lineup for multiple weeks. However, during a week six matchup against the Dallas Cowboys, Anderson and Darnold connected five times for 125 yards and a touchdown.

The Jaguars have allowed the third-most 20-plus- (28) and 40-plus-yard receptions (7) thus far this season, and against a deep-threat like Anderson, that’s got to change.

A.J. Cann vs Leonard Williams

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone told members of the media on Friday that the team will continue to platoon A.J. Cann and Will Richardson at the right guard position against the New York Jets. Thus far this season, the plan has worked and has even elevated the play of the Jaguars’ fifth-year veteran.

“More importantly, I think with Will playing, it has pushed A.J. [Cann] to a point where he is playing better,” Marrone said. “We have had talks with them. It’s like why do you have to have someone in there competing with you to play better? It is human nature, and I think he is trying to figure it out. Right now, we are comfortable with the way it is because of the production.”

Cann will need to play better against the Jets’ most consistent defensive lineman. Jets’ defensive lineman Leonard Williams has been vocal this season when asked about the way the Jaguars won in week four of 2018.

“I think it’s really disrespectful … but at the same time, I think it’s up to us to gain that respect from other teams and if teams are disrespecting us, it must say something about us,” Williams said to NJ.com. “That’s how I took it. I took it really personal and I didn’t like it at all.”

The team will need to corral the former first-round pick if they want to keep rookie quarterback Garnder Minshew healthy.

Jaguars’ linebackers vs. Le’Veon Bell

The Jaguars will be without the majority of their linebackers on Sunday. Tomorrow, only two players at the position will have played a down this season. Jaguars’ middle linebacker Myles Jack has been a consistent starter, and weak-side linebacker Calitro has played just one defensive snap thus far this season. Three other newbies — Smith, Payne, and Giles-Harris have not played a single down for the Jaguars — or any other team this season.

Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone stated the team will likely use Calitro or Smith as their starting weak-side linebacker with a possibility of splitting the reps between the two players.

The team has done well against Jets’ running back Le’Veon Bell in terms of rushing, in the past — 31 rushes for 114 yards in their previous two matchups (2017) –, however, the team also allowed 19 receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown over that same span.

The Jaguars will have to rely on a host of new voices in the defensive huddle and try to contain the former Pro Bowl running back.


Official game prediction: Last week, the Jaguars nearly lost to a 0-6 Bengals team with very little – read: nothing – to play for.

Although the Jaguars won convincingly in the end, last week (27-17), the team needed a few Andy Dalton mistakes to make it a reality. I believe the Jaguars will win this one 21-14, but there is plenty of reason to be concerned after their showing last week.

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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