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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Panthers: Five observations from Sunday’s 27-34 loss

Demetrius Harvey



Oct 6, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) throws a pass against Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Shaq Thompson (54) in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

There was plenty to learn from the Jaguars’ 34-27 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. While there were many negatives, the positives from the game are worth noting.

While the Jaguars were able to overcome a 21-7 second-quarter deficit, their efforts proved to be futile against the leagues’ best running back, Christian McCaffrey.

Let’s take a look at what we learned from the Jaguars’ third loss of the season:

1. The Jaguars have an issue at guard, and it isn’t the one they are platooning

The Jaguars came into the game willing to split repetitions between A.J. Cann and Will Richardson at right guard. Both Richardson and Cann have played well, and while many presume one or the other should be starting, the real issue is at left guard.

Fifth-year player Andrew Norwell was a prized-possession free agent signing for the Jaguars last offseason. Since his signing, the Jaguars offensive line has not improved in pass protection nor in the run game. It is time for the Jaguars to consider replacing or at least adding competition at left guard.

During Sunday’s game, Norwell was one of the primary suspects for why the Panthers were able to scoop-and-score a Gardner Minshew fumble during the third quarter. While Minshew has his own issues in ball protection, one quote from Panthers’ defensive end Mario Addison stands out:

“I knew (Andrew) Norwell liked to be aggressive,” Addison told reporters after the game on Sunday. “But this time he was passive, so I stabbed him and grabbed his hands and ran back to the quarterback as hard as I could before he could recover. Then, when I pushed him real hard into the quarterback, the quarterback lost the ball, Burns picked it up and took it in for the touchdown.”

The Jaguars have seed anything but an “aggressive” Norwell thus far this season. His play — at the moment — is detrimental to the offense’s production. At the very least potential competition needs to be added at the position. Whether it be Cann or Richardson sliding over or using guard/center Tyler Shatley or guard Brandon Thomas in a platoon role as well.

2. Penalties are plaguing the team

Penalties, penalties, and more penalties! The Jaguars’ struggles to play disciplined have continued to haunt them. A few penalties are not very difficult to overcome, however, nine penalties for 85 yards is asking for way too much.

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has done a fantastic job at keeping the players focused amid a quarterback change and a tread demand, however, no matter what Marrone does — internally or not — does not seem to be working on this group.

3. Myles Jack and Quincy Williams struggled mightily

The Jaguars surrendered a staggering 285 yards to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. This included 176 by the NFL’s best offensive player that is not a quarterback in Christian McCaffrey. While there is plenty of blame to pass along, the majority of it needs to go to linebacker Myles Jack and his rookie counter-part Quincy Williams.

Williams gets a pass as he is only a rookie third-round pick out of Murray State — expectations should be low for him. Jack, however, should not get a pass, and the fourth-year linebacker seems to agree.

“I can’t put this on anyone but myself,” Jack told reporters after the loss on Sunday. “I owe it to this team to be better. We have to tighten up.”

Jack was one of several players to give up plays to McCaffrey. None were as egregious as Jack’s poor coverage on the running back near the endzone which set the Jaguars back 14-7 late in the first quarter. There has to be a longer discussion on Jack at some point in the future, however, for now, he is simply not playing well — at all.

Williams was benched at some point early in the fourth quarter for veteran linebacker Najee Goode. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said during his post-game press conference, “We just wanted to get some better fits in there, better run fits. There are a lot of things that happen but we wanted to put Najee (Goode) in there because we thought we would get better run fits out of him and some other things that we wanted to get accomplished that we weren’t getting done. But we still believe in him and love him and all that.”

The Jaguars may still love Williams, however, the rookie will need to get better — and quickly — if he wants to have a better performance next week when Alvin Kamara comes to town.

4. Gardner Minshew doesn’t play like a rookie

Minshew Mania, Minshew-Magic, Mustached Man, no matter what nickname you have for the Jaguars’ rookie quarterback, only one description makes sense, baller. Minshew had one of the most impressive rookie quarterback stat-lines in franchise history competing against the league’s number one pass defense in the Carolina Panthers.

Minshew completed 26-42 passes for 374 yards and two touchdowns on the day. The rookie was one of the primary reasons the Jaguars were still in the game after falling behind 21-7, partially due to Minshew himself, and the Jaguars’ porous run defense.

While he still has room to grow (three fumbles on the day), Minshew made throws on Sunday very few rookie quarterbacks can. His ability to stay calm and poised after adversity is noticed in the team’s locker room, and nationwide.

Minshew is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for 200-plus yards and to post a 95.0 or better pass rating in each of his first five career games. Minshew also set a Jaguars’ rookie record in passing yardage (374). The rookie can make all the throws, and one of the most veteran-like throws may go unnoticed.

Minshew does a fantastic job here at getting out of the pocket. He continues to keep his eyes downfield in an attempt to pass late in the fourth quarter. Instead of tucking it, he shovel passes to Jaguars’ running back Leonard Fournette for an easy gain.

This is one of the savviest — but simple — play the rookie quarterback has made in his five career starts. There is a future here with Minshew, and it is bright.

5. DJ Chark Jr. is a legitimate top-10 wide receiver

This seems to be a broken record, but with each passing game, it is becoming exceedingly more clear that DJ Chark Jr. is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Chark finished the day with eight receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns. Easily the receivers’ career-best day. On the year, Chark has 27 receptions for 485 yards and five touchdowns.

To put his touchdowns into perspective, the Jaguars’ leading receiver last year — Dede Westbrook — finished the year with five touchdowns in 16 games. Chark is currently the AFC’s leading receiver in yards (485) and touchdown receptions (five). His five touchdown receptions are the second-most in the entire NFL.

Early in the third quarter, Chark made a sensational grab near the one-yard line to set up the Jaguars’ third score of the game.

Many presumed the second-year receiver crossed over the pylon, but the referees determined the ball was out of bounds just short of the line to gain. Regardless, Chark’s adjustment mid-air to not only make the grab but in one motion also position himself with a chance to score is simply, incredible.

Hat-tip to Minshew for yet another immaculate toss as he looked off the safety and came back to the streaking Chark. The connection both Minshew and Chark have thus-far this season is one of the bright spots of the year. If Chark maintains his growth, the Jaguars are in for a treat for years to come.

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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