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Jaguars vs. Panthers preview: keys to victory, matchups, and mailbag

Demetrius Harvey

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Sep 29, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) takes a hand off from Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the most important game of the season, the Jaguars will have their hands full as they go to Charlotte to face the Carolina Panthers.

There are no questions regarding the status of cornerback Jalen Ramsey as the Jaguars head to Charlotte to face the Carolina Panthers. The star cornerback was ruled out by head coach Doug Marrone on Friday. Ramsey will go see a specialist sometime this week as he continues to recover from a back injury suffered against the Tennessee Titans earlier this season.

As for the game, the Jaguars will face a Panthers team coming off a two-game win streak of their own with second-year backup quarterback Kyle Allen at the helm. It will truly be a battle of the backups this week and Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew will need to get everything out of his offense on Sunday.

Yesterday, Jaguars nickel back D.J. Hayden was added to the game status report with a foot injury. His status heading into Sunday is questionable. If he cannot play, the Jaguars will be down to their second, fourth, and fifth “best” defensive backs starting. The Jaguars may want to move second-year cornerback Tre Herndon to Hayden’s nickel position and using cornerback Breon Borders outside.

Game Time info

  • When: Sunday, October 6th, 1:00 PM  ET
  • Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Watch: CBS47  (Click)
  • Listen: Jacksonville 1010XL AM, 92.5FM

Five Keys to Success

Stay healthy
While Minshew has looked fine during portions of the practice open to the media this week, he is still sporting a brace on his left knee. Keeping him from further injury will be the most important task on Sunday against the Panthers’ vicious defensive line.

The Jaguars can also ill-afford to lose another defensive back on Sunday. Potentially down two starters heading into Sunday, if there are any more injuries the Jaguars could be looking at using one of their safeties as a primary backup.

Otherwise, the Jaguars are still taking our advice on staying healthy for the most part, and getting out of the game without further injuries should be a primary goal.

Slow down Christian McCaffrey

Unlike Phillip Lindsay a week ago, slowing down McCaffrey is much easier said than done. The third-year running back is having yet another incredible year and could very well be the NFL’s best running back. Receiving or running the football, McCaffrey is a threat no matter what down and distance the Panthers are in.

Unlike his Jaguars’ counter-part, McCaffrey is very versatile and can run anyone over just as well as he can make a defender miss. If the Jaguars slow him down, they will have a fantastic show at coming back to TIAA Bank Field 3-2.

Protect Gardner Minshew at all costs
Well, last week this was just a precaution, and the Jaguars offensive line did not listen. After surrendering five sacks to the Denver Broncos, Minshew-Magic suffered an injury to his left knee. Luckily for the Jaguars, the AFC Rookie of the Month is good to go for their matchup against the Panthers.

Tied for first in the NFL in sacks with 18, the Carolina Panthers have a vicious defensive line. The Jaguars will need to protect an already wounded rookie quarterback in order to have any success in Sunday’s game.

Continue to play distraction-free

The Jaguars have done a terrific job this season at playing without being distracted by outside noise. Coming into Sunday, the team will be without Ramsey for the first time since he was drafted in 2016. While he was unable to suit up last Sunday against the Broncos, at least he was in attendance. This time, Ramsey did not travel with the team as he searches for a second opinion on his injured back.

The Jaguars have a very close-knit locker room, so this should be a very simple task.

Keep the run game going

The Jaguars finally figured out their run-game struggles last week against the Denver Broncos. Running back Leonard Fournette rushed for a staggering 225 yards, including 190 in the second half — the most in one half in franchise history. The team will need to keep it up this week against one the Panthers who have given up 130 rushing yards per game this season.

If the Jaguars can establish the run, it will help the Jaguars pass protection as defenders will be more hesitant to get upfield due to the threat of Fournette barreling down on them.

Key Matchups 

  • Jaguars linebackers vs. Christian McCaffrey
    As noted in the ‘keys to victory’, the Jaguars need to stop McCaffrey at all costs. Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack was recently named the Locked On Jaguars key player of the week, and he will need to have the best game of his career if he is matchup up early and often with the Panthers’ bread and butter running back. Rookie linebacker Quincy Williams struggled last week against angle routes by the Broncos’ running backs, and if he is matched up with McCaffrey this week, he knows he has to get better. Keep an eye out for how the Jaguars use their linebackers in the middle of the field on Sunday.
  • Leonard Fournette vs. Luke Kuechly
    Fournette will be going up against arguably the most talented middle linebacker in the country on Sunday. After his performance against the Denver Broncos, the former LSU superstar will have to dig deep to grind out tough yards against the potent Carolina Panthers front seven.
  • Jaguars defensive line vs. Panthers offensive line
    Let’s try this again. The Jaguars defensive line put up a giant goose egg in the sack column last week against a very weak Broncos offensive line. This week, the Jaguars will face yet another beat-up offensive line who will be without their now-starting left tackle Greg Little along with their starting pro-bowl guard Trai Turner. If the Jaguars want to once again be known as “sacksonville”, they’ll need to produce more than zero sacks in North Carolina.

Locked On Jaguars Mailbag!

You asked, and we have the answers. Demetrius Harvey answers the burning questions Jaguars fans may have in this week’s edition of the Locked On Jaguars mailbag.

From: @asthebroflies: What was the true extent of Josh Oliver’s hamstring injury, and does he look like he has the same burst and speed he had before the injury?

Answer: Good question. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone only mentioned during training camp that Oliver had suffered a “serious” hamstring injury. Beyond that, the team has no obligation to tell the media, or the general public, the severity of the injury.

In the time we have been allowed to watch during a practice open to the media, Oliver has moved around fine. The majority of what we see are positional drills, not necessarily any actual team activities. There is no way to determine how fast Oliver actually looks, but the fact that he was out there on a limited basis this week, should be promising.

From: @1MalcWilliams: Is Jalen is a no go Sunday? How concerned should we be with Tre Herndon? Is he bad or did he just have a bad game against Denver?

Answer: This question was submitted on Friday before Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone ruled Jalen Ramsey out for Sunday’s matchup against the Carolina Panthers due to a back injury. The Jaguars should be very concerned with Tre Herndon, especially considering Hayden is nursing a foot injury. In general, however, Herndon has looked good more often than he has looked bad. While his play against Denver left a lot to be desired, it is not time to panic. Yet.

From: @CaliforniaJaguar: Name a player you would trade Jalen Ramsey for straight-up that would be a fair trade for both sides.

Answer: This is the toughest question so far. There really is no precedence for a trade of this caliber — at least not player-for-player. The Jaguars hope to get at least two first-round picks for the superstar cornerback, and if that is their baseline, I am unsure what player they’d want in return. The only players worthy of two first-round picks tend to be defensive ends or quarterbacks.

I have a feeling regardless of which player I say either Jaguars fans or the opposing team’s fans will have a cow. A shot in the dark guess at what it would take, considering their price point, would be Odell Becham Jr. The Browns would never do it, however, that is the caliber of player the Jaguars would be looking for.

From: @Joacogorina: We need more from the defense than the offense for this match?

Answer: The Jaguars need to play well on both sides of the ball on Sunday, however an all-pro performance from the defense should get the job done. I do not like the idea of the Jaguars attempting to go toe-to-toe with the Panthers offense if they have to. The Panthers are deploying one of the best defenses in the NFL, and the Jaguars need to match it.

From: @Casscd88: Which CB do you like in rounds 2/3 for the Jags to replace Jalen next year.

Answer: It is October and draft questions are already rolling in due to the ongoing dispute between the team and Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. If Ramsey is going to leave the Jaguars at some point, they would be smart to select a cornerback in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft. I truly do not know many of the cornerbacks available in this year’s draft, but I do like Florida Gators cornerback Chris Henderson.


Official game prediction: Jaguars 17, Panthers 24 — The Jaguars have been fortunate the past couple of weeks in not allowing the game to get out of hand late, however having to face the best running back in the league will be no easy task.

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’ Doug Marrone on Najee Goode: “I thought he made some good plays in space”

Demetrius Harvey

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Oct 13, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Najee Goode (52) reacts during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

After a struggling time at weakside linebacker against the Panthers, the Jaguars replaced rookie Quincy Williams with eight-year veteran Najee Goode against the New Orleans Saints

The Jaguars had to make a decision this week: go with the young rookie linebacker from Murray State or with a grizzled veteran free agent brought in over the summer. The decision was quite easy after a rocky game against the Carolina Panthers for Quincy Williams, and the Jaguars settled on starting eighth-year linebacker Najee Goode.

Goode went on to play for the Jaguars yesterday against the New Orleans Saints and played well. Much better than Williams had a week prior, which should be expected considering Williams is quite raw coming out of an FCS school in Murray State.

Against the Saints, Goode made key tackles in space, playing within his gaps to make plays in the run game, as well as rushing the passer. On the day, Goode was credited with six tackles (three solos), one pass defended, and a sack. Although he is not extraordinary, Goode has done enough good things on the field to pose the question: should he remain the starter at weakside linebacker?

“I thought they did some good things. I think we’ll look at the film. I’m sure there’s some things they want back, but I thought, overall, the gap control early on… one of the things we’re working on is guys staying where they were,” Marrone said on Sunday when asked about the linebacker play. “From a standpoint of where we were last week to where we were this week, that was a great improvement.”

Goode did play well, as did the rest of the linebacker group including often-criticized linebacker Myles Jack. The defense held the Saints’ offense to 104 yards on 26 carries including only 31 rushing yards by Alvin Kamara. When asked about playing with Goode on Sunday, Jack offered a ton of praise.

“I thought Najee [Goode] did really good,” Jack said. “Being a veteran, he knows ball so me and him on the field, we can talk things out. He alerts me on concepts, and I was alerting him on stuff. It was kind of like having a second middle linebacker on the field.”

The Jaguars have lacked the sort of veteran presence on the second-level due to playing Williams so early. Goode replaced Williams during the offseason and seems to be trending in the right direction to replace him for much of the rest of the season. At least until Williams is ready.

Having someone who can call out alerts on concepts is highly important and allows players like Jack and Leon Jacobs to move more freely without having to worry about making up for Williams’ mistakes.

Marrone spoke about the issue on Monday during a conference call after reviewing the film from Sunday.

“I thought he played well,” Marrone said when asked about Goode’s play from Sunday. “I think you’re always going to want some plays back, especially early on in the game. You look at the first half and we really struggled early on [on offense] and I think the first half we gave up 11 yards rushing. So, that second level, and being at the right place and making sure that we handle our gaps is important. I thought he made some good plays in space; he made some nice open-field tackles. I thought he did a very good job.”

While Goode did play well on Sunday, Marrone seemed to keep the door open for Williams to remain in the starting lineup. “So again, we’re still working with Quincy [Williams]. We’re still going to keep bringing him along and we’ll just take it week-by-week and a lot of it depends on what’s in the game plan and what we’re trying to get accomplished of who plays.”

Working with Williams is fine, however, the Jaguars must decide whether he needs more time to learn before throwing him back to the wolves. For now, Goode should be the starter, until he’s not.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Saints: Five observations from Sunday’s 6-13 loss

Demetrius Harvey

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Oct 13, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (right) and quarterback Nick Foles (left) look on during the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars had their most brutal game offensively against the Saints yesterday and were simply outmatched at the end of the day in their 6-13 loss on Sunday.

The Jaguars will have to regroup and figure out a way to play consistently both offensively and defensively down the stretch if they want an opportunity to play in the playoffs this January. For now, they are a team with pieces to get them there but have not played like a complete unit except for their week three win against the Tennessee Titans.

Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone took the blame for Sunday’s loss during his post-game press conference.

“It starts with me. I’ve got to do a better job. I told the team [that] I like their effort, playing hard, we’ve just got to perform better, really.”

1. Gardner Minshew hadn’t played like a rookie — until Sunday

Jaguars rookie quarterback Garnder Minshew has been the talk of the town over the first six weeks of the regular season for his play since taking over for an injured Nick Foles. Before yesterday, Minshew completed 110 out of 165 of his passes for 1,279 yards, nine touchdowns, and one interception.

Yesterday, however, was simply not his day. Minshew completed only 14 of his 29 attempts for 163 yards and an interception.

After the game, Minshew placed the majority of the blame on himself, saying “Yeah it was a tough day; they are a good team. I missed some balls that I can’t miss. They played good coverage at times and got after us upfront at times. We’ll go look at the film and figure out what we need to fix.”

Much of the rookie’s issues stemmed from what the Saints did defensively. This included taking the Jaguars out of a position of strength by containing Minshew within the pocket and taking his most reliable receiver — DJ Chark Jr. — out of the game by bracketing him and placing their best cornerback, Marshon Lattimore on him.

Minshew will need to step his game up in the coming weeks, especially if the Saints laid out a blueprint on how to stop him. When Minshew did try to step up in the pocket, he was unable to get anywhere.

2. Jaguars defense played extraordinary on Sunday

The Jaguars defense was the talk of the town exiting their loss against the Carolina Panthers a week ago where they allowed 285 rushing yards — the second-most in franchise history. This week, the Jaguars were able to rebound on defense, allowing only 104 yards on the ground.

Saints’ running back Alvin Kamara gained only 31 yards on 11 attempts. Easily his worst day at the office this season on the ground. Multiple players including, Taven Bryan, Josh Allen, and D.J. Hayden were major pieces to the puzzle on Sunday.

While they did give up some yardage through the air — 240 yards on 24 completions –, the Jaguars did well in stopping the Saints. New Orleans converted only 5 out of 13 (38%) of their third-downs yesterday.

“We played good ball, but we didn’t capitalize off when we needed to,” Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye said yesterday after the game. “Our mentality is if offense puts up points, then we have to stop them. We gave them some X plays and runs that we couldn’t finish off. We played good red zone defense which made it a little hard for them to get in the end zone and score on us. This is a learning experience. We are going to come in tomorrow and watch film and work on the areas we were slow to cover.”

3. Jaguars need to find a number two receiver, and fast

Yesterday, it was clear the Jaguars had no answer for the Saints pass defense which blanketed DJ Chark Jr. for much of the day. Chark Jr. was only able to get free on a couple of designed routes towards the middle of the field.

Receiver Dede Westbrook was able to get free for a few catches (three for 53 yards on the day), however, for much of the afternoon, he was slowed considerably, forcing Minshew to check down to running back Leonard Fournette who led the team in receptions with six receptions for 43 yards.

Chris Conley — another featured receiver — was unable to get anything going after being targeted three times. Conley had zero receptions on the day and failed to create much separation.

After the game, Conley voiced his frustrations going against the Saints’ defense stating, “Yeah, that is frustrating. We knew how they were going to play the game today. We knew that DJ [Chark Jr.] was going to draw double-coverage, and we have to execute in other spots. They played a little different than what we expected. We expected them to double DJ, but we didn’t expect them to play two-man all-day basically. We have to win versus two-man [coverage].”

The Jaguars will have to learn how to maneuver around tough situations and especially cover two-man coverage moving forward. If they do not find a receiver who can win against single coverage all day, they are in for a long remainder of the season.

4. Nickel corner DJ Hayden is the Jaguars’ best defender

As a player who does not receive nearly as much praise as he deserves, Hayden is playing the most consistent football out of any player on the Jaguars’ defense. Hayden was able to make multiple plays on the ball in yesterday’s contest and executes open-field to perfection.

On one key play, Hayden stopped Kamara in the open field on a screen which almost assuredly would have been a big gain. Hayden is playing injured with a sore foot and has continuously performed well on the field. Jaguars’ defensive coordinator Todd Wash praised Hayden for his toughness just last week as he battled the foot injury, getting him in the game against Carolina.

“It was bothering him a lot last week,” Wash said. “And I think our training staff and our doctors have done a real good job of rehabbing him and getting him in position to be able to play this week.”

5. Leonard Fournette is playing his best brand of football

Fournette is playing fantastic football on the ground for the Jaguars and has consistently been one of their best players despite his poor showing against the Tennessee Titans. Finding his groove, Fournette ran hard and got tough yards with an offensive line that continues to have consistency issues.

For the year, Fournette has run 115 times for 584 yards and one touchdown. He has also added 26 receptions for 189 yards. If the Jaguars offense has any bright spot exiting week six, it is him.

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Minshew Magic fades as Jaguars offense falters in 13-6 loss to Saints

Demetrius Harvey

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Oct 13, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) scrambles with the ball against New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Shy Tuttle (99) during the first quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars struggle to get anything going in a “must-win” game at home in their 13-6 loss to New Orleans Saints. 

In what was the most disappointing performance of his short career, Jaguars’ rookie quarterback Garnder Minshew struggled mightily to get anything going in the passing game in what was likely due to how the Saints’ defense played the Jaguars receivers and the Jaguars’ signal-caller throughout the game.

Indecisiveness, happy-feet in the pocket, and inaccurate throws were all on display this week for Minshew. Minshew completed 14 out of 29 of his passes for 163 yards and an interception on the day. Zero touchdowns marked the first time all season the rookie quarterback was not able to get the ball in the endzone.

Where the passing game struggled, so did the Jaguars’ rushing attack. Jaguars’ running back Leonard Fournette only accounted for 20 carries for 72 yards (3.6 yards-per-carry) which ended his streak of 100-yard rushing performances at only two.

Receiver DJ Chark Jr. spoke about the defense he saw against the Saints today in the post-game open locker room stating, “When they covered us, they were in Cover 2 man [coverage] throughout the game. Personally, on my end, Marshon Lattimore did a very good job by covering me along with the safety which made it harder for me to run my routes on my end of the field. ”

The Jaguars will have to figure out a way to move the ball better than they did against the Saints today, and part of it comes from coaching. Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone said in his post-game press conference that the coaches have to do a better job schematically when the receivers are struggling to get any separation.

In what is a form of a role-reversal for the Jaguars, the Jaguars played extremely well defensively which has not been their calling card the past two weeks. The team has only played one complete game all season where the Jaguars’ offense and defense seemed to be in sync the entire game — against the Tennessee Titans.

GAME RECAP: 

After opting to defer to begin the game, the Jaguars’ defense was ready to contain the Saints’ offense throughout the entire game. The longest play allowed by the Jaguars’ defense was a 27-yard pass in the first quarter to Saints’ wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. For the most part, the Jaguars’ defense was able to completely shut down the Saints opening few series, and pretty much the entire game.

The Jaguars defense bagan the day by forcing the Saints to punt twice before having to settle for a field goal, which would be the team’s first points of the game. This wasn’t a game of many offensive plays as both teams struggled to move the ball with any urgency throughout the entire game.

The Jaguars’ first points of the game would come on a 22-yard Josh Lambo field goal near the end of the third quarter, tying the game 3-3 at halftime in what could only be described as a defensive struggle at that point in the contest.

Not being able to get anything going offensively, Minshew would add insult to injury by throwing an ill-adviced interception only three plays into the third quarter to Marcus Lattimore. After the game, Minshew said he and Chark, had a sort of miscommunication which led to an errant throw. Chark stopped on his route and expected the ball to be placed inside, and Minshew threw the ball outside. It was the rookie’s first interception since week one of the regular season.

Able to capitalize on the Jaguars’ mistake, the New Orleans Saints would drive down a short field to score a 21-yard Will Lutz field goal, taking the lead for the second time today. Needing to recover from the interception, Minshew would go on to conduct his best drive of the day completing three out of four of his next passes for 37 yards driving the ball deep into Saints territory. A Cameron Jordan sack stopped any thought of the Jaguars scoring a touchdown and they instead would be forced to settle for another field goal, tying the game at six, deep into the third quarter.

The Jaguars’ defense would come up big during the day as they limited Saints’ running back Alvin Kamara to only 31 rushing yards on 11 carries. A complete 180 from last week when they allowed 285 rushing yards to Christian McCaffrey and the Carolina Panthers.

The Saints’ next scoring possession would come at the start of the fourth quarter when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would find Jared Cook over the middle of the field for a four-yard touchdown putting the Saints lead to — what seemed like — an insurmountable 13-6 lead.  The closet the Jaguars would get to the end zone would come on the drive right after. On a fourth-and-two, instead of electing to kick a field goal or punt the football at the Saints’ 40-yard line, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone went for it.

A Minshew incompletion would stop the Jaguars from getting any further, and ultimately would be the team’s last opportunity to score. The Jaguars did get the ball one more time but amounted to only four yards on a late fourth-quarter drive.

The Jaguars will have to regroup for their contest next week against the Cincinnati Bengals. Both teams are struggling currently, and if the Jaguars want to have any chance at making the playoffs this year, they will need to steal a win in Cincy.

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