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Jacksonville Jaguars

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

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 29, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) works out during warmups before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars look to rebound in a major way this Sunday against the Houston Texans. It all starts with rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, II who will start in place of the injured Nick Foles.

Nick Foles is out, and Gardner Minshew is in. The outcome for Sunday’s game against the Texans will likely be determined by the ability of the rookie quarterback. In order to be successful, the team must play better on defense and around Minshew.

Game Time info

  • When: Sunday, September, 15th 1:00 PM  ET
  • Where: NRG Stadium, Houston Texas
  • Watch: CBS47 (click)
  • Listen: Jacksonville 1010XL AM, 92.5FM

Five Keys to Success

  1. Stay healthy
    We put this every week, but I suppose the Jaguars are not listening. The Jaguars will be without at least six players due to various injuries on Sunday including offensive linemen Cam Robinson and Cedric Ogbuehi, cornerback A.J. Bouye, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, tight end Josh Oliver, and wide receiver Marqise Lee. No matter how hard the Jaguars tried to escape it, the injury bug has most definitely caught up.
  2. Stop (limit?) DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller
    Last week, the Jaguars faced probably the best offense in the NFL in the Kansas City Chiefs. This week, they face another daunting challenge with Texans receivers DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller. Fuller is one of five players in the NFL to record 10 receiving touchdowns on 100-or-less targets since 2017.
  3. Protect Minshew at all costs
    The Jaguars absolutely cannot afford another injury at the quarterback position. Last week, the team sent a 2020 fifth-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for quarterback Josh Dobbs. There is no reason for anyone to want Dobbs to take the field on Sunday. While the Texans got rid of defensive end Jadevon Clowney, they are still a force to be reckoned with along the front seven with J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.
  4. Get after the quarterback
    Last week, the Jaguars were unable to bring down Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. This week, they will be tasked with bringing down Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson. The good news for the Jaguars defensive line is Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson holds onto the ball (2.73 seconds per pass) much longer than Mahomes (2.42 seconds). The advantage should go to Jacksonville against Houston’s offensive line even without Ngakoue.
  5. Keep it simple
    Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash admitted he might have gotten a little “too cute” when playing the Chiefs explosive offense last week. This week, the defensive play-callers needs to keep it simple and allow his defense to just play their game. The Jaguars gave up seven straight scoring drives to the Chiefs last week.

Key Matchups 

  • Jalen Ramsey vs. DeAndre Hopkins
    This is fun. Every time these two players meet, something happens. Both players will get the best of each other, and Ramsey is likely to follow Hopkins around the field as he did with Hill last week. Hopkins spoke to the media last week and complimented the cornerback, and unsurprisingly, Ramsey did the same.
  • Josh Allen vs. Laremy Tunsil
    With Ngakoue out, Allen will be the Jaguars number one pass rusher going up against Houston Texans’ offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. Allen was highly complimentary of Tunsil last week and is looking forward to playing much better this week than he did in week one.
  • Jaguars receivers vs. Texans defensive backs
    Lee being out for Sunday’s matchup is inconsequential. The Jaguars top three receivers, Chris Conley, D.J. Chark, and Dede Westbrook are good to go. Chark put on a show last week against the Chiefs after hauling in four passes for 147 yards and a touchdown. The Texans secondary is suspect at best and should be a terrific matchup to watch on Sunday.
  • Jaguars secondary vs. Texans’ receivers
    The Jaguar secondary last week was, for lack of a better word, awful. Giving up 378 passing yards will not get it done. The Jaguars ranked second in pass defense last year, and currently rank 29th after their week one loss. Something’s gotta give this week against the Texans and the Jaguars will see — even without Bouye — how they will move forward on defense.

Players to watch

Gardner Minshew — Minshew Mania ran rampant in Jacksonville this week, off of a loss. If the mustache wearing, jorts sporting, rockstar from Mississippi can lead the Jaguars to victory there may be a parade. Absolutely the key player of the week, and the number one player to watch against the Texans on Sunday. Minshew will need to stay within himself and lead the Jaguars offense to scoring drives early and often. His old ball coach believes in him, do you?

Tre Herndon — Jaguars cornerback Tre Herndon needs to be ready against the Texans on Sunday. Going up against DeAndre Hopkins and/or Will Fuller is no easy task. Herndon said after practice on Friday that his preparation for Sunday’s game has not changed and he has leaned on Bouye for how he should cover Fuller and Hopkins. Both receivers present different, but equally effective difficulties.

Leonard Fournette — Fournette was off to a rather stellar game against the Chiefs last week before the Jaguars defense put them in a hole forcing the team to turn to the passing game. If the Jaguars can remain balanced on Sunday, Fournette should be in for another solid game, adding onto his 5.3 yards-per-carry average for the season.

Marcell Dareus — Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus missed last week’s matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs due to an elbow injury. Now that he’s back, the 331-pound defensive tackle should provide a force in the middle of the field, eating up blockers and allowing the linebackers to move more freely to the ball carrier. It will be important to keep a close eye on him as the game moves forward to see how healthy he truly is.

Official game prediction: Jaguars 10, Texans 24

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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Jacksonville Jaguars

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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