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Jacksonville Jaguars

Preseason Week 3: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins preview

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 15, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles (7) looks on during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

This week against the Miami Dolphins, the Jacksonville Jaguars will finally get a really good look at their $88M prized possession, Nick Foles. Foles, along with the starting offensive line, Leonard Fournette, and the majority of the teams’ starting players will get the ball rolling early against the Dolphins. How long they will play for likely depends on the success of the team, however, they won’t be playing for very long.

The game will be televised nationally on FOX, so everyone will finally get a good look at the $88M man. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be calling the game.

The only players not set to play for the Jaguars on Thursday are: Marqise Lee (knee), Alfred Blue (ankle), Jake Ryan (knee), Quincy Williams (knee), Davis Tull (leg), Charles Jones (foot), Geoff Swaim (foot), Josh Oliver (hamstring), and Marcell Dareus (elbow).

Lee was recently activated from the teams’ PUP list and should be ready to go for the regular season.

Game Time info

  • When: Thursday, August 22nd, 8:00 PM  ET
  • Where: Hard Rock Stadium Miami Gardens, FL
  • Watch: FOX (FOX30 Jacksonville)
  • Listen: Jacksonville 1010XL AM, 92.5FM

Five Keys to Success

  1. Stay Healthy. Once again this is the number one key to success. Even if the Jaguars completely bomb their dress-rehearsal game, as long as they come out of the game fully healthy there is no harm, no foul. Left tackle Cam Robinson will be seeing his first in-game action since tearing his ACL in week two of the 2018 regular season. Keeping him fresh is going to be pivotal for the Jaguars offense this season.
  2. Establish chemistry on the offensive line. The Jaguars will finally get their starting offensive line together on the field at the same time in a game. This is a great opportunity for the team to establish chemistry between each other along with Foles.
  3. Win the trench war. This goes for the offensive and defensive line. The Jaguars must get push on both sides of the football this week to establish the run and get after the quarterback. This will be the first in-game action which will showcase the Jaguars renewed “lightning package”. This includes Josh Allen, Calais Campbell, Taven Bryan, and Yannick Ngakoue. While the team will be without defensive tackle Marcell Dareus for this matchup, it will be a great way to take a look at their renewed pass rush.
  4. Showcase Nick Foles. While the Jaguars do not have to pass the football every down, and they certainly will not do so, getting the most out of Foles’ action tonight will be pivotal to the teams’ success moving forward. Being able to establish in-game camaraderie never hurts, and this is a prime opportunity to do it.
  5. Enjoy it. Jaguars fans will finally get their opportunity to see the first-team offense and defense. This game will ultimately set the tone for the regular season.

Key Matchups 

Jaguars receivers vs. Dolphins defensive backs

The Miami Dolphins have two premier defensive backs in their secondary in Xavien Howard and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Playing against either one will be a great test for the Jaguars receivers. This will be the first in-game action for UFA signee Chris Conley. Seeing him, Dede Westbrook and D.J. Chark compete against the Dolphins secondary will be an exciting matchup to watch. It will allow the Jaguars to get a great look at what they truly have at the position.

Jaguars offensive line vs. Dolphins defensive line

The Jaguars have not yet established what their offensive line will look like moving forward into the regular season. This will be a great test for them moving forward against the Dolphins’ defensive line which includes former first-round pick, Charles Harris.

Will Richardson vs. A.J. Cann

Although this is not a matchup between two opposing players, it will be a competition to watch during Thursday’s game. Offensive tackle/guard Will Richardson and A.J. Cann have been battling for the teams’ starting right guard position throughout training camp.

Five Players to watch

1. Nick Foles

Foles will be the focus for Thursday’s game against the Dolphins. Nationally. It will be the first in-game action anyone has seen Foles play since his playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints in February as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. For Jaguars fans they will finally get to see what kind of player the $88M man is. Foles will likely be playing only a couple of series depending on how the game goes, but he is absolutely the number one player to watch.

Nick Foles spoke to the Jaguars media shortly after practice on Sunday and was asked just how important getting the offensive line together was, he stated, “Really the most important piece of the offense is the offensive line. The way they work together, the way they communicate, the way we recognize fronts, our run game, our pass protection. The way that those guys communicate is a work of art, so to have them all out there working, developing, communicating is huge for us right now. So, it’s happening at the right time, so we have to really take advantage of every single day.”

If the Jaguars can establish their offensive line, it will lead to great success for Foles and the rest of the Jaguars offense.

2. Cam Robinson

Robinson has not played a down for the Jaguars since week-two of the 2018 regular season, and before last week there were questions regarding his availability for the start of the season. Instead, Robinson will play on Thursday night. The question remains, however, how much will the left tackle play?

Keep a close eye on Robinson and how he handles pass-rush snaps. His health is of the utmost importance to the Jaguars offensive line, which ultimately determines the success of the offense as a whole.

3. Leonard Fournette

Fournette has had a sort of revitalization of his career arc throughout this offseason. Not only has he shown up to nearly every offseason activity, but he has also shown up healthy and in shape. Keeping Fournette healthy will be majorly important for the Jaguars offense this season. Seeing him get some in-game action will be interesting.

4. Terrelle Pryor

After earning praise during the early portions of training camp, the fire lit by Pryor has become rather dim. Dealing with injuries for the past couple of weeks the former quarterback-turned-wideout has not had an opportunity to showcase his talents in games. This will be a great opportunity for Pryor to earn his spot on the 53-man roster which has seemingly been handed to him due to his size (6’4″ 228 pounds) and speed (4.30 40-yard dash).

The Jaguars will very likely be retaining six receivers at the final cutdowns, and Pryor is squarely in the mix.

5. Jawaan Taylor

Heading into week three of the preseason, it is unclear if Jaguars rookie offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor will receive the first-team snaps at right tackle. Coming off of a knee injury in which head coach Doug Marrone described as “not serious at all”, Taylor will be one of the key players to watch.

If he is able to establish himself as the starting right tackle opposite of Robinson, it will pay dividends to the Jaguars protection and run game moving forward. The Jaguars can ill-afford to head into the season with either Cedric Ogbuehi or Leonard Wester starting.

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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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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