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Preseason Week 2: Philadelphia Eagles vs Jacksonville Jaguars preview

Brandon Carroll

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Oct 28, 2018; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (17) attempts to catch a pass in the end zone in the fourth quarter against Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox (29) during an NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. The Eagles defeated the Jaguars 24-18. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off an atrocious performance in Baltimore in the preseason opener, the Jacksonville Jaguars look to regroup as they return to Jacksonville. While there is room for concern surrounding the depth the Jaguars have, last Thursday’s showing against the Ravens shouldn’t be taken too seriously. 

Yes, there is still an aspect of competition that raises questions surrounding the team, but the Jaguars decided to sit over 30 players on their roster. This included nearly all projected starters and young talent taken in this year’s draft that have already been stricken by the injury bug. 

Trying to battle back and prove to fans that last week was not an indication of how the 2019 season is going to turn out, Jacksonville is prepared to take on the Philadelphia Eagles in week 2 of the preseason. 

Game Time info:

When: Thursday, August 15th, 7:00 P.M. EST

Where: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL

Watch: WFOX (FOX30 Jacksonville)

Listen: Jacksonville 1010XL AM, 92.5FM


Five Keys to Success: 

  1. Stay Injury Free. Preventing injury is a major focus going into this week. As we’ve seen thus far since football action has resumed, Jacksonville’s players seem to be dropping like flies. The amount of players that are getting stung by the injury bug is too much for bad luck. The Jaguars need to take action to avoid injuries that occur too often in preseason play. Giving them time to be prepared for week one. Therefore, they look to yet again sit the majority of their starting players and focus on evaluating the younger talent. 
  2. Produce Offensively. While many offensive starters are projected to sit yet again in week two of the preseason, it is still imperative that some form of production occurs on the offensive end. Proving that the offense can gain yardage and sustain drives without the starters shows signs of depth, a piece of the puzzle Jacksonville has yet to crack. After the lackluster performance seen last week, young offensive players need to step up to prove they not only deserve a spot on the roster but they are determined to have an impact for the team in some capacity. 
  3. Find depth pieces. The Jaguars are still searching for players that can step in case of injury to a starting player. Having depth behind starting talent is the key to any successful team. C.J. Reavis is one player that nearly solidified his role last week with well-rounded play and looks to build upon that on Thursday. Its other players turn to step up and take on the roles they aspire to be in. No better way to do that by showing it on the field.
  4. Solidify the offensive line. A lingering position battle that remains up in the air is that of the offensive line. Being able to depict the players’ abilities that give them the best shot of having a stout front five will be the center of attention for the offense. Having a starting five established before the season begins will create more room to develop chemistry as a unit. 
  5. Relax. After last week’s performance against Baltimore, it’s not the time for Jacksonville to panic. The Jaguars realize the talent they have in starting positions and electing to sit some of their guys shouldn’t come as a surprise. Sitting starters also allows the Jaguars to evaluate potential backup/depth pieces. Staying focused on what the preseason is all about would be a huge success for Jacksonville. They mustn’t make rash decisions to please those surrounding the franchise who had concerns after week one of the preseason. 

Key Matchups: 

D.J. Chark vs. Eagles Secondary

Entering his sophomore season for the Jaguars, Chark is looking to grow into a big-time receiver. As such, he received a bulk of targets and repetitions during training camp. Last week, Chark was the only top-end receiver to get any playing time, and getting him reps after missing the majority of last season, is pivotal. It will be interesting to see how Chark fares against the Eagles secondary.

With the physical attributes to be great, his hard work and dedication to development should allow him to separate himself from the rest of the field of receivers. 

Being able to produce against top tier defensive backs like Ronald Darby and Malcolm Jenkins will provide insight on if he’s growing into a serious threat outside. 

Gardner Minshew vs. Eagles Defense

The Eagles defense is sure to be a test for rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew. After a shaky first start, Minshew looks to refocus for his first action at home in Jacksonville. 

Throwing against the Philadelphia secondary is difficult for any quarterback in the NFL, especially for a rookie who’s playing to be the priamary backup quarterback. Being able to get the ball out of his hand quickly and putting them on target would be a good start to game two. 

Slowing the game down and dissecting the defense will be a tough task for Minshew. If he can get it done, he will without a doubt go into the season as Nick Foles’ backup.

Jaguars Linebackers vs. Eagles offense 

The Jaguars have some concerns going into the season with their linebacking corps. Quite possibly the most vulnerable position on the team, the linebacker unit took some shots early on before the preseason even started. With Telvin Smith announcing that he would be sitting out for the 2019 season to focus on his personal life, the injuries of players destined to fill in for him (Quincy Williams and Jake Ryan) have been detrimental for the Jaguars growth. 

Having other players that can fill the roles that Smith once held will be a major matchup to watch when they face off against the Eagles on Thursday. Najee Good and D.J. Alexander are the most talented linebackers remaining that have the chance to play in the absence of Ryan and Williams. 

Analyzing the way they read and react to plays and how well they play in coverage will determine if they play extensively in the regular season. 

Six Players to Watch: 

1.  Gardner Minshew

The way Minshew played in his NFL debut raised concerns for the depth at quarterback for Jacksonville. Minshew got off to a slow start, showing lack of urgency and an inability to get into much of a rhythm. Although much of this was caused by a very bad Jaguars offensive line, showing improvement is key to his success this week. In week two, Minshew is destined to start again and should be looking to find that rhythm. Look for Minshew to come out firing with something to prove. 

2.  Taven Bryan

After being drafted in the first round of the 2018 draft Bryan had a dissapointing rookie season, and did not live up to expectations. As the Jaguars continue to advance closer and closer to the regular season, the guy they looked at as someone who would replace all-pro defensive tackle Malik Jackson has continued to have minimal impact on the field. Getting driven back at the snap and playing with no sense of tenacity has been Bryan’s downfall. Watch to see if he can get going the way he produced at Florida. The Jaguars drafted him to be the Wyoming Wildman, unfortunately, that side of Bryan has not been seen since lining up in orange and blue. If he’s not able to bring that side out of him in the preseason, he may have very little playtime come September 8th. 

3. Will Richardson

Two years removed from college, Richardson is looking to take over the wide-open starting spot at right guard. Formerly occupied by A.J. Cann, Richardson is quickly becoming the front runner to replace him. Being drafted as a right tackle, he made the switch to right guard as the Jaguars coaching staff saw he had the talent to play on the inside of the line. Utilizing all the talent on the team is a focus the Jaguars have made for this season. Being able to see Richardson and the progress he has made since his switch will be a point of interest Thursday versus the Eagles. 

4. C.J. Reavis 

Coming off an effort where he showed everyone that he was here to stay, Reavis looks to build upon his previous outing where he accounted for eight tackles and was the bright spot for the Jaguars team as a whole. Watching to see if he can maintain consistency in dissecting plays as they’re happening and attacking the ball carrier will be huge in earning a spot as a backup safety. 

5. Quadree Henderson

Playing wide receiver, Henderson is one of the newest additions to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Coming from the University of Pittsburgh and having short stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Jets, the second-year player is looking to carve out a role in Duval. Only starting one year in college, Henderson made Second-team All-ACC and played a big role for the Panthers. Being a new addition, Henderson will be someone to keep an eye on in evaluating what he brings to the table as a receiver and a returner in Jacksonville.

6. D.J. Chark 

Chark is a player that continues to develop within the Jaguars organization. After not having much of a shot at figuring out his role last season, Chark is looking to make that jump to stardom. Someone that combines speed and size has the opportunity to be a perennial powerhouse for the Jaguars in more ways than one. Chark will line up as a wide receiver in the second preseason game but expect to see him in different positions when the season opens up against Kansas City.

Brandon Carroll is a 19-year-old college student aspiring to be involved in sports media. He has been writing for Locked On Jaguars for about many months now and has published multiple articles during his time. His love for the game of football is apart of who he is as a person and he continues to showcase that love through writing.

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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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