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Jacksonville Jaguars

ROUNDTABLE: Jacksonville Jaguars Second Quarter Team Report Card

Zach Goodall

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Jun 12, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; A general view of the newly named TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Locked On Jaguars staff is back to hand out their second quarter report cards for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The first quarter report cards included 11 A’s (out of 28 total grades). This time, well… let’s just get to the grades.

(One (1) A out of 24 total grades, if you really wanted to know.)

Zach Goodall

Offense: F (Quarter 1: B)

Since the last report card came out, the Jaguars have scored six points in the first half of four games. 3/21 first half drives have gone for 40 or more yards. Blake Bortles has been benched midway through a game, only to be renamed starter the week after. This team misses Leonard Fournette, and doesn’t trust it’s current run game, handing the ball off to RBs on 48 of 252 (19%) total offensive plays dating back to Week 5. Miserable performance = miserable grade.

Defense: C+ (Quarter 1: A)

The defense had a bad game against Dallas that drags them down, but otherwise, they’ve been underperforming due to a lack of aggressive coaching (I’ll get to that later) and bad field position (thanks Blake). They have 149 QB pressures on 233 pass rush snaps this year, and the secondary plays to their capable level when in tight man coverage, which we see on occasion. When in zone, however, the linebackers have been getting eaten up in the underneath game. When the offense continues to put the defense in bad field position (see: Houston game) and on the field for long periods of time, the defense will naturally get tired and underperform, and that’s been the case as of late.

Special Teams: B- (Quarter 1: B+)

Josh Lambo has been perfect, going 12/12 on both field goals and extra points and setting a new career high of 57 yards on Sunday. But, Logan Cooke has struggled flipping the field at critical times, and despite some nice pins inside the 20 and a solid game against Philadelphia, those punts hurt the special teams grade a bit, just not substantially. Also, the return teams are underperforming, with 13 kickoffs averaging 17.1 yards per return, and 15 punts returning 7.3 yards per return.

Coaching: D (First quarter: B+)

After doing a really good job managing the offense without Leonard Fournette and the defense looking dominant once again in the first quarter, the coaching staff has a lot of blame on their shoulder for the four game losing streak. Nathaniel Hackett has been dependent on a poor passing game, running the ball on only 19% of plays and throwing 40+ times a game every week, EVEN AFTER trading for RB Carlos Hyde. Todd Wash has called a conservative defense that has led to the underneath passing zones to get eaten up and opposing run games to shine, when this team is more than capable to win when in tight man coverage and blitzing.

Chris Thornton

Offense: F (First quarter: B+)

Defense: D+ (First quarter: A)

Special Teams: B (First quarter: A)

Coaching: F (First quarter: B+)

Demetrius Harvey

Offense: D- (First quarter: C+)

I nearly assigned the Jaguars offense an F. Honestly, they probably deserve it, but because of circumstances out of their control – injuries – I settled on a D-. They were at the very least able to add to the offense and continued to try new things as it came to play calling. While nearly none of it worked, it is what occurred.

Defense: C+ (First quarter: A+)

The defense gets a C+, kind of the opposite of the offense, because they should have received a higher mark, but struggled because of the offense (time of possession and field position). The defense struggled heavily in the Dallas Cowboys game, as well as against the fire-powered Chiefs (understandably). I lowered them due to their run defense, it just has not been good. On 3rd down the Jaguars still have not been able to get pressure on the quarterback often enough, and it is now a trend.

Special Teams: B (First quarter: B)

The special teams received a higher mark than many would expect almost solely from kicker Josh Lambo. Not only has Lambo not missed a single kick this year, he also is 1/1 in onside kicks. Easily the Jaguars best player as far as consistency. Other than that, Logan Cooke has somewhat redeemed himself this quarter as his punts are not nearly as bad.

Coaching: D (First quarter: A)

Since head coach Doug Marrone want to continue to accept responsibility while consistently making no changes, they have received a D in the coaching department. Until they make any changes, I cannot reasonably give them any higher marks. Their worst mistake was continuing to go with Blake Bortles even though he was already benched once this season.

Zak Dewitt

Offense: F (First quarter: B+)

This offense is bad. Blake Bortles is trash. The play-calling is trash. The WRs aren’t doing them many favors. The run-game is non existent. This is trouble.

Defense: C (First quarter: A-)

The secondary has still been playing well but the regression from last year has come in the form of not generating turnovers. The defensive line also isn’t getting home but that’ll come.

Special Teams: B (First quarter: B)

I guess this is worth a B? Josh Lambo has been one of the only bright spots lately but the offense also isn’t putting our ST in good positions.

Coaching: D (First quarter: A)

The defensive and offensive coordinator need to go. The defensive scheme is very bad and the offensive playcalling hasn’t been much better. Doug Marrone also isn’t keeping this team disciplined and only he can fix that.

Dylan Goldman

Offense: F+ (First quarter: B+)

Yes, I acknowledge the injuries, but this offense has been putrid for the entire second quarter of the season. They had been shut out in the first half three games in a row up until last week. QB Blake Bortles was benched at one point, and he’s been the epitome the offense in the second quarter of the season.

Defense: C- (First quarter: A-)

The defense has been far from perfect, but the offense’s futility has them on the field often, and forces them to carry the lackluster offense. The defense kept them in games against Houston and Philly, but they were also very poor against KC and Dallas. This defense is far from what it was last year, but it hasn’t been completely terrible.

Special Teams: B+ (First quarter: B-)

Josh Lambo has been phenomenal all season, hitting on all his kicks, including a 57-yarder in London. Lambo has become automatic, and has been the only constant for Jacksonville’s offense. Punter Logan Cooke has been inconsistent, but has done a nice job of flipping the field at times recently.

Coaching: F+ (First quarter: B)

Although injuries have hampered the team, I can’t give the coaching staff an excuse for overseeing four straight losses. The decision to run so sparingly on Sunday was downright baffling, and I’m not quite sure Doug Marrone has handled the QB situation very well.

Christian Bedgood

Offense: D+ (First quarter: B-)

The often inconsistent Bortles has finally played consistently. The bad news is that he’s consistently holding the team back. After going three straight first halves without scoring, a Jaguars record, Bortles was benched vs the Texans just to be named starter vs the Eagles. Now with the season basically over much ado to Bortles, it’s time to find a replacement.

Defense: B+ (First quarter: A-)

Constantly being put in bad field position, the defense has been ridiculed for not playing well. If you like to be lazy and just look at the final score you sure could end at that conclusion, but the fact of the matter is that it’s not true. They aren’t the defense of yester-year. It would have been ridiculous to replicate that. But they have been good enough to win games even though they have rarely been in the position to play with a lead.

Special Teams: A (First quarter: A)

Josh Lambo hasn’t missed a kick this year and had a career high 57-yard field goal against the Eagles. He’s the main reason for this grade.

Coaching: C (First quarter: B+)

Fans want to scapegoat Nathaniel Hackett for his play calling as of late but for all the excuses Bortles gets for having drops and injuries, Hackett should get ten-fold just for having Bortles as his quarterback. It also doesn’t help when your head coach is saying he’s not confident in his offensive line when they’re only missing one starter and backed up the Brinks truck in free agency for Andrew Norwell.

Zach Goodall covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for the Locked On Jaguars podcast and website. Follow him on Twitter @zach_goodall.

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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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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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