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What we learned: A day after with Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone

Demetrius Harvey

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Sep 29, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone on the sidelines at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

After changing the course of the season just a couple of days ago, there was plenty to gather from the Jaguars 26-24 victory against the Denver Broncos.

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone met with the Jacksonville media on Monday via conference call. While there was much to like about the Jaguars victory over the Denver Broncos, Marrone had some interesting thoughts to unpack as we move forward.

Here is what we learned:

Jaguars cornerback D.J. Hayden is turning heads

Not often talked about, Jaguars cornerback D.J. Hayden is one of the most underrated members of Jacksonville’s fantastic secondary. He made plenty of plays on Sunday which do not always show up on the box score, and Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has taken notice.

“I think the physicality of how he plays, and even not just being able to tackle in space and get in there on some tackles, but even the ability to pressure,” Marrone said when asked about his appreciation of Hayden. “So, I think those things are things that don’t show up in the box score.”

Marrone singled out one play that does show up in the box score, but can oftentimes go unnoticed. Near the end of the third quarter, Hayden is traveling with Broncos’ wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton across the middle of the field. The Jaguars up only by three at this point 20-17 and needing a stop, Hayden came up big and broke up a pass that quite possibly could have went for a first down on third-and-seven.

“That one sticks out because of the way the game was played the other night, but he’s been rock solid. He really has.”


Gardner Minshew is making Doug Marrone reconsider preseason evaluations

During the preseason almost no one believed Garnder Minshew would be the savvy, veteran-Esque rookie quarterback he is today. That includes Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone. Marrone was unsure during the preseason if Minshew would be the primary backup to Nick Foles.

Now, Marrone is rethinking the way he evaluates the position in the preseason.

“I’ve always said he did a great job in practice if you remember that. It’s just we weren’t getting the production in the preseason games, so I felt real comfortable about where he was on the practice field and what he was doing, I just would have liked to see more production,” Marrone said when asked about whether or not he considered a veteran backup over Minshew.

“I think it’s changed the way I think now a little bit with that position in the preseason, about who’s around him, and what’s going on and trying to get a good beat on what that player is going to be able to do.”

Minshew has been dynamic for the Jaguars — especially in the last two weeks. Over the season Minshew has completed 84 out of 121 passes (69.4%) for seven touchdowns and one interception. He is the only quarterback in the NFL over the last 30 years (since 1990) to post a 95.0 or better passer rating in each of his first four career games.

No one could have guessed the rookie sensation to have the kind of season he is having thus far in his career.


The team’s identity is still up in the air, but Marrone has a good idea of what he wants it to be

Over the past several years the Jaguars were known as one of the most physical teams in the NFL. Especially on defense, the Jaguars would be the team to downright bully an opponent. Now, with many changes on the roster — including a change at quarterback –, the Jaguars are still searching for what kind of team they want to be.

When asked about the Jaguars’ identity during his Monday afternoon conference call, Marrone said: “I think it’s still an early sample size, and I think we’re working to be a physical football team on both fronts and being able to make plays on both ends and in the back end.”

The Jaguars are proving they can do both. On offense and defense. The physicality they showed on defense against the Titans just a week-and-a-half ago, and the physicality they showed on offense on Sunday against the Broncos was outstanding.

The speed at linebacker and on the backend of the defense is evident. The speed provided by receivers DJ Chark and Chris Conley is obvious. Now, the team must continue to remain consistent, as Marrone says, in order to solidify just the type of team they want to be.

“If we keep going the way we are, and we keep developing, and getting better, and learning from our mistakes, and not getting these penalties and things of that nature, I think we have an opportunity to be a good football team.”


Marrone will continue platooning at the right guard position

During the game on Sunday, Marrone split the repetitions at right guard between veteran A.J. Cann and second-year player Will Richardson for the majority of the game. Cann ended up playing more snaps (50) than Richardson (35), however much of that had to do with the long 16-play drive to open the third quarter by the Jaguars offense which Cann participated in.

Typically, a team would like to see consistency along the offensive line. This means, all five starters will — theoretically — start and finish the game without missing a single snap. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone does not feel that absolutely has to be the case as long as the production from the two players gets the job done.

“I’m not going to lock myself into saying a permanent solution is going to be one or the other if they’re being productive for us,” Marrone said when asked whether or not he is closer to finding a permanent starter at right guard. “I think right now, with both of those players playing, I think we’re getting production right now and I think it’s something that’s going to help us as the season goes along.”

Marrone is perfectly fine with playing both players throughout the rest of the season. Whether this will change, and one player separates themselves, remains to be seen.

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

Demetrius Harvey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Jaguars defense played extraordinary on Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Leonard Fournette is playing his best brand of football

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

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

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

Demetrius Harvey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GAME RECAP: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jaguars vs. Saints inactives: Ramsey out for third-straight game

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 15, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) warms up prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars will be without one of their star players for a third-straight week when they kickoff against the New Orleans Saints in a little over an hour. 

]Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey will be inactive for a third-straight week today after being listed as questionable. Ramsey has not played for the past two weeks due to a back injury and practiced on a very limited basis leading up to today’s game.

Jaguars defensive end Lerentee McCray came into Sunday as questionable with an oblique injury. However, after fully practicing on Friday he will be suiting up for the Jaguars today. McCray is an important piece to the Jaguars’ special teams unit.

Somewhat surprising, the Jaguars have benched rookie linebacker Quincy Williams in favor of veteran linebacker Najee Goode. Williams struggled mightily last week against Christian McCaffrey and the Carolina Panthers.

The Jaguars will need a fantastic performance today out of second-year cornerback Tre Herndon as he goes up against Saints’ star receiver Michael Thomas.

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