Was the decision to go for the win on Sunday the right call for the Jacksonville Jaguars?
If the Jacksonville Jaguars miss the playoffs by a single game or tie-breaker this season, we are all going to look back at the 13-12 loss to the Houston Texans and stew over Doug Marrone’s decision to go for two points instead of sending the game into overtime.
The Jaguars, coming off a 40-26 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the first week of the season, played a better brand of defense against quarterback Deshaun Watson and the Texans passing game, that was held at bay for the majority of the afternoon at NRG Stadium.
Houston’s running game gauged the Jaguars, gaining critical yards when it was needed and eating up time off the clock. A true defensive struggle came down to the closing seconds where the Jaguars offense, engineered by rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, somehow found a way to get into the end zone to give the lifeless offense a chance to win the game.
Marrone’s decision to win the game rather than send it into overtime may haunt this franchise moving forward. Was sending Leonard Fournette up the middle without trying to create something with Minshew the right move?
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"“We had a bunch of different plays called. So in other words, we had a play for Cover 0, we had a play for Red 2,” Marrone explained to the media following the game. “We had a play for single-high man, we had a play for bear man, and really at the end of the day, we were fine with either one. Again, you come up a couple inches short and we lost the game. It was a decision that I made prior to us getting the last possession.”"
In a game of inches, as football is, a measuring stick now grows a little smaller as rumbling from the fan base over an 0-2 start and the Tennessee Titans coming to town on Thursday. Things look a bit grim for Marrone and his team, one that has looked good on offense one week and stagnant the next. The same can be said for the defense but in the opposite direction.
Personally, I liked the decision to win the game. Marrone comes into this season already on the hot seat, needing to win and show progress after a dismal 5-11 record last season. The Jaguars lost their starting quarterback Nick Foles with a broken clavicle and now rely on Minshew to bring the team back from the proverbial dead after the team could not muster anything on offense the first three-quarters of the game.
Marrone continued to explain the situation after the touchdown pass from Minshew to DJ Chark.
"“I said that if we returned the punt for touchdown with DD then I was probably going for go for the extra point,” he added. “They said if we start driving this football and we score with a certain amount of time left, I said I’m going to go for two.”"
It wasn’t just Marrone’s decision that played a factor in the Jaguars loss on Sunday. Self-inflicted wounds in the way of penalties once again affected the team’s movement up and down the field.
"“The offensive line did a lot of damage to the Jaguars’ chances of winning in the second half,” ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco explained. “A holding penalty on RT Jawaan Taylor wiped out a big gain and LT Will Richardson got beat on an inside spin move by Whitney Mercilus, who sacked Minshew and forced a fumble the Texans turned into a touchdown.”"
The Jaguars front five had issues containing the Texans pass rush, which had four sacks on the day and forced Minshew to fumble the ball three times, of which he lost one. The running game was also an issue with Fournette gaining just 47 yards on 15 carries. Minshew led the team with 56 yards on six carries, including one run of 21 yards in the second half.
The Jaguars had 281 yards of total offense in the afternoon. Minshew accounted for 234 yards rushing and passing on Sunday.