The Jacksonville Jaguars have a chance to make a statement this weekend against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field.
When Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo talks about quarterback Gardner Minshew, he cannot help to get a little excited. The rookie has overachieved in the best way possible this season. Now, having faced a tough Carolina defense just one week ago, the Jaguars come home with potentially their toughest game of the season this weekend staring them in the face.
Everyone welcome the New Orleans Saints to Duuuval!
"“I think he trusts his preparation. I think anytime you go through game week after game week after game week, I think you get into a routine,” DeFilippo speaks of his prized pupil.“I see him much more comfortable in his routine throughout the week. On the field, I just think it has more to do with the 10 guys that are around him than it does him. I just think you see the other 10 guys believe. It was kind of an unknown for all of us when he went in there against Kansas City when Nick went down on play [No. 11].”"
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If not for the solid play of a rookie and a running game that has suddenly caught fire, who knows where the Jaguars might be right now. Minshew is the perfect storm for this team in the wake of off-field concerns about Jalen Ramsey and a defense that has suddenly lost its identity. It’s something DeFilippo has developed and players have brought into it.
"“I think you just see an organization, not only players and coaches, but I think that you see an organization believe that he’s going to go out there and perform. That is a credit to him.,” DeFilippo added."
This is one of those games that could be a shoot out or it could be a defensive struggle. I am hoping for a defensive standoff with the Jaguars coming out on top. But the game must first be played.
Here are three bold predictions for Sunday’s game.
Two rushing touchdowns for Mustache Mania – Minshew was at his best in the final minutes of the game at Denver and at Carolina. He is a mobile passer who can make tough yards with his feet if nothing develops downfield.
Minshew’s accuracy and his ability to read changes in defenses on the field are critical to the Jaguars success. We have seen him throw touchdowns with the game on the line, but we haven’t seen him use his feet to get in the endzone.
That changes this week.
The defensive front for New Orleans could mean Minshew is on the move often during the game. If given the chance, he will be the difference in the ground game this week. I’m not saying Leonard Fournette won’t get his opportunities to move with the football, but the Saints will key on him the majority of the afternoon.
Since Minshew has been successful on play-action, if there is nothing open downfield, look for DeFilippo to give his quarterback the green light to run if possible.
Sorry, Allen Robinson.
The Chark-Minshew connection is fluid and should be challenged by the Saints secondary. Chark grabs 10 passes for 200-plus yards and touchdown, which is just the tip of the iceberg of what this second-year player can do on a football field.
"“I have said this for a long time since I have been here. I really like our skill players on this team. I like all our players, but we are talking [about] doubling receivers now, tight ends. We have guys that can win one-on-one matchups if they try and bracket certain players,” DeFilippo said.“Does that make us concerned? Sure. Whenever someone tries to take one of your best players out of the game, that’s cause for concern and cause to try and game plan him where that can be alleviated as much as possible.”"
A healthy scratch – In what could be considered the unkindest cut of all, the Jaguars are told Jalen Ramsey is healthy and wants to play, but head coach Doug Marrone gives his cornerback the weekend off once again, which sends him into another tirade on the sidelines.
The one thing we have not seen is the Jaguars show some muscle in biting back after Ramsey makes a comment on a podcast or uses the media and his agent to send a message to the organization. There is culpability on both sides here.
If the Jaguars want to make the biggest statement about this situation and where they stand, injury or no injury, then they make the decision to sit their most polarizing player.
If the Jaguars did sit Ramsey, and since this is a hypothetical situation, the front office had better be prepared to trade him on Monday.