Did the loss by the Jaguars on Sunday end Gardner Minshew’s run as the team’s starting quarterback?
This game was the story of two quarterbacks, Deshaun Watson for the Texans and Minshew for the Jaguars. Watson had a day to remember with one magical play after another. Minshew had a day to forget as he ran for his life most time in Wembley Stadium.
The good news is the Jaguars have a much-needed bye week. The season is only at the halfway point and is not over. It is obvious that the Jaguars can defeat teams with losing records but have difficulty with the better teams in the league.
The defense played well enough to win but the offense did not. There are two things the Jaguars must look at during their time off. First the offensive line and next to the lack of a productive running game.
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The offensive line has played together long enough to begin to gel as a unit. They are still struggling with quarterback protection and we assume that is the reason that the Jaguars are playing the games that net between five and 10 yards off the line of scrimmage. There is no time for long pass plays to develop so they are throwing short passes and hoping to stretch the opposing defense after catching the football.
Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo must reassess his play-calling to add plays downfield. Minshew is often able to escape the rush but if Nick Foles returns as the starter, he is a much less mobile passer, which could create more issues in the pocket.
The running game, despite the fact that Leonard Fournette leads the AFC in rushing yards, has not made the big plays that open up the passing game. Jacksonville has only scored one rushing touchdown all season, something that the third-year running back has shown his frustration over this issue.
Jacksonville had 74 total yards rushing against the Texans. By contrast, former Jaguars running back Carlos Hyde rushed for 160 yards, but Houston’s offensive line played a better game despite injuries. Jacksonville plays with two tight ends and are amongst the top five in rushing as a team, but lack the speedy change of pace back to open up the defense.
Fournette is an up-the-middle type of runner but has been stopped after just crossing the line of scrimmage multiple times this season. He has been most effective when running off the left side between the tackle and guard.
As stated earlier, the defense is playing well enough to win most games. The young secondary has stepped up and the defensive line is as good as any in the league. They applied pressure on Watson most of the day and they kept the game within reach until the fourth quarter. Our young defenders Josh Allen and Taven Bryan are improving and Ronnie Harrison had two passes defended.
On paper, the stats look OK, but the most important stat is points scored and the Jaguars are 18th in the NFL in that category. The season is not over. The Jaguars can still make the playoffs with some luck, and key wins in the second half of the season.
This coming week allows the roster to heal from injuries and potentially make changes to the lineup as needed during the bye week.