The Jaguars were back on the practice field on Wednesday and have to rally around their rookie QB, Gardner Minshew, to re-ignite their season. And their opponent, may be the perfect for them, too.
Minshew took over in the second half for an ineffective Nick Foles, as Foles committed turnovers on each of Jacksonville’s first three possessions. Now, he’s back as their starter to see if the 4-8 Jags can salvage some games in December.
Now, the 4-win L.A. Chargers come stumbling to North Florida off a dramatic loss in Denver and yet, somehow, have been listed as 2.5-point underdogs by top sports betting sites.
Philip Rivers and the Chargers, new-look defense is coming to Jacksonville to try and move to 5-8 and make a run at a .500 season. In effect, both of these teams’ seasons are all but over, so they are just playing for pride. And while mathematically, the Jags are not completely out of the AFC South race, yet, let’s be honest … the Titans and Texans are not going to drop four straight games … and it definitely isn’t looking like the Jags are going to win four straight.
Coach Doug Marrone is clearly in trouble and everything they try is not working. There were plenty of games that the Jaguars could have or should have won, but didn’t. And, now they are sitting on the very bottom of the AFC South with few games remaining.
Onto to the matchup.
The Chargers have owned the Jaguars historically, as they have won in two of the last three and seven of the last ten meetings. But right now, this is a pretty good spot for the Jags.
When we look at standard offense on any given Sunday, the L.A. Chargers are about two points better than the Jacksonville Jaguars on average. The Chargers put up 20.33 points per game against the Jags 18.33. It would be nice for Jaguars fans, if the Chargers performed significantly worse on the road, but they don’t.
They are almost exactly the same level of bad whether at home in Los Angeles or out on the road. And unfortunately, for Jags fans who buy tickets to home games, they have let them down at TIAA Field by performing worse in Jacksonville, to the tune of nearly three points per game. They score just 15.83 on their home field.
The yardage stats are comparable in this one, as the Chargers pass for 255.33 per game, while the Jags pass for 242.50. The Chargers rush for 92 yards per game, while the Jags run game with Leonard Fournette has dropped off to 79.67 average, currently.
On defense, the Chargers are a respectable top ten unit (No. 7 in the league) that allows just 18.50 points per game. They hold teams to 212 yards passing and 97.83 yards rushing.
However, that’s where Minshew will put them to the test. He is far more mobile than Foles and got Jacksonville 11 points in the second half Sunday with them driving for more. That is until the rookie’s killer interception at the Tampa Bay goaline midway through the fourth quarter.
So, most of the numbers point the another Jacksonville loss. That said, the Chargers have lost three straight but have shown some flashes of brilliance. So too did Minshew, who won four games in eight tries earlier this year as the fill-in starter.
If you can avoid this game for your “Survivor Pools” do so … If you are a bettor … stay away.
This is a game where anything can happen, especially with “Minshew Mania” back.
Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue hinting he’s gone again?
One of the key free-agent questions for the Jaguars continues to be whether or not they’re going to allow their best pass rusher, Yannick Ngakoue, to test the free-agent market coming up? And, once again, the player may be giving a clue that he’s going to do just that.
Ngakoue tweeted Wednesday morning the following phrase, which seems to indicate, yet again, that he will be playing somewhere else in 2020:
— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) February 26, 2020
This goes along with something that we wrote earlier in January. That’s when just a couple of days after the season Ngakoue posted essentially a goodbye message to Jaguar fans. This came on the heels of him having held out for a new contract for the first few days of training camp last August, but not receiving a new deal during the season, etc.
Ngakoue, whose 37.5 career sacks are the most by a Jaguars player after 63 career games, is sure to be a sought-after player from many different teams. GM Dave Caldwell said at the end of the season when asked about re-sgning his star pass rusher, “He is a tremendous player and even a better person. How he handled his business this year was tremendous. But, I would say that’s priority No. 1, to make sure he comes back to Jacksonville. Hopefully, we can get that done. ″
It’s also worth noting that at Tuesday’s NFL Scouting Combine at media availability in Indianapolis, coach Doug Marrone repeated that he wants Ngakoue to remain in Jaguars teal and white:
Doug Marrone: ‘’No doubt where I stand or the coaches.”
—They want Yannick Ngakoue back. pic.twitter.com/vOorH4hH95
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 26, 2020
However, it remains to be seen if Marrone and Caldwell are willing to “pony up” huge money for him or even potentially, put the franchise tag on him before free agency begins next month?
Ngakoue figures to want a contract close to what the top ends are getting paid right now. Demarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark both signed five-year, over $100 million deals in 2019 and received guaranteed money that exceeded $62 million. That is massive for Jacksonville.
If the Jags opt for the “franchise tag,” then the talented end will be making around $19 million dollars, which is the current average of the top five players at his position. The Jaguars could also put the tag on him and then work on a longer term, salary cap friendly, deal that would replace the tag later in the off season.
Jaguars confirm they are declining option on DT Dareus
At Tuesday’s media session at the NFL Scouting Combine, Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell made official what had been rumored for the last couple of days regarding defensive tackle Marcell Dareus: he will not be brought back for a fourth season in Jacksonville.
Caldwell confirmed the Jaguars are not picking up DT Marcell Dareus' option.
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 25, 2020
Dareus only played briefly in 2019, as he suffered a core muscle injury that sidelined him after only six games and he was placed on injured reserve. The former number one pick of the Buffalo Bills had played for coach Doug Marrone for a couple of seasons in Western New York.
Marrone and Caldwell traded for Dareus during the 2017 season and he helped them with their rise to the AFC South title and two playoff wins. This included Darius registering two sacks and four other tackles-for-loss in the Jaguars three playoff games that year.
Dareus made the Pro Bowl twice in Buffalo in 2013-14.
However, he has not lived up to his hefty contract that was reworked Jacksonville last February. Last season, Dareus made over $8 million dollars and the team would have been on the hook for $20 million this year had they picked up the option. That obviously wasn’t going to happen.
Dareus also has had legal troubles off the field, including a civil suit against him in Tampa for alleged sexual misconduct. As we wrote previously, a woman alleged that Dareus had sexually assaulted her in January of 2018 at a North Tampa Florida home, while Dareus was in town for the Alabama-Clemson College Football Playoff Championship Game.
However, that suit filed in Hillsborough County court was “dismissed with prejudice” last April, which means it cannot be re-filed.
Dareus, if healthy after the core muscle injury rehab, may have some value as a defensive tackle on the free agent market.
As for the Jaguars, they have former #1 pick defensive tackle Taven Bryan to play more in the middle and are trying to decide if free agent-to-be, DE Yannick Ngakoue, can be afforded for their 2020 salary cap?