The preseason hype surrounding Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles ended quickly, when he broke his left clavicle in the first quarter of the opener Sunday with K.C., keeping him out indefinitely. Duval is wasting no time though…rallying behind rookie QB Gardner Minshew II. Partly because of his game, and partly because of his mustache.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) September 9, 2019
Minshew is expected to start at quarterback this Sunday against the Houston Texans. He played the final three quarters of a season-opening loss and had a solid, and at times outstanding, day, completing 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Minshew also played extensively in the preseason to get live reps.
The a sixth-round selection from Washington State spoke to the media on Wednesday about how he plans to enter into his new leadership role.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) September 11, 2019
“I learned a lot of things going to different schools and learned the right way to step in a try to lead and that’s going in and earning respect and not demanding respect.”
Similarly to how he stepped into his QB1 role, Minshew’s path into the NFL has been anything but traditional. He began his college football career in 2015 at Northwest Mississippi Community College and led his team to a NJCAA National Football Championship, passing for 3,228 yards with a 60.8% completion percentage.
Minshew then transferred to East Carolina University in 2016 where he played in seven games while starting two at QB for the Pirates. With one remaining year of eligibility he seriously considered becoming a third string QB at Alabama behind Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa, primarily to begin a foundation for an eventual coaching career.
However, Minshew decided to enroll as a graduate student at Washington State after receiving a phone call from Washington State head coach Mike Leach who asked him, “Do you want to be a backup at Alabama, or lead the nation in passing?” Last season he did in fact lead the nation in passing averaging 367.6 yards per game. Minshew was then selected by the Jaguars in the sixth round, 178th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.
While his impressive performance last Sunday landed him the starting spot for this weekend in Houston, he won’t be without any competition until Foles’ return. On Monday the team did a deal with the Steelers for backup QB, Joshua Dobbs.
Dobbs is a former 4th round pick in the 2017 draft by the Steelers out of the University of Tennessee. He did not play in a game in his rookie season and in 2018 saw limited action primarily in mop-up duty of five games throwing only 12 total passes for 43 yards and an interception.
While the Jags won’t be without any hope on offense, it’s clear they’ll be trying to piece together the next few weeks until Foles is back. It’s going to take others, like RB Leonard Fournette, to step up and carry more of the load in the short term, if the Jags are going to have any playoff chance at the end of the season.
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?