So far, they’ve been riding high behind rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew who has played well in relief of the injured Nick Foles. The Jacksonville Jaguars have earned back-to-back wins over Tennessee and last week in the final seconds at Denver, however, Minshew Mania came up a bit bit too short against the Carolina Panthers.
It was a hard fought battle between two back up QBs in Minshew and Kyle Allen as well as two star RBs between Leonard Fournette, and potential league MVP Christian McCaffrey.
Unfortunately for the Jags, McCaffrey ran through their defense immediately in a 78 yard drive to start the game, resulting in a TD to put the Panthers up 7-0 early in the first quarter.
Minshew responded quickly, with a 37 TD yard pass to DJ Chark to capitalize on a 75 yard drive.
McCaffrey then grabbed his second touchdown of the game, followed by a fumble by Minshew recovered and returned by Brian Burns to put Carolina up 21-7.
However, Minshew kept the game competitive at half with two back to back scoring drives, first, 83-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Chark followed by kicker Josh Lambo’s 35-yard field goal, cutting the Panthers’ lead to 21-17 at halftime.
And in his third and final TD of the game McCaffrey (photo above) ran for an 84-yard touchdown on Carolina’s first play after halftime, putting the Panthers up 28-17.
Christian McCaffrey 84-yard TD, his third TD of the day.pic.twitter.com/VueHz73FMh
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 6, 2019
But their lead was immediately cut down to one when Minshew connected with Chark on a 31 yard reception, capped by a 1 rush into the end zone by Fournette.
After stopping McCaffrey on a 4th-and-1, Josh Lambo nailed a 38-yard field goal, making the score 27-28 with just under 6 minutes remaining.
The Jag’s defense were unable to stop Panthers running back Reggie Bonnafon’s 59-yard run to put Carolina up by 8.
On the Jags final drive, Minshew completed a pass wide receiver Marqise Lee, giving them a first down at the Panthers 34 with :19 remaining, however, Minshew’s final pass from the 24-yard line was incomplete, and the Panthers took home the 34-27 win at home.
For the second consecutive week, the Jaguars went without their best defensive back, Pro Bowl corner, Jalen Ramsey, who was spotted hanging out with Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson Sunday afternoon in Houston, as the Jags game was taking place.
This looming question question remains: whether or not Ramsey it’s going to be in a Jaguar uniform much longer? He’s made no secret that he has requested a trade looking to leave the franchise that drafted him in the first round in 2016.
As we previously wrote, it appears the Jaguars are not inclined to deal Ramsey at the moment, probably because they don’t like the compensation package that has been offered by other teams. We further reported that a source told us Ramsey does not have a major problem with Coach Doug Marrone. His bigger issue is with VP of football Tom Coughlin, who will ultimately be in charge of whether Ramsey gets a long-term massive contract extension with the Jaguars.
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?