Forget about the cute promotional mustaches being passed out to the fans. Forget about the guaranteed money the Jaguar put in front of Nick Foles back in March. Right now, the team has won four times in six games, it’s in the playoff conversation and it’s in large part because of rookie QB, Gardner Minshew.
And whether or not Foles is healthy enough to return either in London Sunday against the Texans or after the Jaguars bye week, it’s obvious what coach Doug Marrone and the organization should do.
Or should we say, not do.
They can’t take Minshew out at this point.
Sunday’s latest display about what the former Washington State QB brings to the current 2019 version of the Jags showed you all that you need to know. He has accuracy- completing 22 of 34 passes for another 279 yards and three more scores Sunday. He has poise, as he is staying away from turnovers unlike Jets 2nd year QB Sam Darnold. Darnold threw three picks Sunday and basically undid his team’s chances to win.
And most of all, look at the way his teammates respond to Minshew. Celebrations after TDs, the engagement with his teammates on the sideline, everything that Minshew projects is leadership and winning.
So, why would you want to mess with that in the short term?
Yes, Foles was given the largest guaranteed contract ever for a Jags quarterback back during free agency, but he was hurt right away in the first quarter of game one. And his time may still come at some point in this season, if Minshew starts to falter or worse, suffers an injury, himself.
However, the results are the results and the Jaguars are winning.
Yes, some of it is the power running of Leonard Fournette mixed with a solid defense that is back wreaking havoc on quarterbacks with pressure and sacks.
But,” news flash” – that’s the way they were going to win with Nick Foles in at QB, as well.
Further, Foles has been used to this situation the last couple of years in Philadelphia, where he was waiting for his opportunity as a backup. And, eventually, it came when Carson Wentz was injured at the end of each of the last two years. So, this is familiar territory for the veteran.
Again, Minshew could still falter and no one would blame Marrone and the team at that point for putting Foles back in.
However, if you take the rookie out, now and Foles is bad? Then, you’ve got everyone rightfully ripping you for messing with success.
There’s a great Axiom in present-day sports about free agency and trades: “Sometimes the best move is the one that you don’t make.”
For now, the Jaguars would be wise to heed that.
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?