It’s been a wild roller coaster rookie year for Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew, but on Sunday he was part of history in Oakland. Positive history for the Jaguars and negative history for all-time for the Raiders.
That’s because, in the waning moments of the final Raiders game at the Oakland Coliseum, Minshew led the game-winning touchdown drive to defeat the Raiders and put he and Jacksonville in the history book.
Minshew’s four yard touchdown pass to Chris Conley with :31 remaining, capping a 65-yard, 7 play drive, as Jacksonville went on to a 20 – 16 victory snapping their five-game losing streak.
But, this comeback was much more then just winning a game.
This was the final game the Raiders will play in Oakland. And, in front of newly re-hired coach Jon Gruden and the tens of thousands in “The Black Hole,” they all were left stunned. The final memory after 60 years of Madden, Stabler and Al Davis’ “Sliver and Black” running rough-shod over opponents, is the Jaguars celebrating on their field.
A team that hadn’t won a West Coast game in 14 years.
Yes, the Raiders are headed to Las Vegas next season and everyone understood when the schedule came out in April, Jacksonville would be their final home opponent at the end of the regular season.
But, now they all have to live with the Jaguars putting on a 17-point rally in the second half to overcome a 16-3 deficit.
No, Sunday wasn’t supposed to end with Oakland’s $100 million quarterback Derek Carr being booed and screamed at, as he tried to say “thank you” to the fans, while leaving the field.
Then again, final games at historic stadiums don’t always go as planned for the home team.
The record shows that in 2007 the Virginia Cavaliers annihilated the Miami Hurricanes 48 – 0 at the famed Orange Bowl in the final Canes home game played there.
And, of course even more famously is the indelible image in January of 2003 of Buccaneers defensive back Ronde Barber racing 90+ yards with an interception return to seal the Bucs first ever NFC Championship Game win. That gave the Bucs a trip to Super Bowl 37, and permanently closed down Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.
Then, there was Sunday. So much nostalgia flowing through the old Oakland Coliseum.
And yet, a rookie 6th round pick out of Washington State stole the show and the Raiders planned “curtain call” in the twilight Sunday night.
Minshew has now won five games as a starter his rookie season, and he may go on to even more successes later in his career. And, dare we even suggest a playoff win in his future?
Still, as all-time career moments go, there’s only one QB who can claim beating the Oakland Raiders on a last-second drive in the final game ever in their stadium.
Something that will be talked about for decades.
And, Gardner Minshew and the Jags made it happen Sunday.
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?