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Jacksonville Jaguars

QB Blake Bortles continues to be Jaguars most unsung hero

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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The Jaguars had trouble running the ball again on Sunday. They did at least until they started handing it off to Corey Grant in the fourth quarter, which time the outcome had already been decided.

That’s because they had Blake Bortles at quarterback.

Few want to give Bortles credit for the good job he’s done efficiently managing an offense that has been without its best wideout all season and was once again without its best tailback on Sunday, but it’s time to start giving credit where credit is due.

Put quite simply, the Jaguars wouldn’t be headed to the playoffs were it not for Bortles.

No, his season stats are not eye-popping. Bortles ranks in the middle of the pack in just about every meaningful one there is. What is eye-popping is how well Bortles has played when the Jaguars have absolutely needed him to step up and play big.

Take Sunday, for example. With no Leonard Fournette and despite losing wideout Marqise Lee in the first quarter, Bortles put together one of the best games of his career, completing 21 of 29 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns.

It was his third 300-plus-yard passing game of the season. Two of those have come in games in which he didn’t have Fournette to hand the ball off to. The other came in one of the two games in which the Jaguars have failed to run for 100 yards.

We point that out because the Jaguars are a running team. That’s how they’re built, but when the running game gets shut down they need their quarterback to pick up the slack and Bortles is starting to prove rather consistently that he can do that.

Bortles compiled a career-best passer rating of 148.3 on Sunday. It was the third straight week in which he’s compiled a passer rating of 100 or better. That’s the sign of a quarterback who’s locked in, which is Bortles clearly is.

“He’s really become confident in his footwork and his rhythm,’’ Marrone said. “I mean, there were some plays today that they really covered well, where the (they took away) the first read and the second read and all of a sudden, he gets the ball out or he moves and he hits (Keelan) Cole.

“And then there are some plays that kind of get overlooked because he’s checking it down, but on those plays he’s going from this guy to this guy and to this guy. And you have to give a lot of credit to the guys up front because you have to protect him, but it’s a lot of credit to him. He’s playing well.’’

That he is.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Week two fantasy football tips for Dolphins and Jaguars

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

With week two of the NFL season starting tonight many are starting to lock-in on match-up’s for Fantasy Football this weekend. Last week the Bucs and Niners game didn’t live up to the over. The Jags lost Nick Foles, but still managed to put up points. As for the Dolphins, well, not much went well for them last week. Moving on:

This week the Bucs did some damage fantasy-wise Thursday night battle at Carolina. WR Chris Godwin continues to make those who spent an early round pick on him look smarter and smarter with an 8 catch, 121 yard, 1 TD reception day. He’s been Jameis Winston’s favorite/best target, so far, in 2018.

Tampa Bay also pounded the run with Peyton Barber with 23 tough carries for 82 yards and the other Buccaneers TD. There will be plenty of owners smiling who took Barber and in a lot of leagues, he may still be available.

Onto help for Sunday,

The Jaguars got some bad luck last week when Nick Floes threw his first touchdown as a member of the team and at the same time injured his shoulder for the next several weeks. When Gardner Minshew (above) came into the game though the Jags were still able to throw, he hit both Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley for touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

With a rookie under center look for the Jags to really get Lenard Fournette involved early. On Monday the Texans allowed 140 yards rushing to the Saints running backs. Conley also had the most targets on the team with 7. D.J. Chark lead the team in yards with 146 yards.

As for the Dolphins, they struggled last week. They now face the Patriots and again will face an uphill battle. In a game, they are expected to be trailing a lot that means a lot of passing. Preston Williams found the end zone. Davante Parker led the team in targets with seven but only came down with 3 for 75 yards.

With a lot of potential garbage time, one of the Fins receivers could put up some good numbers late in the game helping out your team.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jags rookie QB Gardner Minshew embracing start against Texans

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

“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.

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