Nick Foles is almost ready to play. Gardner Minshew has captured the imagination of the fans and, to some extent, his teammates. Jacksonville is in the middle of a playoff race.
Your move Doug Marrone.
Jacksonville climbed to 3-4 by grinding out a rather ugly 27-17 win over 0-7 Cincinnati. The Bengals defense was valiant, keeping Minshew under control even as the Jaguars ran for 216 yards. The Bengals offense was vile, turning the ball over four times, including a clinching interception when Giovanni Bernard ran into one of his own blockers on a screen.
Jacksonville took full advantage by not making mistakes. Minshew was smart in the process. He made no high-risk throws, often scrambling rather than trying to force a throw as he had in previous games. He showed a deft understanding that Jacksonville could win this game simply by waiting for the Bengals to screw it up.
In that way, Minshew is wise beyond his years. At the same time, he is still rough around the edges.
He completed only 15 of 32 throws despite another strong game by running back Leonard Fournette, who deserves much more credit than he has received. In some respects, this game should have been over earlier than it was, but Jacksonville prolonged Cincinnati’s anguish the way a bad matador prolongs the death of a bull.
At 3-4, Jacksonville has a game next Sunday against the New York Jets before starting a run of three critical division games against 4-3 Houston, 4-2 Indianapolis and 3-4 Tennessee. In short, Minshew has gotten the Jaguars to a point where they are still in the fight.
But, is he good enough to guide this team beyond just an interesting battle for the AFC South crown?
That’s the real question Marrone has to consider as he plots out the rest of this season. It’s a season with a lot more possibility than most Jaguars could have predicted, especially if you had told them before the season that Foles would get hurt in the opener and Jalen Ramsey would be gone before midseason.
The fact is that Jacksonville is a lot closer to the team that nearly upset New England two years ago in the playoffs than to some meandering team trying to figure out where it belongs. Two of its losses were by less than a touchdown even with Minshew running the show.
If you look really hard, there are the ingredients of a contender between the rugged running of Fournette and the pass rush that comes primarily from the front four. Sure, losing Ramsey is a blow, but the players had already dealt with that situation weeks ago when Ramsey didn’t show for practices and feigned injury.
Players smell quitters faster than the general public and Ramsey, for all his obvious greatness, quit on his Jaguars teammates.
And while plenty of people may be ready to concede the AFC title to New England again, the Patriots are not so overwhelmingly dominant that they can’t be had. New England has built a 6-0 record by going through a parade of misfit teams so far this season. The only game against a halfway decent quarterback was the opener against Ben Roethlisberger and an ill-prepared Pittsburgh squad.
That’s why the coming decision on Foles is so critical for Marrone. Jacksonville could win this division. If it can get hot at the right time, it could duplicate the success of 2017, when it nearly toppled the Patriots in the playoffs.
While Minshew is interesting and has the making of something really cool at quarterback, Marrone needs to go with Foles if he has any hope of making some serious out of this opportunity.
Concern continues for former Jaguars DB Donovin Darius
Former Jaguars first-round pick and star defensive back of the late 90s- early 2000s, Donovan Darius, remains under a mental health watch after being arrested for DUI in North Florida Sunday and, further, concerns that he was suicidal.
ESPN Jaguars reporter Mike Dirocco had more details on the Sunday arrest and later hospitalization of Darius who was a first-round pick of the Jaguars in the 1998:
Former Jacksonville Jaguars safety Donovin Darius ingested numerous pills after being arrested and charged for driving under the influence on Sunday afternoon, per a law enforcement source. Darius was taken to a Jacksonville hospital for a mental health… https://t.co/Sqc3rSzwy7
— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) January 27, 2020
According to a police Source, DiRocco reported that Darius had crashed his vehicle around 10 a.m. Sunday and told paramedics that he had ingested 20 – 30 pills trying to kill himself.
Police did find empty pill bottles in Darius’ car and could not follow through with a field sobriety test, as apparently Darius could not stand on his own and was incoherent. Darius was transported to a nearby hospital and is currently being held on Florida’s 72-hour “Baker Act,” which allows authorities out of concern for a person’s well-being or that he’s a danger to others, to hold and evaluate them.
Darius was also charged with misdemeanor DUI, although he didn’t appear in the Duval County Jail.
Darius started 117 games in his nine-year Jaguar career. His biggest season was 2004, where he had 89 tackles recorded five interceptions and recovered four fumbles. Dariuss played in four playoff games all coming in his first two seasons. That included an interception against the New York Jets in Jacksonville’s AFC Divisional round playoff loss 34 – 24.
Darius’ last season with Jacksonville was 2006, where he played in 10 games. Darius played in three games in the 2007 season for the Dolphins before being released and retired after that.
The 44 year old Darius has remained involved in the Jacksonville Community including being part of a sports camp for youth last November:
CALLING ALL BOYS AGES 9-18 | I’m challenging you in a race at my (FREE)30th D.A.R.E to DREAM SPORTS LIFE CAMP that will take place at on Sat. November 16th – 10am -2pm at University of North Florida. JOIN ME for… https://t.co/oqSY3JZMsn
— Donovin Darius (@DonovinDarius) October 31, 2019
Darius was recognized on the field at halftime of the Gator Bowl game at TIAA Bank Field (photo above) back on January 2nd between Tennessee and Indiana.
Duval County records do not yet have a court date yet for Darius, and it will be up to mental health officials to evaluate whether he can safely be released later this week.
Jaguars rookie DE Josh Allen on display in Pro Bowl
This afternoon in Orlando Jacksonville Jaguars rookie first-round pick Josh Allen will get to show NFL fans why he’s one of the best kept secrets on the defensive side of the ball in the league.
Allen will be participating, as a reserve for the AFC Squad in the annual Pro Bowl All-Star Game.
This, as he was a replacement for Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Frank Clark, because the Chiefs will be participating in Super Bowl 54 this week. The rookie 7th overall pick out of Kentucky has had a deserving season with 10.5 sacks, which was the most among rookies in the AFC in 2019 and is also a Jaguars single-season rookie record.
Allen also had 22 QB hits and another 11 tackles for loss even during a trying Jacksonville season.
Further, Allen was drafted a year ago by the Jaguars front office of Tom Coughlin and GM Dave Caldwell to be a potential replacement at defensive end for a couple of Jaguars, who may not be around much longer. One of those is their top pass-rusher of the last three seasons Yannick Ngakoue, who is slated to be an unrestricted free agent coming up in March.
Of course Jacksonville could still find a way to re-sign Ngakoue, or even place the “Franchise Tag” on him, if they so desired. That would be a somewhere around an $18-19 million for 2020.
Then, you have fellow veteran pro bowler Calais Campbell who has earned the Pro Bowl honor for the third consecutive year and is arguably the Jaguars best free agent acquisition in team history. Campbell made this year’s AFC Pro Bowl Squad with 6.5 sacks and has the longest current streak of 11 seasons with at least five of them.
However, he is slated to make $14.5 million this season and at his advanced age (he’ll be 34 this fall) may not be worth that salary to Caldwell and the organization.
Jacksonville could elect to restructure Campbell’s contract especially because he is a liter not only are the defense but in their locker room back to Alan he’s certainly has tremendous potential but if the combo oven gokwe and or Campbell aren’t there it would make much more difficulty for him to have a success that he had in 2019.
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