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DeFilippo: "It's been a unique year…"

AP_19267672408952
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo talk prior to a game against the Tennessee Titans, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. Jacksonville won 20-7. (Logan Bowles via AP)

JACKSONVILLE – The season has been a tricky one.

To listen to John DeFilippo Thursday, "tricky" may be an understatement describing the situation the Jaguars' offense has faced this season.

"It's been a unique year," the first-year offensive coordinator said.

The Jaguars early this week changed starting quarterbacks, benching veteran Nick Foles for rookie Gardner Minshew II with four games remaining. It marked the third time this season the Jaguars have changed the position, beginning with an injury to Foles 11 plays into the regular-season opener.

"It's not ideal," DeFilippo said Thursday as the Jaguars (4-8) prepared to play the Los Angeles Chargers (4-8) at TIAA Bank Field Sunday at a 4:05 p.m. "I'm just going to be flat-out honest with you: it's not ideal. But that's the nature of the job.

"That's why you show up and you work every day and you grind and you stay together. You go into this thing together. It's a team thing. We're all feeling it and taking it one day at a time."

The Jaguars are ranked 15th in the NFL in total offense, 12th in passing and 15th in rushing. But they are 26th in the NFL scoring, averaging just under 12 points a game during the current four-game losing streak.

"It's part of the job," DeFilippo said. "It's part of the responsibility you accept when you take this job. You take the blame for when things go wrong and you get credit when things go well – and probably both are a little unwarranted, to be quite honest with you."

Minshew, a sixth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, will make his ninth start of the season Sunday. He went 4-4 as a starter replacing Foles, who was 0-4 as a starter. After recovering from a broken clavicle, Foles started the last three games before being replaced by Minshew at halftime of a 28-11 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Foles, signed as an unrestricted free agent from Philadelphia this past offseason, completed seven of 14 passes for 93 yards and no touchdowns with an interception and two lost fumbles on sacks in the first half Minshew completed 16 of 27 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown with an interception in the second half.

"Unfortunately, we had to make a change, first off," DeFilippo said. "But fortunately, if you had to make the change, at least you had eight games with the guy who was coming in. You know what he's good at and you know how he handles himself in the huddle with the team, and on the sidelines – and those things.

"You never want to make that change – ever, especially mid-game. But if you have to and you're in that situation at least you know what you're getting."

DeFilippo lauded Head Coach Doug Marrone for his decision to give Minshew extra repetitions in practice in recent weeks while backing up Foles. Minshew took reps with the starters in situations such as red zone and third down in recent weeks, breaking from the NFL norm of backup quarterbacks exclusively working with the second team.

"He honed in on his skills while he was No. 2," DeFilippo said of Minshew.

Minshew during his first stint as a starter was named Rookie of the Week six times and was named Rookie of the Month for September. He has passed for 14 touchdowns this season, but also has thrown five interceptions and lost seven of 12 fumbles.

DeFilippo was asked if Minshew was the definition of a high-risk, high-reward quarterback.

"I'd say that's fair," DeFilippo said. "He's going to try to fit the ball into tight windows. He is. He's going to take a chance every now and then. The thing I am pleased about is he's protecting himself better when he runs. I thought he was taking way too many shots early that were unneeded. You have to protect yourself. …"

DeFilippo broke away from a question during the availability, expressing regret over Foles being benched. DeFilippo worked with Foles as the quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia in 2017.

"Whenever you make a decision like that, it's not all one guy; it's not," DeFilippo said. "I needed to coach better. We needed to play better. We needed to protect him better. We win and lose as a team and we all needed to be better for Nick. I feel bad; we all feel bad for him.

"No one's giving up on Nick Foles as a quarterback. Every year is different. Every game is different. It's a tough situation on everyone."

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