JACKSONVILLE – Gardner Minshew put it succinctly and aptly.
“You can’t beat it – can’t beat it at all,” he said.
The Jaguars’ rookie quarterback was talking about the feeling of getting his first NFL victory, which he did in impressive fashion in a 20-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night at TIAA Bank Field.
“It was awesome to experience it with these guys,” Minshew said. “We’ve been battling our tails off getting closer and closer and to finally do it on our home field, it was a lot of fun.”
If Minshew Mania is to subside, it’s doubtful it will in the coming seven-to-10 days.
Minshew, whose mustache and personal style has endeared him to not only Jaguars fans but NFL fans overall, on Thursday followed an impressive performance in his first NFL start in Houston a week before with an equally impressive performance.
“It’s all good,” Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said. “I really think it’s good. Actually, it’s remarkable, to be honest with you.”
Said defensive end Calais Campbell: “What he did today was incredible.”
Minshew, a sixth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, completed 20 of 30 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns – a 22-yarder to wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. and a seven-yarder to tight end James O’Shaughnessy. Those scored gave the Jaguars a 14-0 lead they never relinquished.
“I’m not going to put any bad juice on my dude,” Chark said. “He comes in and he plays, everybody makes mistakes, but he’s coming in putting in the work. Everybody on this team is putting in the work and it’s showing. We have a lot of confidence in him. He is definitely holding it down, and a lot of people are surprised, but we weren’t because we know the type of character he has and the way he works.”
Minshew in three games this season has completed 65 of 88 passes for 692 yards and five touchdowns with one interception.
“I know the preparation I put in,” Minshew said. “I know the guys that I have around me and the coaches we have done everything they can to prepare me. I’ve never felt unprepared. Didn’t have much experience but I’m definitely prepared.”
Chark continues to emerge as one of the most encouraging stories of the early 2019 Jaguars season. A second-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, Chark played sparingly as a rookie on offense and made his biggest impact on special teams. Chark, after catching 14 passes for 174 yards as a rookie, has 15 receptions for 277 yards in three games and has caught one touchdown pass in each of the first three games. “I think it’s experience, and knowing what to expect from a mental standpoint,” Chark said. “Knowing defenses, knowing the offense, knowing how to prepare and how to take care of my body compared to last year, where I was just waking up, going to practice and going home. But now, it’s a method behind everything and I realize that. I think that’s been helping me out a lot.”
Marrone made clear following Thursday night’s game that improving the running game will be a priority. The Jaguars struggled in the area throughout the game, rushing for 88 yards on 29 carries with 69 yards coming on a late run by running back Leonard Fournette (15 carries, 66 yards). “Obviously we’re disappointed and we understand that we need to run the ball better,” Marrone said. “That’s everybody: tight ends, receivers, running backs, everyone is included in that.” While the offensive line struggled to make the running game go, they held the Titans without a sack.
Images from the Jaguars Thursday Night matchup with the Tennessee Titans.
Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey: “This defense has always been elite. The guys on this team are talented, and we put in work on the field. We see the defense worked hard today and got nine sacks in tonight’s game, so I say we stepped up to the plate when we needed too. I was excited out there with them and be able to get a good win.”
Marrone: “Obviously it was a good win. I told the players in the locker room it was the longest short week that we’ve had in the NFL. I give a lot of credit to the coaches. I give a lot of credit to the players. It’s tough to play on a short week. It was great to be at home. It was great to be in front of our fans. They really helped us tonight.
Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue on holding Titans running back Derrick Henry to 44 yards rushing in 17 carries: “We came with the wood today. He had to feel it.”
Ngakoue on the team’s nine sacks: “What you think? That’s all I want to know. Sacksonville’s back baby! It’s back!”