JACKSONVILLE – Five takeaways from HC Doug Marrone’s press conference a day after the Jaguars’ 40-26 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s 2019 regular-season opener at TIAA Bank Field
1.Marrone feels good about Gardner Minshew II. What was clear Sunday became clearer Monday. With starting quarterback Nick Foles sustaining a broken clavicle late in the first quarter Sunday, Minshew completed 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns with an interception in the final three quarters. Marrone praised Minshew afterward, saying he felt better about the 2019 sixth-round selection than he had coming out of preseason. Marrone’s thoughts on Minshew were stronger Monday. “Now it’s, ‘Can he keep playing at a high level?’” Marrone said. “You remember what I’ve said before: He’s one of the few guys I’ve been around who can go from the classroom and really take it right onto the field. The other day was an unbelievable indication of that. I don’t know how many people – especially rookies – can go out not having done anything during the week and play like that. That’s a credit to him. The players know that. The players obviously believed in him from practice, but when you go out there and perform like that people have a lot of faith in him – the players, and that’s the most important thing.”
2.Marrone’s belief in Foles remains strong. Foles underwent surgery Monday, after which he was placed on injured reserve. The earliest he can return under the NFL’s rules is Week 11 at Indianapolis. He will be eligible to practice the week of October 21. “I do expect him to come back,” Marrone said. “I know he wants to be heavily involved in the quarterback room and help with Gardner. He said that during the game yesterday. … I was on the field and the doctor came up to me and said, ‘Hey, Nick wants to come back out here so he can help the offense and help Gardner.’ That shows you what type of person he is. That’s how he was. He’ll get himself better and he’ll come back and he’ll have another opportunity that he wanted to set out to do.”
3.Marrone liked Fournette’s workload. Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette played 50 of 58 (86 percent) offensive plays Sunday. He rushed 13 times for 66 yards and caught four passes for 28 yards. “That was our whole goal,” Marrone said. “That’s what we talked about from OTAs (organized team activities) and from Day 1: ‘Let’s get this guy in here, let him be a three-down back and keep him on the field as much as we can and be a playmaker – and all of those things.’ That was our goal, to try to get that done.’’
4.Discipline and focus must come from the player. Marrone has spoken often during his tenure about discipline, and it was an issue again Monday after linebacker Myles Jack was ejected Sunday for throwing a punch during an end-zone altercation. Safety Ronnie Harrison also drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting in the third quarter. “A team that communicates, a team that cares about each other, they don’t do that,” Marrone said. “Those players understand that. They’ve voiced it. They’ve spoken about it. Now, it’s a matter of just being able to do it each week – and having people that will be able to help them. We can take them out of games. We can sit them. We can do all that stuff. At the end of the day, they have to learn that it’s going to hurt the team and that’s what they can’t do.”
5.Marrone’s comfort with Will Richardson Jr. is growing. Richardson, a second-year veteran, started at left tackle Sunday after not working there either in the NFL or in college at North Carolina State. A fourth-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, Richardson missed his rookie year with knee and shoulder injuries. His first NFL snaps came Sunday in his first NFL start, which he made in place of starting left tackle Cam Robinson. While Richardson committed one holding penalty, he held up well blocking Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark. “If I’ve got to play Will [at left tackle], I have no problem – with the way he played the other day,” Marrone said.