JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts onthe Jaguars' 40-26 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2019 regular-season opener at TIAA Bank Field Sunday
1. Uh-oh. There was no other feeling for a Jaguars observer in the first quarter Sunday. The euphoria of quarterback Nick Foles' perfect 35-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver D.J. Chark ended immediately when Foles staggered from the field after Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones landed full on him. Foles will undergo surgery on a broken left clavicle Monday. The Jaguars' offense and backup quarterback Gardner Minshew deserve credit for poised in a difficult situation. That unit for two and a half quarters kept the Jaguars in a game in which the Chiefs' offense shredded through what was supposed to be an elite Jaguars defense. Minshew finished 22-of-25 passing for 275 yards and a touchdown, providing hope he and the offense can function without Foles. Still, the reality is the player around whom you built your offense is likely out at least a month. So much for preseason storylines. This season just hit the most major obstacle imaginable.
2. This was a troubling effort defensively. While Foles' injury and Minshew's performance will dominate headlines, the Jaguars' defense let this team down in a big way Sunday – and was the major reason the Jaguars started 0-1. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey after the game said this one was on the defense, and he was right. Yes, the Chiefs' offense is perhaps the league's best – and yes, quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the reigning Most Valuable Player. But the Jaguars' defense had as many playmakers on the field as the Chiefs' offense, and that defense allowed points on Kansas City's first seven possessions – and let receivers run inexcusably open. Defensive coordinator Todd Wash spoke early in the week about Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid's ability to beat teams with schemes, particularly early in games. Reid showed that ability in a big way and the defense had no answers. If the Jaguars were to win Sunday, the defense needed big plays, turnovers and sacks. Instead, the unit allowed Kansas City to completely control the tempo from the beginning. That was disappointing and surprising. And disturbing.
3. Discipline and penalties remain a problem for the Jaguars. Maybe it was the heat, or the frustration of the Chiefs' fast start. Whatever the reason, the Jaguars showed the same troubling tendencies in the regular-season opener as have haunted them in the past – a lack of discipline and an inability to avoid avoidable mistakes. The Jaguars finished with 10 penalties for 71 yards – including three offensive holding penalties in the first half. Linebacker Myles Jack also got ejected in the second quarter for his involvement in a fight in the end zone on a Kansas City drive. Jaguars cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye also got involved in the altercation, and safety Ronnie Harrison drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in the third quarter that led to the Chiefs' third touchdown – a one-yard run by running back Damien Williams that extended Kansas City's lead to 30-13. Those things have long since grown tiresome, and continue to hurt the Jaguars in key situations.
1. Worst case scenario. A friend asked me what the Jaguars were thinking going with rookie Gardner Minshew as their back-up quarterback. My response was that if Nick Foles was lost for any significant time the Jaguars season was in jeopardy anyway so what difference does it make if they ride with Minshew. Uh oh…11 snaps…2 offensive series and the season is already in jeopardy. Credit Minshew for a gutty effort and watching the kid develop will be interesting but losing your $88 million quarterback in the first quarter of the season opener qualifies as a full-fledged disaster. The coach won't say that, and the players won't say that and Foles won't say that but you and I both know they can't say it. There are 15 games to play.
2. Not a day for defense. These are the same Chiefs the Jaguars encountered last October. Explosive, expertly coached with the best quarterback in the game today. The Chiefs scored on their first seven possessions and Patrick Mahomes threw a 40+ yard completion on the first five of those drives. The Jaguars got little pressure, created zero turnovers and were either out-played, out-schemed or both. This unit is way too good to give up 500 yards of offense and 40 points. I'll be keenly interested in how this unit responds next week in Houston.
3. More DJ and more than DJ. Love to see DJ Chark come up with big plays with the game still in doubt. He finished with his first 100-yard game and first touchdown and probably should have had at least one more and maybe two more. Good. It's something Minshew can count on. Now, who else can contribute? We need to see the ball in DeDe Westbrook's hands, and we know how well he played late last season when he was the only offensive player who could be counted on. Same with Marqise Lee who we knew was going to take some time, maybe he can jump into the offense to a larger degree in the coming weeks. Leonard Fournette's third quarter fumble opened the flood gates, but it was good to seem them try to get him involved. Get him the ball more often. Hopefully we'll see tight end Josh Oliver in the near future because they got no meaningful production from that position. Lastly, they can't have an offensive line where four members of the starting unit were hit with holding penalties and three of those were on running plays. In the words of Fred Taylor who watched the game with me….'that's just inexcusable on a running play.'