Quick thoughts: Jaguars-Colts

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Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) is sacked by Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen (41) during an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Indianapolis. The Colts won 33-13. (Aaron Doster via AP)

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars as they prepare to play the Indianapolis Colts in the 2019 regular-season finale at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday …

Oehser …

1.I kinda, sorta agree with … Sexton? This is hard to admit, but senior correspondent Brian Sexton had a point early this week when he said he wanted to see Nick Foles start at quarterback Sunday. The Jaguars were right to go back to quarterback Gardner Minshew II a few weeks ago; the rookie had provided a spark earlier this season and gave the team the best chance to win considering the chaos around much of the rest of the team. But Minshew now has started 11 games. He started very well early in the season and has been less effective late. Whether defenses have solved how to defend him, or whether the offensive line and skill positions are just playing so poorly he can't be effective, Minshew for the most part has struggled in his last four starts. Would Foles struggle if given the opportunity Sunday? Perhaps, because this offensive line is making it difficult for any quarterback. But there is merit to playing Foles and giving him one final look before the offseason – as hard as that is to admit.

2.The Jaguars need more – and better – skill players on offense. Consider this one where the observers – i.e., many fans – were right. Remember? Last offseason? The Jaguars' decision-makers were confident in the wide receiver position. Through the early part of the season, DJ Chark Jr., Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole had the look of an improving young foursome. Though it's fair to note that Westbrook has been playing through a neck/shoulder injury that may be hampering his productivity, that group's productivity has dropped in the second half of the season – and there were too many instances this past Sunday in Atlanta when the receivers got no separation for Minshew. Factoring in the season-long lack of productivity at tight end, the Jaguars' receivers have struggled enough that it's difficult to accurately assess Minshew. The Jaguars must find at least one tight end – perhaps two – in the offseason. They may need to address wide receiver, too.

3.The lines must be fortified. We've spent much of the second half of the season seeking answers for just what has ailed the Jaguars in the last seven games. They have lost six of those games by double digits, so the answer is many things ail this team right now. Still, above all else the thought here remains this: this team must reach a point that it can stop opponents from running at will and reach a point that it can get into better down-and-distance situations offensively. They also must give the quarterback time to throw without every play feeling like it's a panic situation from the outset. That's exaggerating, but it has felt like that too often this season. The key to fixing both areas is getting stouter and more consistent on the two lines. Yes, the Jaguars need skill players. Yes, there are deficiencies elsewhere. But it is clear after the last two months that the lines must improve in a hurry.

Sexton…

1.If the Jaguars are going to keep Head Coach Doug Marrone, they need to give him an extension. This team isn't on the verge of 5-11 for the second consecutive season because Marrone isn't a good coach. It's on the verge of 5-11 because the roster isn't good enough. It isn't reasonable to expect that he'll lose a few veteran players, add a few rookies and do next fall what he couldn't this past season. The good news is there are some talented young players to build around, some prime draft capital to add more and they can create nearly $70 million in salary cap space with a few deft moves. The bad news is the building process won't be complete in 2020, so no matter who the coach is, you must commit to him for more than next season. This can't be another one-year mandate. Either give Marrone the contract and a vote of confidence going forward for at least three years or hire someone else and be prepared for his plan to take that long to execute.

2.If you don't get the quarterback right, then nothing else matters. The Jaguars drafted Byron Leftwich in 2003, then passed on Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers in 2004 and 2005. They drafted Blake Bortles in 2014 and passed on DeShaun Watson AND Patrick Mahomes in 2017 – and Lamar Jackson in 2018. The Jaguars have mismanaged the most important position on the field and it's killing them. That must change. Foles might rebound, and Minshew might develop. But if there's a Watson or Mahomes on the board when the Jaguars come up on the clock, they cannot pass on him. There is plenty of time to find out if Tua Tagovailoa is healthy and to do a deep dive on Justin Herbert, Jake Fromm or Jacob Eason to see if any of them are franchise guys. If they are, the Jaguars shouldn't waste any of their ten minutes on draft night to pull the trigger.

3.You have every right to be unhappy and threaten to discontinue your support. That's what happens when you're losing, and everyone in this building understands the frustration. They're frustrated too. But they can't turn off the television. They must endure it. What I would ask this holiday season is that people retain their humanity and avoid the vicious personal attacks on coaches and players I keep reading and hearing. If you think you're unhappy that your source of entertainment in the fall isn't as entertaining, think about the men and women who feed their families and build their lives around this game. Then stop and think before you unleash a stream of unfiltered anger out into the world.

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