Sexton-Oehser quick thoughts: Eagles 24, Jaguars 10

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JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ 2019 preseason home opener Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles at TIAA Bank Field …

Oehser…

1.Any analysis regarding the Jaguars Thursday must start with rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew. With the Jaguars holding out starters and front-line players in the first two preseason games, Minshew’s effort to solidify himself as Nick Foles’ backup is the clear No. 1 story thus far in the 2019 preseason – and the Round 6 selection in the 2019 NFL Draft took steps Thursday toward that end. Minshew, after passing for 46 yards in a half in Baltimore last Thursday, was considerably better against the Eagles when he completed 15 of 22 passes for 167 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in the first half. He finished 19-of-29 passing for 202 yards. Minshew had followed his performance against Baltimore with a good practice week in which he seemed to make quicker decisions. He wasn’t spectacular Thursday. Still, responding to a difficult debut with a poised, consistent performance has to make the Jaguars’ decision-makers more confident entering the season with Minshew as Foles’ backup.

2.Make no mistake: gleaning anything from a big-picture standpoint from this Jaguars preseason is next-to-impossible considering Head Coach Doug Marrone’s approach to playing time. Marrone held 27 players out Thursday after holding 30 out in the preseason opener; the lack of starters and front-line players made the atmosphere at Thursday’s preseason home opener a bit lethargic – and perhaps the only overarching takeaways for the Jaguars concerned depth and discipline, areas that concerned Marrone following a one-sided loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the preseason opener. The Jaguars’ backups and reserves turned in a better performance against the Eagles than they did a week ago, scoring 10 points and keeping the game competitive into the fourth quarter. As for the discipline, the Jaguars committed 12 penalties for 119 yards Thursday after committing 10 for 109 yards in Baltimore. Marrone had vowed last week that the Jaguars wouldn’t be a dumb team this season when it came to penalties. For a night at least, it appeared there is still progress to be made on this front.

3.We’ll use this final “quick thought” to cover a few thoughts. One: defensive tackle Taven Bryan had an up-and-down first quarter, getting blocked backwards on a 12-yard run on the Eagles’ first play from scrimmage, then forcing a two-yard loss with good penetration on the ensuing series; Bryan has flashed at times in the preseason, but he must be more consistent. Another thought: wide receiver Tre McBride continues push for the roster by not only consistently connecting with Minshew in practice and games but by continuing to show versatility on offense and special teams; he caught four passes for 47 yards Thursday. Other Jaguars payers flashing at times Thursday: cornerback Breon Borders (two pass breakups), defensive end Dawuane Smoot (first-half sack), veteran defensive tackle Datone Jones (huge early hit on Eagles quarterback Cody Kessler) and cornerback Tae Hayes (early pass breakup).

Sexton...

1.Now I see what Tom Coughlin, Dave Caldwell and Doug Marrone like about Gardner Minshew. Marrone told me this week he really like Gardner’s week of practice and hoped he could carry it over to the game against the Eagle. He showed great poise hanging in the pocket and solid athletic ability on the run and tonight made a couple of NFL throws that I was uncertain of his ability to connect on last week. The thing I liked the most was his patience in the pocket, he’s comfortable back there which is big for the back-up quarterback…which is his job as of tonight.

2.I didn’t see any push up front tonight and I’m sure Doug Marrone didn’t either. The Jags went into this game wanting to find their best option at right guard and I couldn’t tell if AJ Cann or Will Richardson or Brandon Thomas or Tyler Shatley made a move on the spot. Obviously, it will be more effective when Brandon Linder and Andrew Norwell are active and on the field…but for a team that wants to run the ball with power you’ve got to have more than three interior offensive linemen. Marrone needs three of the four to step up and time is getting short for them to prove it.

3.We need to see the starters. After tonight I am convinced they need at least a quarter next week. We’ll see what the head coach thinks this weekend when he gets his team back on the practice field.

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