DENVER, Colo. – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ 26-24 victory over the Denver Broncos in Week 4 of the 2019 regular season at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo., Sunday
1.This Minshew Mania thing is real, after all. How else to interpret what happened Sunday? Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II threw two second-half touchdown passes, and rallied the Jaguars from a 14-point second-quarter deficit in a come-from-behind victory. Minshew was far from the only storyline, and a ton of credit must go to a Jaguars running game that suddenly showed serious life after doing nothing of the kind the last two weeks. But two third-quarter touchdowns against a pass rush that was controlling the game in the first half? And a 60-yard drive in the final 1:32 for the first game-winning drive of his still-fledging career? That was big-time stuff. Look, we’re only three games into Minshew’s career has a starter. But he’s 2-1 in that role and he led the Jaguars from a double-digit deficit to a victory over a desperate team Sunday. Who knows what his future holds, but it’s starting to become reasonable to think it’s a lot brighter than anyone dared expect a month ago.
2.This game wasn’t all about Jalen Ramsey, but the Jaguars definitely missed the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Sunday. Ramsey, who missed practice because of an illness, a back injury and the birth of his daughter last week, was deactivated an hour and a half before kickoff because of the back injury. It marked the first time in 52 career regular-season games Ramsey had been inactive, and it undoubtedly will louden the noise around the fourth-year veteran – who requested a trade two weeks ago after the Jaguars’ Week 2 loss to Houston. The Jaguars’ defense struggled enough to pressure the Broncos in passing situations that it’s fair to wonder how much of a difference Ramsey would have made in the big picture Sunday. But while his replacement, Tre Herndon, made a big-time play to break up a deep pass in the first quarter, Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders beat Herndon for a 39-yard pass that set up the Broncos’ second touchdown and a 28-yard pass to Broncos wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton with Herndon in coverage set up a second-quarter field goal. Courtland Sutton beat Herndon on a late 27-yard reception on the Broncos’ final drive – and for a late touchdown that gave the Broncos the lead. Yes, the Jaguars missed Ramsey. Then again, how could they not?
3.The offensive line hurt the Jaguars again Sunday – and then it helped. Sort of. This must go down as one of the stranger Jaguars performances in recent memory – and one of the hardest to evaluate. The Jaguars’ offensive line struggled mightily in the first half – particularly in pass protection – and the struggles in a real sense continued throughout. The Broncos finished with five sacks after not recording one in the first three games. The offensive line’s penalty issues also continued Sunday – and those issues could have cost the Jaguars the game. At the same time, running back Leonard Fournette rushed for a career-high 225 yards and a lot of those yards were through sizable holes in the Broncos’ defensive line. The effort came a week after the line struggled to run and allowed no sacks in a victory over Tennessee. An uneven performance? Perhaps, but it’s hard to completely criticize a game Sunday in which the Jaguars rushed for the second-most rushing yards in franchise history.
1.The Jaguars offensive line didn’t appear to have its’ best day in Denver. The Broncos’ pass rush was intense, sacking Minshew five times and attacking relentlessly. It also created seven of the Jaguars 12 penalties on Sunday afternoon, more than half on the offensive line. But when you run for 269 yards and win the game all is forgiven. They were a force on back to back drives in the third quarter and on the game winning drive they pushed the pile and protected the quarterback. There is a lot that needs to be cleaned up, but that group had a look on their faces when they left the locker room at the half and when they took the field with 1:32 left to play. They’re going to hear about it in the media and in the meeting room this week but it’s much easier to deal with after a win.
2.Leonard Fournette wanted to dominate. You could see it in the way he ran. He never stopped moving his feet and ran angry. They’ll win a lot of games if he can stay healthy and force his will on the line of scrimmage. It was remarkable to see him digging out an extra yard or two at the end of every tough run.
3.Minshew Mania is now Minshew Magic. The bench was electrified after the first touchdown drive in the third quarter and absolutely apoplectic after his second touchdown pass to give them the lead. The line to congratulate him was 52 players deep. He took two big hits on the final drive but wouldn’t leave the field and in the end couldn’t be stopped. What a story from the ashes of Nick Foles’ injury.