HOUSTON, Tex. – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars’ 13-12 loss to the Houston Texans in Week 2 of the 2019 regular season at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday
1.A glimmer of hope. This was impressive stuff. No, we’re not talking about rookie quarterback Gardner Minsew II’s entire performance Sunday. There were times Sunday when the rookie looked like a rookie – a few fumbles and a few times holding the ball too long. But that was to be expected from a rookie making his first NFL start – and doing so on the road. Here’s what was impressive about the sixth-round selection’s performance Sunday: when it mattered most, he played his best. When the Jaguars needed a clutch performance on the offense’s final drive, he delivered. He drove the Jaguars 68 yards for what could have been a game-winning or game-tying touchdown. The drive didn’t win the game because running back Leonard Fournette’s two-point conversion run was ruled short by officials, but Minshew’s four-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DJ Chark put the Jaguars in position. Who knows what the coming weeks will bring. Who knows his long-term future. But Minshew on Sunday provided more hope that perhaps he has a bright future, and that the Jaguars still could squeeze something from what so far has been a frustrating season.
2.Credit where it’s due. A Jaguars defense that hardly could have played worse in Week 1 turned in a much better effort Sunday – and very much gave the Jaguars a chance. The defense held the Texans to 166 first-half yards and six points, and the pass rush took advantage of a struggling Texans offensive line to register its first four sacks of the season. The Texans’ lone touchdown came on an 11-yard fourth-quarter drive set up when Minshew lost a fumble and defensive end J.J. Watt recovered. Credit here also should go to Jaguars punter Logan Cooke, who pinned the Texans inside the 20 four times in the first three quarters. This was the Jaguars’ defense many expected and that didn’t show up against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1. The Texans’ offense is a far better unit than it showed Sunday; this performance Sunday ranks among the Jaguars’ better defensive performances of the past three seasons. If it plays like this the rest of the season, this team will have a chance.
3.Another week, another out-of-control moment. After spending the week talking about the need for self-control, the Jaguars had another emotion-based incident early in Sunday’s game. This one came when Head Coach Doug Marrone and cornerback Jalen Ramsey had words following the Texans’ first-quarter field-goal drive. Ramsey during the drive appeared to be upset with the sidelines for not challenging a first-down-converting reception by Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Ramsey shrugged Marrone away as he came to the sideline after the series, and Marrone approached Ramsey shortly thereafter. Safety Ronnie Harrison shielded Marrone from Ramsey and the incident ended. This came a week after linebacker Myles Jack was ejected for throwing a punch and Harrison was penalized for taunting in Week 1. No one was penalized for Sunday’s incident, but it still was a bad look for a team with a reputation for such incidents.
1.If the defense plays like that this season the Jaguars will be just fine. They attacked Watson up front and never let him get comfortable in the pocket AND Jalen Ramsey put on an All Pro level performance against DeAndre Hopkins. I wrote this week that Hopkins was the most difficult match-up in the game today, but Ramsey made him look average. He really wasn’t a factor at all and that’s the type of performance that earns Brinks truck level contracts. More on Ramsey in No. 3. Sure, they let Carlos Hyde run for 90 yards against them, and at inopportune times when they could have gotten off the field. Sure, Calais Campbell left a fumble on the field in Texans territory and Jalen Ramsey dropped a certain pick-six. But a week after Kansas City gashed them for nearly 500 yards and 40 points, they clamped down on an offense that put up more than 400 yards and 28 points in New Orleans on Monday night and it’s an offense that looked like it was capable of more. To do that in Houston when the team needed it badly is one thing but to do it without the services of starting defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and without the services of starting cornerback AJ Bouye is another entirely. The defense responded in a big way.
2.I loved the call to go for it at the end of the game and so did the players in the locker room afterwards. “It’s the type of team we want to be.” DJ Chark told me. “I loved the aggressiveness and I’ll take Leonard Fournette downhill for two yards any day,” offered Campbell. I didn’t like the Fournette call as much as Campbell. He carried the ball 15 times on Sunday for only 47 yards and he didn’t have much success between the tackles outside of a 14-yard run in the fourth quarter. I wouldn’t have taken the ball out of Gardner Minshew’s hands, it was the rookie quarterback who carried them down the field. I’m not a big play calling guy, a good play is one that works, and a bad play is one that doesn’t, it’s low hanging fruit for fans and media to attack the play. I just felt like he had the ‘mojo’ or ‘magic’ or whatever you want to call it…it was going. Doug Marrone told me in the pre-season that he is a guy who needs to know what to expect from a player before he trusts him. I would guess that last drive taught the coach enough to feel much more comfortable with Minshew from here on out.
3.Jalen Ramsey was an All Pro on the field on Sunday in Houston. He was All-Embarrassment to himself on the sidelines over Doug Marrone’s decision not to challenge DeAndre Hopkin’s 3-yard catch which he felt hit the ground. He argued with Marrone while Hopkins caught a 13-yard pass. He argued with Marrone as he walked back to the bench after the series was over and apparently that’s when Ramsey put his hands on the coach. How do I know? Because the coach followed him and expressed his extreme displeasure with the move. Chaos ensued, Gatorade buckets went flying and I thought the whole ship might sink right there. It didn’t which is a credit to both the Coach and Ramsey that they both calmed down and got their heads back into the game. But I couldn’t believe when he went back into the game on the next Texans’ series just like I couldn’t believe Myles Jack still had the captain’s C on his chest when he was ran out onto the field in the pre-game. It’s beyond time for this team to grow up. The word accountability rings hollow in my ears tonight….