JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 20-16 victory over the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., Sunday.
1.The Jaguars haven't quit. It was vogue in recent weeks to question the Jaguars' heart and desire. It was understandable, too – considering their five consecutive losses by 17 or more points. But the Jaguars had every chance and reason to quit Sunday – down 13 points in the second half, on the road, eliminated from the postseason – and they didn't. You can question the talent. You can question the coaching. You can question whatever. But the Jaguars haven't quit.
2.The Mania is real again … Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II's remarkably electric, remarkably inconsistent, remarkably exciting rookie season continued Sunday. He started the game struggling and finished the first half with 69 yards passing. He finished it with two touchdown passes to wide receiver Chris Conley in the final 5:15 and is now 5-5 as a starter. Go figure.
3. … and Minshew has a knack for the dramatic … Sunday marked the second time Minshew has rallied the Jaguars for a victory from a 10-point deficit. It marked his third fourth-quarter comeback in 10 starts. His ability to handle adversity is remarkable for a rookie.
4. … and we still don't know his future. Is Minshew the Jaguars' future at quarterback? We won't likely learn that this season and Sunday showed why. For all his excitement, there remains too much uncertainty around Minshew – a struggling offensive line, a depleted group of skill players, the questions over the future of the Jaguars' decision-makers – to know for sure if he will be the starter next season.
5.This team still has a lot of flaws. The Jaguars earned Sunday's victory. Many areas deserve praise. But the flaws of this team – struggling run defense, suspect secondary, thin receiving corps, depleted tight-end group – was evident throughout much of Sunday's game. The dramatic victory doesn't change that.
6. The Jaguars' still have issues at tight end … Tight end Seth DeValve's return after a four-game absence helped, and the veteran caught two passes for 23 yards. But those were the only receptions for the position Sunday, and its lack of productivity severely limits what the Jaguars can do in the passing game in the middle of the field.
7. … and offensive line. This group individually has strengths. But as a unit, it just isn't consistent enough in any area – particularly blocking for the run.
8.The Jaguars really miss wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. Minshew put together plenty of late-game magic, but Chark's absence because of an ankle injury was apparent early. Minshew had 69 yards passing on the Jaguars' first six drives Sunday, and the receivers struggled during that time to get separation.
9.Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo is still good … Your weekly reminder.
10. … and so is Logan Cooke. The Jaguars' punter punted five times Sunday for a 49.6-yard average with a 49.2-yard net and two inside the 20. That's a big-time day.
11.The Jaguars' defense can rush the passer. The Jaguars registered four sacks Sunday, a remarkable number considering they trailed by double digits much of the game. The Jaguars' defensive problems this season haven't been about rushing the passer; they have been about not playing run defense consistently enough to have the opportunity to rush the passer.
12.Yannick Ngakoue is a game-changing player … OK, so he's not great against the run. That's the knock on the fourth-year defensive end. But his pass-rushing ability counteracts the knock, and he had perhaps his most impactful game of the season Sunday: two sacks, four tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries, a pass defensed.
13. … and the Jaguars need to extend his contract. This has been a tricky issue and will remain so. It's not likely to get solved in the next few weeks because Owner Shad Khan has yet to announce how he will structure the franchise moving forward. Whatever the structure, the Jaguars need to find common ground with Ngakoue, find the right role and get him signed.
14. And Josh Allen is a game-changer, too. The rookie edge rusher registered his 10th sack of the season Sunday, becoming the seventh player in franchise history to do so. That he has done this with the Jaguars seldom playing with a lead and struggling against the run makes it more remarkable. Not much has gone right, but the Jaguars know they have a star pass rusher/edge defender. That's not nothing.
15.The Jaguars haven't quit. It's worth repeating. It doesn't make the season less disappointing, but it's still true.