Jaguars Lose 34-16 to Lions As Gardner Minshew Fails to Rise to the Occasion

John Shipley

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Entering 2020, the Jaguars' greatest hope to be competitive was the play of quarterback Gardner Minshew. 

That hope largely went out with a whimper on Sunday, however, with Minshew and the Jaguars offense laying a dud in a 34-16 home loss to the Detroit Lions. 

The Jaguars (1-5) have now lost five straight since upsetting the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1, and Minshew looks to be regressing along with the entire offense in the process. 

Minshew finished Sunday's game 25-of-44 (56.8%) for 243 yards (5.5 yards per attempt), along with one touchdown pass, one touchdown rush, an interception and a fumble. But those numbers are partially inflated by some garbage time stats, with the touchdown pass being a 14-yard swing pass to James Robinson with 5:24 left in the game. 

Even from the first drive of the game, the Jaguars' offense looked like it just wasn't prepared to play. The Jaguars tried to take advantage of Detroit's 32nd ranked run defense but two runs went nowhere before Minshew was unable to convert on third down. 

This middling first possession would sum up Jacksonville's day on offense, even though the Jaguars were facing a defense that was allowing 6.2 yards per play entering the contest. 

“Yeah, it’s frustrating. There’s not a guy on this team that likes losing or even wants to tolerate losing. We’re definitely frustrated. It feels like the same story each week," Minshew said after the game.

"We are trying to figure out what our solution is, we got to start finding it and the urgency should be at an all-time high. That being said, I believe we have the guys in our building to do it so we’re just going to have to come back together, I know you all are sick of hearing it, but come back together, have a good week at practice, and just get ready to win one game at a time.”

A big part of the struggles on Sunday was due to Minshew failing to step up and make plays for the Jaguars in moments they needed him to. He threw a woefully bad interception on the Jaguars' first offensive play of the second quarter, a wounded duck intended for a wide-open DJ Chark downfield. Had the ball been pushed downfield, Chark would have walked into the end zone for a touchdown.

That wasn't the only crippling mistake Minshew would make on the day, however. With the Jaguars having the ball at Detroit's 45-yard line with 0:27 left in the first half, Minshew was strip-sacked by Trey Flowers, losing possession of the ball for the offense. He has now lost three fumbles, along with five interceptions, with all eight turnovers coming during the five-game losing streak.

Overall, the Jaguars gained just 275 yards on 61 plays, a poor 4.5 yards per play total. Throw in a turnover on downs in the red zone in the second half when Minshew threw it behind the receiver on fourth down, and it was an ugly day for an offense that continues to struggle. 

Despite the Jaguars facing the NFL's worst rush defense, the Jaguars running game contributed nothing to the contest. James Robinson was bottled up for the second consecutive week, gaining just 29 yards on 12 carries. As a whole, the Jaguars rushed 16 times for 44 yards (2.8 yards per carry) with a long of 9. It was the first game this season the Lions allowed fewer than 109 yards rushing.

The only real standout on offense for the Jaguars was fourth-year receiver Keelan Cole, who caught six passes for 143 yards. He was the only non-quarterback offensive player to record more than 45 yards for the Jaguars on Sunday.

"We can't go three-and-out first drive. We can't go three-and-out. We have to get open as receivers. We have to find the open guys," DJ Chark said after the game.

"And we can't play from behind. We have to put up points. You can't get in the red zone and rely on three points." 

Of course, this loss isn't solely on Minshew and a stagnant offense. The defense deserves a fair share of blame, especially considering the Lions scored touchdowns on their first two drives and a score on three of their first four drives.

For the fifth game in a row, the Jaguars allowed 30 points. Sunday featured the Jaguars allowing a season-high 34 points, including 180 rushing hards. D'Andre Swift had a breakout performance against a Jaguars defense that was missing Abry Jones and Josh Allen up front, rushing 14 times for 116 yards and two touchdowns.

“You’ve got to be able to correct the mistakes in this league to be a winning team, and the reason we’re not winning is because some mistakes have happened over and over again," Jaguars linebacker Joe Schobert said after the game. 

"Speaking from a defensive perspective, I don’t know if it’s the same guys every week because we’ve got new guys playing at every level every week, it seems like, just with the situation that we’re in right now, and like I said earlier, next man up mentality. You’ve got to just come in and be able to do your job and be accountable to the guy next to you. That’s something we all have to work on and get better at.”

While the Lions didn't take advantage of every single opportunity the Jaguars defense gave them, Jacksonville still barely got the Lions off of the field. The Lions only punted twice, giving up the ball on an interception and missed field goal on their other two failed drives.

All in all, it was an easy day for the Lions offense. Swift got 54 of his yards on one run while Matthew Stafford completed 19-of-31 passes (61.3%) for 223 yards, while also converting several fourth-downs with his legs, while Swift and Peterson both scored on one-yard touchdown rushes in the first half.

Overall, the Jaguars allowed 405 yards, the fifth time this season they have allowed 400 yards. Add in Kenny Golladay catching four passes for 105 yards, and the Jaguars became the first team the Lions had a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver against in the same game since 2013. 

Earlier this week, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said he thought his team was close to getting over the hump and snapping the losing streak. Instead, the Jaguars look even further from becoming a winning team than they were last week.

A lot of Jaguars struggled today, but maybe none more so than Minshew. For a Jaguars team that is quickly running out of positives, this has become a worst-case scenario. 

The Jaguars are next set to travel to play the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 7. 

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Comments (6)
No. 1-3

What is the story with Ryquell Farmstead?
Not one single update on his status since early September


If this is your conclusion after that game, there's something wrong at Sports Illustrated as well. The 'blame the QB' strategy is defintely misplaced here. Sure Minshew is not perfect, but he's not to blame for all of this. He even shows he has the capacity to do well in a team that's actually competitive. What this team needs is a change in coaching staff. The HC and DC have had more than enough time to build something and it didn't work out so now it's time for some fresh ideas and motivation. It would also give a new coach enough time to figure out which positions to draft for next year and build around Minshew. Changing the QB at this point would end up with the same results in the current team with this coaching staff, no matter who you put there.

Older Fan
Older Fan

You were throwing darts today at the quarterback but let us look around a bit more. I am 69 years old and have seen many quarterbacks over the years have problems when their running game were stopped. These quarterbacks also had passes intercepted and also had fumbles. The quarterbacks that had days like Minshew did today were Bret Farve, Payteon Manning, Dak Prescot, Russel Wilson, Tom Brady and Ben Rothlisberger to name a few. I could also go back to Dave Kreig, Steve Young, Joe Montana and John Elway to name a few more. Joe Montana, Dave Kreig and Tom Brady were also not known for great arm strength but they were still quite successful as quarterbacks. Minshew is quite accurate in the right offensive scheme and could be successful as well.
The Jaguars seem to drop the running game after they begin to get behind every time. This makes their offense one dimensional and easy for the defense to start blitzing. This also allows the defenses to put more men to covering receivers which adds time for the quarterback to find open receivers hurry throws and get sacked. I don’t remember seeing any full back and tail back plays called or double tight end and fullback plays that would help the running back. This offensive line also did not open large holes for Robinson today nor were any of the afore mentioned running back assist plays called. John Elway used to leave the pocked and make throws on the run quite successfully. Minshew did this well last year as well. However, this year it seems that he has been told to stay in the pocket too much. Last he was one of the best quarterbacks at play action type of plays but this strength is constantly taken away from him now and I have to ask why. Most teams feared him last year because of his mobility. Something is wrong with the play calling.

I also saw that receivers were not coming back to the ball such as James O’Shaughnessy who stood like a statue and the pass was blocked. Keelan Cole has a perfect long pass thrown to him and when he turned around the pass was right at his stomach. That pass should have been caught.

There were no preseason games which hurt the young teams such as the Jaguars. This offense, with the right mix of plays, is capable of scoring between 20 and 30 points a game. This won’t win many games in our pass happy age right now but it would give our offense time to gel and players learn how to play together. Our defense is playing hard but has some glaring weaknesses that could be helped in the 2021 draft. A high draft offensive tackle, an offensive tight end, another defensive tight end and defensive tackle would help the defensive line backers and secondary by reducing the time that receivers need to be covered.

For the life of me I still do not understand how and why Calais Campbell was traded away. He would have been a great hall of fame candidate in the future with his best years having been as a Jaguar. His leadership has been sorely missed in the locker room and on the field. I truly think that this trade was the worst Jaguars trade of 2020.

The ownership must also take the pressure to win at all costs off of the table so that the team can get better each week. Drafting a new quarterback as often as the Jaguars have done did not help because they never developed the team around them. Gardner Minshw is the best quarterback that this team has had in a generation. Build around him for the next few years. Let’s see how they do.

Game Day