Well, Week 9 is almost here. The Jacksonville Jaguars are officially halfway through their 2019 season and in a few days, the second half of the season will have begun.
The last eight weeks have been some of the most eventful in team history: from prized free agent quarterback Nick Foles going down with a clavicle injury after only two possessions, to Jalen Ramsey, one of the franchise's marquee players, essentially forcing his way out of town via trade. There has been no shortage of storylines.
The abundance of storylines is likely to continue over the second half of the season, too. Foles will return from the team's reserve/injured list soon and head coach Doug Marrone will have to decide to start either him or rookie phenom Gardner Minshew as Jaguars compete for an AFC South division championship.
But while we wait for the second half to kick off, lets examine the offense and handout awards to those who have impressed at the halfway point of the season.
Offensive MVP - Gardner Minshew
This one was tougher than you may think - while sixth-round rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew has been a breath of fresh air for a resurgent Jaguars offense, it was hard to not give wide receiver DJ Chark this award. But Minshew's production since stepping in for Foles has been nothing short of spectacular. He has completed 61.9% of his passes and thrown for 1,976 yards with 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He has had rookie moments, but his playmaking ability earns him this award.
Top Skill Player: DJ Chark
As we mentioned before, Chark has been worthy of earning recognition as the best player on the Jaguars' offense this season. He has shown he can be dangerous as a vertical threat stretching the field, as a red-zone target Minshew can lean on and a player who can turn a short pass into a big gain. His 39 receptions for 660 yards and six touchdowns put him on track for a potential Pro Bowl season, and his value to the team can't be overstated.
Top Offensive Lineman: Brandon Linder
The Jaguars offensive line has been a bit maligned this season due to rough games vs. the Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans and others, but they have also helped pave the way for some big Leonard Fournette performances. Center Brandon Linder has been the most consistent performer along the line, something that has been said about him for the majority of his career. He has also been invaluable to the Jaguars as they transition to a rookie quarterback, aiding him with protection calls and helping him feel more comfortable at the line.
Top Offensive Rookie: Gardner Minshew/Jawaan Taylor
We talked earlier about the performance Minshew has had in his rookie season and that obviously earns him a place here, but the play of right tackle Jawaan Taylor should also be recognized. He is the youngest player on the entire roster but has still been able to slide into the starting lineup from day one and play every offensive snap this season. He has drawn some incredibly tough matchups as the season has gone on but he has had a clear progression almost each week, giving the Jaguars hope that they have their right tackle of the next decade.
Most Improved Offensive Player: Leonard Fournette
Leonard Fournette's development since 2018, both on and off of the field, has been a major reason Jacksonville is 4-4 despite losing their starting quarterback and the best player on their defense. He has grown to become a leader in the Jacksonville locker room, holding the team accountable but also holding them together. And then on the field, he has bounced back from a putrid 2018 and has shown improved agility, vision and instincts. He has 791 rushing yards and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry, putting him on track for a career year. Sure he only has one touchdown, but he has improved more than any other player on the offense, and potentially even the team.
Offensive Workhorse: Leonard Fournette
With Fournette's improvement, he has given Jacksonville the confidence to depend on him as the centerpiece of their offense. He has so far shaken off the injury prone status and has played a jaw-dropping 90% of the team's offensive snaps. Between rushes and receptions, he has touched the ball 198 times for 1,054 yards. He has simply been the workhorse that has driven what has been an explosive offense.
Top Offensive Coach: John DeFilippo
I was tempted to name wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell the winner here, but what first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has done with a rookie quarterback at the helm, despite designing his offense for Foles, has been terrific. He needs to improve his red-zone play calls and scheme, but so far he has been exactly what the Jaguars' coaching staff was needing.
Offensive Play of the Midseason: Minshew Magic in Denver
Was there any doubt?