JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – DECEMBER 29: Gardner Minshew II #15 of the Jacksonville Jaguars meets with … [+]
The Jaguars (6-10) were able to finish the 2019 season with a convincing 38-20 win over the Colts (7-9) at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL on Sunday. The future of this team has many questions surrounding it. Despite the questions, there are plenty of bright spots that the team will carry into the offseason. Wide receiver DJ Chark, who reached the 1,000 yards receiving mark against the Colts, acknowledged the significance of the win.
“For the next few weeks, months, we’re not going to have that bad taste in our mouth,” Chark said. “We understand the season didn’t go our way, but at least we didn’t have to leave with another loss.”
Here are five additional takeaways from the season finale.
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – DECEMBER 29: head coach Doug Marrone of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on … [+]
Jacksonville Players Support Marrone
Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone has been on the hot seat much of the season. The team was winless in the month of November and had only one-win heading into the season finale. Yet, Marrone was able to guide the team through quarterback controversies, player contract conflicts in addition to the recent dismal of Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin. The team finished with one more win than a year ago but the final victory may have saved Marrone’s job. After the game many players were vocal about their support for Marrone and their desire for him to stay in Jacksonville as the team’s head coach. Veteran defensive lineman and team captain Calais Campbell summed up what Marrone’s impact on the organization.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach Marrone. He kept us together through all the thick and thin, ups and downs this season and kept us focused,” Campbell noted. “Obviously, we didn’t play as good as we wanted to this whole season but being able to finish all that we have and stay together is really a testament to his coaching ability. I think we can win a Super Bowl with him as our head coach.”
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – DECEMBER 29: Josh Lambo #4 of the Jacksonville Jaguars concludes the first … [+]
Josh Lambo On The Money
Kicker Josh Lambo’s performance this season is a testament to his hard work and dedication with the Jaguars. He kicked three field goals (20 yards, 53 yards, 56 yards) against the Colts to set a franchise record of 33 for the most field goals made in a single season. He told reporters after the season finale that he appreciated Marrone’s confidence in him. Lambo’s ability to stay focused created a consistency that helped him put up impressive numbers in 2019. He converted 33 of 34 field goals (including four of four from 50+ yards) for a 97.1%. He was also the most accurate field goal kicker in the NFL this season among those with 15 or more attempts. Lambo certainly lived up to the expectations of the four-year $15.5 million contract extension (per Spotrac.com) he signed in February. The 29-year-old acknowledged he was very strategic in signing his new deal in the off-season so it wouldn’t become a distraction on the field. He was also open with reporters about his 2019 performance validating his contract extension.
“I’m glad I’ve been able to perform up to my contract, because that’s a big deal,” Lambo admitted. “When you get that big contract, you have a big old target on your back and hopefully that target’s a little smaller now.”
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – DECEMBER 29: Ryquell Armstead #23 of the Jacksonville Jaguars catches a pass … [+]
Minshew Mania Thrives In Jacksonville
Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew helped the Jaguars finish the season with optimism for next season. On Sunday he showed folks in Jacksonville that Minshew Mania is alive and well. He completed 27 of 29 passes for 295 yards and he threw three touchdowns and had one interception. He was 6-6 as the team’s starting quarterback. He was selected in the 6thRound (128thoverall) of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Washington State. Minshew signed a four-year $2.71 million rookie contract with the team in May according to Spotrac.com. His first season in the league is one he will cherish.
“It was awesome, it really was a dream come true. I’m so blessed that God has had his hand over me through a lot of trials and tribulations,” Minshew said. “Had to take a long way to get here but I’m so fortunate for that as it really prepared me for it. There’s a lot to be proud of, a lot we can work on, and a lot we can look forward to.”
Minshew was thrown into the starting role during Week 1 when veteran Nick Foles broke his left clavicle. Foles was Jacksonville’s top free agent acquisition last offseason. He signed a four-year $88 million deal according to Spotrac.com. When Foles returned he was unable to lead the team to a win so Minshew returned to the starting role and finished the season leading all rookie quarterbacks with six wins.
“It’s good. You can’t help but compare yourself to those guys so it kind of gives you a chip on your shoulder,” Minshew admitted. “Anything I can do to help our team win and hopefully next year it’ll be to have more wins than any quarterback in the league. That’s what we’re working for here.”
Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen motions to fans during the first half of an NFL football … [+]
Rookie Josh Allen Shines On Defense
Defensive end Josh Allen was the Jaguars’ top pick (1stRound, 7thoverall) in the 2019 NFL Draft out of the University of Kentucky. The team signed him to a four-year $22.74 million deal that included a $14.56 million signing bonus, $22.74 guaranteed and an average salary of $5.69 million according to Spotrac.com. What should the Jaguars expect from Allen next season?
“A guy that can use more pass-rushing moves, that’d be more efficient,” Allen replied. “But you know, I don’t know, I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow. But I’m just going to keep working, get off of football for a long time and once I get back to football, I’m going to be focused and ready to train trying to be better for next year.”
Allen, who was forced out of Sunday’s game due to a shoulder injury, finished the year with 44 tackles and 10.5 sacks. He is a candidate for Rookie of the Year honors.
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, left, and defensive end Calais Campbell hit … [+]
Yannick Ngakoue Admits Uncertainty With His Future
Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue finished this season with 36 tackles, 8.0 sacks and one interception. He also played the final year of his four-year $3.48 million contract with the Jaguars per Spotrac.com.
“When I first got here, I was considered a third-down rusher. I was counted out. I was the 69th pick; I got passed up by all 32 teams three times,” Ngakoue told reporters after Sunday’s game. “I just tried to improve my run game while also trying to be a better leader for these guys.”
The 24-year-old out of the University of Maryland is uncertain about his future in Jacksonville. He was evasive when asked about his contract negotiations with the Jaguars.
“I have been here for four years and I’ve learned a lot,” Ngakoue said. “Business is business and I’m not sure what the future holds.”
Ngakoue’s teammates, including Minshew, were vocal in their desire to have him return.
“He’s been awesome. He’s always brought the juice every day at practice. How he plays out there is just how he practices every day,” Minshew noted. “He’s awesome and couldn’t ask more from a teammate. As a player, he’s one of the best in the game too so hopefully we can keep him around because he’s a super special dude and great player.”
The Jaguars will have many personnel decisions to make this offseason. Owner Shad Khan is expected to begin by deciding the fate of his head coach later this week.