The Google definition of “mania” is a mental illness marked by periods of great excitement or euphoria, delusions and overactivity.
I may be the only person alive that finds it ironic how journalists are grabbing onto alliteration to describe what’s happening in Duval County as “Minshew Mania,” but at least it isn’t another -gate.
This week the Broncos have a chance to provide the cure to whatever ail Jaguars fans. The rookie sensation has been electric so far this season, but as I pointed out in GIF Horse yesterday there should be an opportunity for the defense to make a statement. They’ll have to if the Broncos first year head coach wants to avoid tying the Denver’s worst ever start to a season.
It won’t be an easy match-up, so to get an idea of what the Broncos are up against I spoke with Ryan O’Bleness of Big Cat Country to get the view from the opposing sideline.
Our conversation has been lightly edited.
1st and 10
The Minshew experience since Nick Foles went down in the season opener has been fun to watch. What do you think of the rookie so far? Should Foles be worried about his starting job in the long term?
O’Bleness: I have been impressed by Gardner Minshew II thus far. Not only has he been able to weather the storm for the Jaguars without Foles available, but he’s also made throws we haven’t see from a Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback in several years. He has already set several NFL early-career records. Minshew is also extremely accurate, currently completing 73.9 percent of his passes, which is only behind Dak Prescott. That’s certainly not because he is simply checking the ball down, as he has been able to drive the ball downfield when needed.
Of course, he is smart with the football, supremely confident and his personality makes him easy to root for. He’s been an underdog just about everywhere he has been, yet he’s found success at each stop. Of course it’s still too early to tell what exactly the Jags are going to get out of Minshew on a long-term basis, but the future surely looks bright for the young signal-caller.
As far as Foles goes, my instincts tell me it’s still his job once he’s healthy enough to return in November. You simply don’t sign a player to an $88 million deal, with $50-plus million in guarantees, to sit him on the bench. However, if Minshew continues to play at a high level, and the Jaguars are winning games with him under center, then there is most definitely going to be a heated debate among fans. It will be interesting to see how it shakes out, but if that ends up being the case, then the situation will be a good one for the Jags either way.
Did you know: @Jaguars rookie @GardnerMinshew5’s 73.9 completion percentage (65 of 88) & 110.6 passer rating (5 TDs & 1 INT) are the highest EVER by a QB through their first three career games in the Super Bowl era (min. 30 pass attempts)?!?@NFLResearch— Tad Dickman (@TDickman89) September 20, 2019
2nd and 7
From the outside, it sure looks like Jalen Ramsey is determined to find his way out of Jacksonville. Could you tell us more about that? He’ll play on Sunday, right?
O’Bleness: Oh boy. Here we go. I want to preface this by saying that I certainly hope he remains a Jaguar. It’s an interesting situation, which seems to be turning into a bit of a power struggle.
Ramsey most definitely wants out of Jacksonville, but it’s not because he’s upset with the coaches, the scheme or his teammates. And it’s not because he wants a bigger contract right this instant or doesn’t like the city, either. Rather, his problem is with front office personnel, and namely, executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin.
Ramsey clarified that some ”disrespectful things” were said to him that made him want to request the trade. Ramsey also said that he “just wants to win,” which makes sense because he is an ultra-competitor. The Jaguars did just that on Thursday night, but it still seems that Ramsey is looking to be traded.
He called in sick on Monday and missed practice, but was reportedly seeing team doctors. Seems like odd timing, but take from that what you will. Now he looks likely to miss the Broncos game because of the birth of his child.
The #Jaguars say CB Jalen Ramsey will be away from the team because of the birth of his daughter. https://t.co/6DYfrrkBSM— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 25, 2019
The thing is, though, that Ramsey doesn’t have much leverage in this situation, and the Jaguars are not in a hurry to trade him, or may not want to trade him at all. The team is doing what it can to repair the relationship between Coughlin and Ramsey. Jaguars owner Shad Khan said he is willing to pay Ramsey a salary he deserves. Despite their small argument on the sideline in Week 2, which many speculated was a catalyst for the trade request (it was not), head coach Doug Marrone does not want to trade Ramsey. If the Jaguars were to trade Ramsey, it would take a king’s ransom with multiple first-round picks included, but all signs seem to point toward wanting to keep the star cornerback. A trade isn’t likely any time soon because Jacksonville holds the power.
Hard pass. https://t.co/cXEuXHs0WK— Ryan O'Bleness (@ryanobleness) September 21, 2019
3rd and 4
Even without Ramsey on one side, A.J. Bouye as well as talented pieces in the front seven, makes this a really scary defense. How could the Broncos find success against them?
O’Bleness: Watch the Week 1 tape and do whatever the Kansas City Chiefs did.
But in all seriousness, the Jacksonville defense has really bounced back from that and put in great efforts in back-to-back weeks. The Jaguars played a lot of zone coverage concepts against the Chiefs and were over-matched by the speed of Kansas City’s receivers (poor tackling didn’t help, either). The last two games, the Jags were really able to buckle down in coverage, but also found a pass rush again with 13 sacks. No offense Broncos Country, but I think it’s fair to say that Denver’s offense is nowhere near the level of the Chiefs’ offense.
With that said, if I were Rich Scangarello, I would design plays to get the ball out of Joe Flacco’s hands quickly to avoid that menacing pass rush. Things like screen passes, crossers and slants could be effective, especially in one-on-one coverage, but the Jags are also a pretty fast defense, so blocking would need to be set up to be successful on plays meant to gain yardage after the catch.
Preston Smith: 3 sacks— Zach Kruse (@zachkruse2) September 23, 2019
Za'Darius Smith: 2 sacks
Rashan Gary: 1 sack
All 6 sacks of poor Joe Flacco: pic.twitter.com/XOs0zowCNS
The Jags have also been susceptible to the run at times this season. While they were able to shut down Derrick Henry and the Titans last week, Jacksonville gave up at least 113 total rushing yards in each of the first two games and currently rank toward the middle of the pack in rush defense.
If Denver is able to get Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman going, not only will this help the Broncos control the ball and time of possession, it will also open up opportunities in the passing game to take shots downfield if Jacksonville is forced to put more players in the box, It’s important that Denver isn’t one-dimensional in this game or it could get ugly quickly.
Just here to tell you that Phillip Lindsay is still a ninja. Rare to be that quick and still have such controlled, disciplined footwork. pic.twitter.com/mkWkdRBnlX— J Moyer (@JMoyerFB) September 25, 2019
4th and 1
What matchups do you see as clearly in the Jaguars favor? What should Broncos Country be most concerned about?
O’Bleness: The trenches. I think Jacksonville’s pass rush is going to obliterate Denver’s offensive line. We’re talking about a unit that boasts the likes of Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Josh Allen, Marcell Dareus, Abry Jones and other that can seriously collapse a pocket.
As mentioned, the Jags have been on a hot streak in terms of sacks and the Broncos have given up 11 sacks in just three games, including six last week and at least two in every game. Good luck, Flacco. I see the Broncos struggling to move the ball on this defense in general. Likewise, I think the Jags may struggle to move on the ball on Denver’s defense. I know it has been a slow start for the Broncos, but I expect a low-scoring, defensive battle.
Who wins on Sunday?
This poll is closed
Broncos by a lot.
Broncos by a little.
Jaguars by a lot.
Jaguars by a little.