“I just wanted to get a spark,” Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said after the game regarding the decision to bench Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles in favor of rookie quarterback Garnder Minshew II.
Although a spark was found early, the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) still could not get it together, ultimately losing 11-28 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7) in what began as one of the worst starts to a game the Jaguars have had all season.
Yet to play a full game at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Foles completed only seven of 14 passes for 93 yards, an interception and two fumbles. All three of Foles’ turnovers came in the team’s first three drives of the game — including a fumble-six for Tampa Bay with two minutes and 49 seconds remaining in the first quarter, which would set the tone for the entire first half.
Reminiscent of the third quarter in last week’s game against the Tennessee Titans, the Jaguars quickly fell 15-0 on the heels of two Foles turnovers during the first quarter. By halftime, Tampa bay would have scored 25 unanswered points, with Jacksonville committing three turnovers and four-straight three-and-out-drives.
It was at that point when Marrone felt the switch needed to occur. Desperate for points, the Jaguars head coach had no choice but to return to the former rookie of the month.
“It was kind of dead and I wanted to get things going and made the switch at quarterback. I told Nick [Foles] coming in, as soon as I got in there at halftime, I spoke to him. We got everything ready for Gardner [Minshew II]. “
Minshew completed 16 of 27 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown and an interception during the second half of the game, and Marrone says Minshew did ultimately provide the team with the spark it needed.
“I think we had an opportunity. I’m not going to sit here and say that we didn’t, so I would say yes to that,” said Marrone when asked if Minshew did ultimately provide the spark the team needed.
Down 25-3, the Jaguars’ offense was finally able to get a touchdown on the board on the back of their rookie quarterback and an effortless pass to wide receiver Dede Westbrook. With less than 14 minutes remaining in the game, it would be too little, too late.
Down 11-25 with 6:16 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars had an opportunity at the Tampa Bay one-yard line to score a touchdown to bring the game within seven. Instead, Minshew’s pass was deflected at the goal line off the hands of Westbrook and into the awaiting arms of Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting.
The Minshew-led Jaguars relied on the rookie’s mobility and secured the first 11 points of the game for the team, moving the ball better and much more efficiently than they have in the past three weeks of the season.
“A little bit of mobility,” Marrone said on why Nick Foles is having difficulty moving the offense downfield compared to Gardner Minshew II “I think that helps [Gardner Minshew II]. Up front, they got after us a little bit, knocked us back, squeezed the pocket, so from that standpoint, he can extend plays a little bit more. I think it changes a little bit, but not much in this game coverage-wise. The lead was 22 and they were still coming after us. That’s not the case. We were able to make some plays.”
Boo-birds persisted as the Jaguars continued to struggle with Foles down during the first half of the game, and chants for the rookie quarterback were heard loud and clear throughout TIAA Bank Field, and while he appreciated the support Minshew said after the game what he didn’t appreciate were the boos he heard.
“One thing I didn’t appreciate was a lot of the booing today,” Minshew said after the game on Sunday. “You got guys that [are] putting their hearts out there every play, every game, and nobody deserves that. I hated how that was, but I was also super appreciative of the support.”
Ultimately, the Jaguars made a switch which has been highly anticipated for nearly two weeks as Foles and the Jaguars’ offense continued to struggle. Whether or not the spark will continue for the Jaguars moving forward remains to be seen, but losing their fourth straight game will likely end all half-measures in the future.