After a quasi-blowout in Jacksonville’s home opener, in a game where seemingly everything went wrong, it would be easy to overreact and give up on the season. But I think it would be unfair to draw that conclusion this early.
Yes, Foles is hurt and will likely miss at least half the season. That sucks. While Foles certainly isn’t elite, he is solid. He’s a player who can make the routine throws, avoid unnecessary mistakes, and elevate his game in clutch situations. That is exactly what this team needed and that will be difficult to replace.
Fortunately, the Jaguars’ offense doesn’t require a great quarterback. They are a run first team who relies on play action and short throws in the passing game.
It’s too early to tell, but Gardner Minshew may just be able to fill that role. His stat line speaks for itself: 22/25, 275 yards, 2 TD. Outside of a late interception, he was near-perfect. He was accurate, moved around well in the pocket, and made good, quick decisions. We should temper our expectations with him and not blow this performance out of proportion, but he did play well today. The entire offense played well today. Assuming Fournette continues to run like he did today, and the line stays healthy enough, the offense will be fine.
Defensively, it couldn’t have been much worse. Mahomes seemingly walked ran the Chiefs down the field the entire first half. Considering the Jaguars are supposedly one of the league’s best defenses, that was alarming to watch. It was a combination of Andy Reid out-scheming Todd Walsh, and their players simply out-executing ours.
But, it was Kansas City - the best offense in the NFL - who will have their way against most defenses this year. It was also the first game of the season, when games are at their highest level of unpredictability. Given the talent on this defense and the production they’ve shown the last two seasons, I’m inclined to believe this result is an outlier.
What is concerning, however, is the lack of discipline. While that is typical for season openers, double-digit penalties simply aren’t acceptable for a winning team and neither are players getting ejected for losing composure. Hopefully the poor play can mostly be attributed to rust. We will know next week whether or not these issues are truly characteristic of the team.
We might be in for a long season. It might turn out okay. It’s simply too early to tell and there are enough positives on our side to indicate we are in a better position than the final score today showed. Let’s not panic just yet.