The Jacksonville Jaguars were throttled by the Kansas City Chiefs — by a score of 40-26 — to open the 2019 season. Jacksonville lost starting quarterback Nick Foles for an extended period of time, and the team had no answers for Patrick Mahomes and the offensive unit for the Chiefs.
While things didn’t go Jacksonville’s way, and losing Foles in the first of quarter of the new season is as big of a gut punch as possible to begin the year, there were some promising signs out there. While the highly-vaunted defense was dismantled by Mahomes, and coaches Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy, the Jaguars showed a lot of promise offensively — especially sixth-round rookie Gardner Minshew II.
One player who is confident in his team’s ability moving forward is running back, Leonard Fournette. Fournette, who looked smoother and more decisive compared to last season, rushed for 66 yards on just 13 carries (5.1 yards per attempt) and caught four balls (on six targets) for an additional 28 yards. He did lose a fumble, however.
Here is what Fournette said to the media following the game:
“It happens,” Fournette said. “I’m not going to say it was a gut punch because it’s football at the end of the day. A lot of unexpected things happen in a game of football, but you got to keep rolling with the punches.
“I think we’re good,” Fournette said. “It’s only game one and we expected the offense to come in and do what they do and they did. It wasn’t like a blowout. We still kept fighting until the end of the game, so that was a good thing and I liked that in the team and so now we have to move on from this and get ready for the rest of the games that are coming up in the season.”
Fournette also showed confidence in Minshew, and knew the rest of the offense would do all it can to support the rookie signal caller:
“I told (Mishew) we got him when he came out there on the field. We told him we will protect him, and he just made the right calls and the right audible and we got him.”
Another young player who flashed his potential on offense was second year wide receiver, D.J. Chark. Chark had a big game with four catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. He was also wowed by Minshew’s ability and calmness and collectiveness.
“Oh yes, definitely,” Chark said when asked if he was impressed by Minshew’s performance. “Like I said earlier, he’s fearless and that’s the thing that I like about him the most. He steps up in the situation, he won’t blink. And as a receiver, I feel that this room has to help him out. But, he’s the signal caller, so what he says goes, he’s the man in this offense. So, if he wants to change the plays, whatever he wants to do, that’s what we’re going to do and we’re going to make it work.”
Obviously, the end result was not what the Jaguars wanted. But going up against the best offense in the league, and having to thrust a rookie quarterback into the lineup — as well as two very young offensive tackles who played fairly well — to compete with the likes of the Chiefs — was an impossible situation for the team.
At the end of the day, it’s only Week 1. This team will improve and there is a lot of football left to be played. Minshew, if he is in fact the man now, will develop and grow, but the loss of Foles is a huge blow no matter how we slice it. Luckily, the AFC South should remain a wide open division this season.