JACKSONVILLE - Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars' 33-30 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 2 of the 2020 regular season at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday...
1. This definitely is a new team. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone didn't emphasize resilience after this one; he was too focused on the loss. But make no mistake: the resilience and togetherness Marrone has preached in recent weeks and months was evident again Sunday, and that resilience and togetherness bodes well for the 2020 Jaguars moving forward. The Jaguars, as was the case in a 27-20 Week 1 victory over Indianapolis, trailed early Sunday. And as was the case in Week 1, things looked bad for the Jaguars during that early period. But as also was - significantly - the case in Week 1, the Jaguars rallied all the way back and gave themselves a chance to win. This one was on the road against a team that made the AFC Championship Game last season. The Jaguars are 1-1 against two good teams early - and it wouldn't feel like a fluke if they were 2-0. This team isn't tanking. These aren't last season's Jaguars. It's a new team and it might be a good one.
2. Minshew may just be the guy. The Jaguars lost Sunday - but the more you watched Minshew and the offense, the more it felt like the franchise has found its quarterback. I've been among many observers resisting anointing quarterback Gardner Minshew II with that title, and I spent the last few months/weeks cautiously reminding people of Minshew's size and arm-strength concerns. Maybe those always will be issues, but the second-year veteran has shown unbelievably good things in the first two weeks of the season. And while he wasn't perfect Sunday - and while he must avoid the sort of sack that cost the Jaguars 20 key yards in the first half - he also has shown unreal poise, accuracy and decision-making early in the season. Yes, there areas that must improve - and he's not perfect. But I'm not sure I've been more impressed with Minshew than I was Sunday afternoon. It's starting to feel as if the Jaguars have found their quarterback. It's sure getting harder and harder to argue the other way.
3. There were still a lot of good signs. This won't sit well with many Jaguars players, coaches or observers, because in the NFL a loss is a loss is a loss - and there are no "good victories." But there were a ton of good signs for the Jaguars against Tennessee. Remember: the Jaguars are a young team with a lot of young players learning to win; the Titans are a veteran team with Super Bowl aspirations. The way the Jaguars played together and rallied in the first half after falling behind by two touchdowns? The way quarterback Minshew and an offense featuring wide receivers DJ Chark Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr. gave the team a chance to get back in the game - and gave the team hope? The way the defense for a second consecutive week got better as the game continued? All of those were good signs - even if the result wasn't good enough.
1. Special teams...not so special. *There's no way around it: The Jaguars lost 33-30 -- largely thanks to kicker Josh Lambo's awful kickoff at the end of the first half that set up a 51-yard Titans field goal, and his missed extra point. They should have had four more points on the board but didn't. Add in Logan Cooke's meager 35-yard punt with 3:36 remaining that gave the Titans outstanding field position for their game-winning drive and you have an all-around awful day for the Jaguars special teams. I don't even need to add in rookie cornerback Chris Claybrook's muffed kickoff to open the second half that buried the Jaguars at their own 12-yard line. I wouldn't want to be anywhere near special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis on Monday.
2. Minshew didn't get the victory but he's 2-0 in his quest to claim the quarterback job for the long term. He was sensational in the third quarter, leading three consecutive touchdown drives to open the half. Two interceptions will bring his numbers down, but the first ball was tipped by a receiver and not his fault. The game-ending interception looked bad but he's a six-foot quarterback and that happens to those guys. Overall, he completed 66 percent of his passes with 339 yards and three touchdowns and led an offense that is averaging 28.5 points per game. That's a great performance by Minshew on the road against a team that played for the AFC Championship in January. He's starting to win me over.
3. Good and bad. The Jaguars barely sniffed the quarterback in Nashville. Ryan Tannehill completed 75 percent of his passes and tossed four touchdowns on a nearly perfect day for him. Rookie defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson sacked Tannehill once, but he had all day to stand back and pick the Jaguars apart. On the flip side, the Jaguars' run defense had Titans running back Derrick Henry corralled all afternoon; he finished with 84 yards on 3.4 yards per carry. He absolutely impacted the game with a few big runs on second and third quarter scoring drives, but he never got downhill in the same way he did in 2018 and 2019 when he averaged 11 yards per carry in two games in Tennessee.