Jaguars rocked in dismal season opener
Foles knocked out with injury, defense torched in loss to Chiefs
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars lost their season opener and a whole lot more on Sunday.
Their defense was abused. Their starting middle linebacker ejected. And Nick Foles, the quarterback that was supposed to alter the direction of the franchise, didn't even make it out of the opening quarter, done in by a broken collarbone that will require surgery.
Not how the Jaguars saw 2019 starting out.
The high-powered Chiefs exploited numerous flaws and popped the Jaguars 40-26 in the opener at TIAA Bank Field.
The worst-case scenario unfolded right about out of the start.
It took the Chiefs all of three plays to get on the scoreboard and they never stopped, rolling up 491 yards and not punting until there was 5:38 to play.
When Foles got into a rhythm on Jacksonville's second drive of the game, it ended abruptly. Foles lofted a beautiful pass to D.J. Chark, who grabbed it over Kendall Fuller and held on for a 35-yard touchdown.
That was the final pass Foles threw.
"You know what I'm going to say right?," coach Doug Marrone said. "S--- happens. What are you going to do? You've got to lead. You know what I'm saying? It's easy to sit here and say ‘Woe is me,' and all that s---. I'm fired up for the challenge. I'm fired up to coach these players. I'm fired up for the challenge."
Foles was sandwiched at the end of the play and driven into the turf. He was taken to the locker room after the play and ruled out the remainder of the game. The diagnosis: a broken left collarbone that will put the franchise quarterback out for an undetermined amount of time. It is the second time that Foles has broken that collarbone, his first coming in 2014.
"We don't have a time span. We're going to take it one day at a time," Foles said. "Ultimately, just get the surgery done and also praying for [head team physician Kevin] Kaplan to be ready to roll. I'm going to do everything I can to get back as quickly as I can to where I'm ready to roll."
With or without Foles, it probably wouldn't have mattered.
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs strafed the Jaguars vaunted defense with ease. Mahomes had 313 passing yards at halftime and finished with 378 yards on 25-of-33 passing and three touchdowns.
All three of those went to receiver Sammy Watkins, whose first catch of the game went 68 yards and through a slew of missed tackles by the Jaguars secondary. Watkins finished with 198 yards receiving on nine catches. The Jaguars struggled to cover tight end Travis Kelce, too. He finished with 88 yards on three catches.
"You've got to give them credit. They beat us," Marrone said. "We weren't in the best position. They did a nice job. Sometimes you've just got to tip your hat. Hopefully we can do a better job. They've done that to a lot of football teams. Got to learn form it and get better."
The Jaguars also lost their composure.
Starting middle linebacker Myles Jack was ejected for throwing punches at Chiefs receiver Demarcus Robinson and had to be physically restrained and escorted from the field by Jaguars staffers.
Outside of the injury to Foles, rookie Gardner Minshew played very well in relief, a positive sign because the sixth-round pick will be starting for the foreseeable future.
He led the Jaguars to a pair of drives that ended with field goals in the opening half that cut the Chiefs' lead to 23-13 and threw his first NFL touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, a 15-yarder to Dede Westbrook. Minshew added a second scoring pass with 1:55 to play, a 21-yarder to Chris Conley. Minshew finished 22 of 25 for 275 yards, a pair of touchdowns and an interception.
Chark had a breakout game for Jacksonville, catching four passes for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Chark said that he felt like Minshew would be up to the challenge of stepping in for Foles for an extended period of time.
"Oh yes, definitely. 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," Chark said. "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."
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