Mark Brunell: Minshew a positive, but an agonizing start for Jaguars


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Could the start to the 2019 season have been any worse for the Jaguars? 

Sure, a 40-26 loss to the Chiefs is disappointing, but how that defeat played out is about as agonizing as possible. 

Let's start with the most obvious thing and that's the injury to Nick Foles. Doug Marrone's strategy to this preseason was keeping the team healthy. Under no circumstances do you want your starting quarterback hurt and that's exactly what happened Sunday. It's certainly not Marrone's fault. Injuries are part of the game.

But losing your franchise quarterback in Week 1 will be tough to overcome. All indications are that this collarbone fracture, which will require surgery, could keep Foles out between six and eight weeks.

Can the Jaguars hold down the fort that long to still have a season left? 

Probably the most frustrating thing was the effort turned in by what was supposed to be one of the best defenses in the NFL. I know it's early, and I know we were playing Patrick Mahomes, but the defense couldn't get off the field. Too many big plays. Too many penalties. Too many points. The Chiefs scored on their first seven possessions of the game.

Multiple times, receivers were running free. Breakdown in coverage? Are their players that much better than our defenders? Was it scheme? These are questions that must be answered, and answered in a hurry.

If you watched the game, you certainly noticed something all too familiar. The team, as it did in 2018, simply lost its composure. This is without a doubt an emotional game. But emotions have to be held in check. You are going to have bad plays. You are going to get beat. You will get frustrated.

When that happens, you do your best to not get a foolish penalty that costs the team. How does this get fixed? It's really up to the coaching staff and the leaders on the team to communicate how critical it is to play smart. The Jaguars were far from smart this week.

If there was one bright spot, I think you know who it is. 

Gardner Minshew was impressive. For a kid that many thought shouldn't even be the backup, he stepped in and did his job. I know how difficult it is for a young quarterback to come off the bench and move the team. You're surprised. You're nervous and feel overwhelmed. You rarely see a rookie come in and be so effective.

Minshew had excellent numbers, but his success went far beyond that. He was confident. He clearly  understood the gameplay. He took care of the ball. Most important, Minshew moved the team and scored points. This is the guy for possibly the next couple months.

Well done, Gardner, for a performance that will long be remembered.

It doesn't get easier. The Jaguars travel to Houston next to play a tough Texans team.

A win would not only be huge for a team that may already be on the tops, but it's absolutely necessary. We can only hope this team turns it around in a hurry. Go Jaguars. 

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