JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The reality check came on Sunday.
The Jaguars' red-hot rookie quarterback finally looked like, well, a rookie.
The Jaguars couldn't do much of anything right offensively, mustered just two field goals and struggled in a 13-6 loss to New Orleans at TIAA Bank Field.
Jacksonville (2-4) was limited to just 226 yards, its worst offensive showing of the season.
On an afternoon built to ride the momentum of Gardner Minshew Mania — more than 30,000 mustaches were distributed to fans and there was a jorts-cutting competition — the Saints put the brakes on the rookie who has taken the NFL by storm.
"I was off. We're going to get that fixed," Minshew said.
New Orleans shook Minshew from open to close and never let him get comfortable. For the first full game this season, Minshew never got into a rhythm with his receivers and there was enough pressure on him at the line of scrimmage to keep him out of sorts.
Minshew endured his worst day in the NFL, finishing just 14 of 29 for 163 yards and an interception. Jacksonville's final drive of merit, a fourth-and-2 play from the Saints' 40 with 9:10 to go, ended with a Minshew overthrow to Chris Conley that wasn't even close.
"At the end of the day, do we sit here and say we have to do a better job? Absolutely," said Jaguars coach Doug Marrone. "No doubt about it, but at the end of the day, sometimes you have to say, ‘S*** those guys are pretty darn good, and they covered our a** and they won that battle.' I hate to say that, but that's what happens."
Jacksonville went three-and-out and punted on its next drive and then watched as New Orleans converted three first downs to bleed the final six minutes of the game.
Credit the defense for keeping the Jaguars in the game.
One week after getting taken apart by Carolina, the Jaguars kept New Orleans out of the end zone for more than three quarters. Teddy Bridgewater finally broke that on a third-and-goal from the 4, going up high and watching Jared Cook pull it in over Jarrod Wilson for a 13-6 lead with 11:49 to play.
Any other week, Minshew or running back Leonard Fournette would have provided a spark. But that never came. Fournette rushed for 72 yards on 20 carries, ending a two-game streak of 100 yards or more.
"This is something we can learn from and by that I mean we need to watch the film and work on the areas where we did not succeed on the play," said receiver D.J. Chark. "We also need to find the holes within the defense and the schemes so that when we see it again playing against a different team, we will be able to find different ways to attack and be better."
Minshew never looked comfortable, underthrowing receivers on multiple occasions and throwing his first interception as a starter on a ball that went directly to Marshon Lattimore on the opening drive of the second half.
"I thought we did a good job of putting the quarterback [Gardner Minshew II] on the spot where we wanted them, not allowing him outside," said Saints coach Sean Payton. "Our objective was to make him play in that phone booth and give him looks defensively we felt like he hasn't seen (before). I thought we did a good job of that. There were a couple of extended plays, but not many."
Only a pair of Josh Lambo field goals got the Jaguars on the board.