Jaguars go out strong, crush Colts in finale
Offseason questions begin immediately for owner Shad Khan
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – That’s a wrap.
Now, for the more pressing question. What comes next for the Jaguars?
On a day with nothing but pride left to play for, the Jaguars went out and demolished the Colts 38-20 in the regular season finale at TIAA Bank Field on Sunday.
With the playoffs long since out of reach and an offseason of changes right around the corner, Jacksonville (6-10) at least showed that it had some fight left.
Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II had three touchdown passes and the defense was dominant in the second half as the Jaguars erased a 20-13 deficit and rolled into the offseason with at least the taste of a victory.
“Yeah it was a lot of excitement. We don’t know what the future holds or who all is going to be here but we do know that the guys that are going to be here are going to be all in and ready to use this as a springboard moving into the offseason," Minshew said.
But the bigger question is what does a Week 17 win over another non-playoff team mean — if anything — for Jaguars owner Shad Khan?
Will it be enough to spare coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell from pink slips on Black Monday, or has the damage from another season of unmet expectations been done?
“The communication that we’ve had, even though it’s not public, we’ve had a lot of communication,” Marrone said of he and Shad Khan and his son, Tony Khan. "They want to do the best job they can for our fans and for the city, for our sponsors, for everyone in the building. I know for me; I appreciate that and thank them. I feel that it’s been disappointing. I know in my heart that I can take this team to better roads, but again, that’s not my decision.”
Those answers could come as early as midweek, when Khan, according to his spokesman, will meet with Jaguars coaches to presumably discuss their futures. The Jaguars will pick No. 9 and No. 20 in next year’s NFL draft.
Jacksonville won two of its final three games for a bit of late season momentum, although that can’t disguise the year as a whole.
It was a massive letdown, filled with struggles almost from the opening snap.
High priced free agent signee Nick Foles broke his collarbone in the opening quarter of a Week 1 loss to the Chiefs and went on injured reserve. When Foles returned, he was erratic and underperformed and ultimately benched in favor of sixth-round rookie Minshew.
Jacksonville traded away Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey and saw executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin fired two weeks ago in what was then expected to be the first of several front office changes by Khan. The Jaguars are just 11-21 since reaching the AFC championship game in 2017.
But reports surfaced over the past 10 days that the Jaguars could wind up holding on to both Caldwell and Marrone, although ESPN reported Saturday afternoon that Marrone would be fired. That report was widely panned as inaccurate or at least premature. Marrone called that ESPN report a “joke.”
The Jaguars at least showed up on Sunday when it would have been simple to just throw in the towel, which is something to be said for coach Doug Marrone.
The defense flipped a switch in the decisive second half against the Colts (7-9).
Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue forced Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett to fumble and Calais Campbell scooped it up and walked it in for an 8-yard touchdown. Taven Bryan forced another Brissett fumble on the following drive and Minshew converted that into an 18-yard scoring pass to Dede Westbrook.
Minshew put Jacksonville in front on the opening drive of the second half, throwing a 3-yard touchdown pass to Ryquell Armstead and a two-point conversion to Westbrook.
Minshew finished 27 of 39 for 295 yards. Westbrook, Keelan Cole and Armstead caught those touchdown passes.
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