Min­shew sharp in fi­nale

Quar­ter­back’s im­pres­sive per­for­mance may help em­bat­tled coach keep his job

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS MONDAY - By Mark Long

JAGUARS 38, COLTS 20

JACK­SONVILLE — This much is cer­tain for the Jack­sonville Jaguars: Min­shew Ma­nia will con­tinue into 2020.

Coach Doug Mar­rone might even be around for it.

Gard­ner Min­shew turned in his best per­for­mance in two months, throw­ing for 295 yards and three touch­downs in a 38-20 vic­tory over In­di­anapo­lis on Sun­day.

The rookie closed out Jack­sonville’s dis­ap­point­ing year by strength­en­ing his case to be the team’s start­ing quar­ter­back over Nick Foles next sea­son. Mar­rone seem­ingly helped his own cause, too.

Mar­rone’s status has been un­clear since team owner Shad Khan fired top ex­ec­u­tive Tom Cough­lin last week. Khan will meet with Mar­rone, general man­ager Dave Cald­well and oth­ers in the com­ing days be­fore de­cid­ing any­one’s fate. Mar­rone and Cald­well have two years re­main­ing on their con­tracts.

“Am I dis­ap­pointed? Ob­vi­ously. Am I con­cerned? Yes. You’re al­ways con­cerned when you have a dis­ap­point­ing sea­son,” Mar­rone said. “But for this mo­ment, when I leave here, I might have a lit­tle bit more than one beer.”

Min­shew and the Jaguars (6-10) cer­tainly made Mar­rone look good in the reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale for both teams. Min­shew con­nected with Kee­lan Cole, Ryquell Arm­stead and Dede West­brook for touch­downs.

The sixth-round draft pick was at his best on con­sec­u­tive passes to Cole, a 45-yard pre­ci­sion floater down the side­line and then a 14-yard strike while on the run for a score.

He looked like a rookie at times as well, with a fum­ble, an in­ter­cep­tion and two point-blank mis­fires in the red zone. Still, he helped Jack­sonville win at home for the first time in two months.

“At least from now un­til when­ever we start the off­sea­son the guys in that locker room can feel good about some­thing,” Mar­rone said.

The Colts (7-9) had a chance to fin­ish .500 or bet­ter for the seventh time in the past eight years. But they did lit­tle on of­fense in the sec­ond half and fin­ished below .500 for the sec­ond time in three sea­sons.

“Ob­vi­ously not the way we en­vi­sioned end­ing with this game,” Colts coach Frank Re­ich said. “But I’ve been in this league a long time and I know we’re very close, we’re very close. We just need to coach a lit­tle bit bet­ter, play a lit­tle bit bet­ter, and for a hand­ful of plays, it could be a dif­fer­ent story. But to­day was dis­ap­point­ing.”

Ja­coby Bris­sett fum­bled on con­sec­u­tive drives in the fourth quar­ter, end­ing any chance In­di­anapo­lis had to end the year with con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries. Yan­nick Ngak­oue caused the first one that Calais Camp­bell re­turned for a touch­down and a 31-20 lead.

“It changed the game,” Bris­sett said. “I can’t be mak­ing those types of mis­takes.”

Camp­bell chucked the ball into the stands, and Ngak­oue yelled, “Pay me my money, man.” Ngak­oue is a pend­ing free agent and likely to get a fran­chise tag in the off­sea­son.

“I’ve seen a lot and learned a lot be­ing here in this or­ga­ni­za­tion,” he said. “I’m for­ever thank­ful for them giving me an op­por­tu­nity. At the end of the day, I don’t know what the fu­ture holds. Busi­ness is busi­ness.”

Bris­sett turned it over again on the next drive. The late turnovers al­lowed Jack­sonville to top 30 points for the first time in 15 months, since Week 2 in 2018.

Camp­bell stumped for Mar­rone after the win.

“We’ve got a lot of re­spect for him,” Camp­bell said. “We didn’t play as good as we wanted to, but I think we can win a Su­per Bowl with him as the coach.”

Run­ning back Mar­lon Mack and re­ceiver T.Y. Hil­ton were bright spots for Indy. Mack ran for 77 yards and two touch­downs in the first half. Hil­ton, who missed six games this sea­son, had three re­cep­tions for 72 yards.

Jaguars run­ning back Leonard Four­nette has yet to play a full NFL sea­son.

Four­nette was in­ac­tive be­cause of the flu, the first game he’s missed this sea­son. It’s the third con­sec­u­tive year that the fourth over­all pick in the 2017 draft has missed at least one game. Four­nette also sat out five games dur­ing his fi­nal col­le­giate sea­son at LSU.

Four­nette fin­ished with 1,152 yards rush­ing and three touch­downs in 2019. He also led the team with 76 re­cep­tions.

Four­nette and re­ceiver DJ Chark be­came Jack­sonville’s first team­mates to reach 1,000 yards in the same sea­son since run­ning back Fred Tay­lor and re­ceiver Jimmy Smith in 2004. It should be a rou­tine oc­cur­rence, but the fact that it hasn’t hap­pened in 15 years shows how few play­mak­ers the Jaguars have had in re­cent years.

Josh Lambo broke Jack­sonville’s fran­chise record for field goals in a sea­son with a 53-yarder in the sec­ond quar­ter. Lambo’s sec­ond of the game and 32nd of the year topped the pre­vi­ous mark set by Mike Hol­lis in 1997 and tied two years later. Lambo added a 56-yarder at the end of the first half.

Have to get more play­mak­ers for Bris­sett, who went 2-6 down the stretch.

Jaguars: Need to de­cide on Mar­rone and Cald­well, and then be­gin re­build­ing a de­pleted ros­ter. It should help that Jack­sonville has two first-round draft picks in each of the next two sea­sons.

HARRY AARON/GETTY

Jack­sonville quar­ter­back Gard­ner Min­shew II at­tempts to out­run the Colts’ Trevon Coley dur­ing the Jaguars’ win at TIAA Bank Field on Sun­day.

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