JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Mississippi Mustache is back in Jacksonville’s starting lineup.
Rookie sensation Gardner Minshew will start at quarterback Sunday when the reeling Jaguars host the Chargers. He replaces ex-Arizona Wildcat Nick Foles following the team’s fourth consecutive lopsided loss.
Coach Doug Marrone made the announcement Monday, one day after a 28-11 home loss to Tampa Bay in which the Jaguars (4-8) managed 242 yards, turned the ball over four times and were flagged a season-high 16 times for 125 yards. It was Jacksonville’s 18th loss in its past 24 games.
“We feel with Gardner’s mobility and elusiveness, it gives us a better chance of winning with the way we’re playing right now because we’re all not doing a good enough job,” Marrone said.
Asked whether the job would be Minshew’s for the remainder of the season, Marrone said, “We’re planning on him playing.”
It was the obvious move following Sunday’s debacle against Tampa Bay. Foles ended Jacksonville’s first three drives with turnovers that the Buccaneers turned into touchdowns. Marrone benched Foles at halftime, trailing 25-0.
Marrone said Foles handled the demotion like a pro.
“It’s brutal; it’s tough,” Marrone said. “He’s a competitor. He worked his (butt) off to come back. He’s a great pro, so he’s going to do everything he can to help us win. And at the same time, he’s got to be ready in case there’s an injury. I think the world of him. I think he’s a really good quarterback. He obviously can win in this league. But we have to have some help around him.”
Minshew, who went 4-4 as the starter while Foles recovered from a broken left collarbone suffered in the opener, rallied the team and had a chance to make it a seven-point game in the fourth quarter. But his would-be TD pass slipped through Dede Westbrook’s hands and resulted in an interception.
The Jaguars signed Foles to a four-year, $88 million contract in free agency that included $50.125 million guaranteed. It made sense for them to go back to the former Philadelphia backup once he was healthy, if anything, just to see what he could do.
Switching back to Minshew could complicate the situation moving forward.
Foles’ contract pays him $15.125 million in 2020 — fully guaranteed — and he will count nearly $22 million against the salary cap. That’s a huge payout for a guy not guaranteed to be the starter.
Loss drops Pats into tie for AFC leadFOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Issues on offense have been a recurring theme for the Patriots this season.
The saving grace has been a defense that put up historic numbers in guiding New England to an 8-0 start.
But for the second time in four games an opponent found a way to score points against that once imposing unit.
The latest setback, a 28-22 loss to Houston on Sunday, cost New England its place as the sole leader atop the AFC. It’s left the Patriots with much to clean up on both sides of the ball as they prepare to host Kansas City in a rematch of last season’s AFC championship game.
The Patriots (10-2) didn’t force a turnover on Sunday, while the Texans accounted for four passing scores. The passing TDs were the most that New England has given up since it surrendered three in a Week 14 loss at Miami last season.
The Patriots remain in first place in the AFC East and are tied with Baltimore for the conference’s best record. But if both teams end the season with the same record, the Ravens would get the top seed in the playoffs by virtue of their win over New England on Nov. 3.