Titans vs. Jaguars key takeaways: Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville defense shine in 20-7 rout of Tennessee
The Titans had no answer for the sixth-round rookie QB, but their biggest issue came on offense
"Thursday Night Football" had rain, penalties and another sloppy performance from Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans, but it also had another edition of Minshew Mania, with rookie quarterback and cult hero Gardner Minshew II leading the Jacksonville Jaguars to their first win of the 2019 NFL season.
Minshew had some help from a ferocious Jags pass rush on Thursday night at home, where the crowd got to see Jacksonville steamroll an AFC South rival.
Did Gardner Minshew give Jalen Ramsey a reason to stay in Jacksonville? Are the Titans hurtling towards a quarterback change? Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson, John Breech and Sean Wagner-McGough break every angle from the Jags win over the Titans on the Pick Six Podcast. Click play below and make sure to subscribe to our daily NFL podcast.
Here's a deeper dive into the kickoff of Week 3, which saw the Jags claim a 20-7 victory:
Why the Jaguars won
Minshew Mania was alive and well right out of the gate, giving the Jags more than enough early momentum to ride throughout Thursday's rainy, sloppy affair. Jacksonville's rookie hero looked poised every time he took the field, and if not for a Dede Westbrook drop, he would've easily had three touchdowns to put the cherry on another surprisingly promising performance. Even more important, Calais Campbell looked nothing like a 33-year-old pass rusher, absolutely wrecking Tennessee's interior offensive line to render Marcus Mariota irrelevant and establish that old-school Jags swag we saw during the team's run to the AFC Championship a few seasons ago -- leading a charge that sacked Mariota nine times over the course of the night.
Why the Titans lost
First and foremost, Mariota -- and, to be frank, everyone on the Titans offense and coaching staff aside from maybe Derrick Henry -- was straight-up garbage. Is that mean? Well, it's true. The Titans QB had one nice deep ball to Tajae Sharp, but otherwise, he was all over the place -- holding the ball when he needed to throw it away, lofting it when he needed to bullet it, and so forth. This guy's still making rookie mistakes. Henry flashed life on a few outside runs, and Corey Davis made an acrobatic one-handed catch working against Jalen Ramsey, but the offense was lifeless and failed to capitalize on Jacksonville's stagnant stretch following Minshew's 14-0 first-quarter run.
Because Tennessee basically rolled over as soon as the Jags went up 14-0, Thursday night's turning point really came at the tail end of the first drive of the game. Minshew and Co. were forced off the field after just three plays on their opening series, and yet Adoree Jackson couldn't handle the ensuing punt deep in his own territory. Eventually, the ball completely escaped his fumbling grasps, and all of a sudden, the Jags had the ball at the Titans' 7-yard line, then got a touchdown on the very next play. At that point, everyone in the building was aware the life had been sucked from Tennessee, even if they didn't want to admit it.
Play of the game
Minshew had a couple of pretty throws against the Titans secondary, but none was better than his 22-yard loft to D.J. Chark for the Jaguars' second TD of the night. The young QB and WR duo also connected on a nice 37-yarder down the sideline, but this one was dropped right where it needed to be for Chark to get both feet down in the end zone. The receiver did a heck of a job locating the ball in the air, too. Talk about an emerging downfield threat.
"I think there's a lot of guys that fought, a lot of guys that competed. We'll have to find out if everybody was doing that. Judging by the score, probably not." -- Mike Vrabel, Titans head coach
Vrabel isn't mincing words here, but maybe his team needs that kind of kick in the behind. For what it's worth, this response came after the coach was asked specifically about Marcus Mariota and whether Vrabel was pleased with how the QB responded in the second half.
Now that they're in the "W" column, the Jaguars (1-2) will enjoy a long rest and return in Week 4, on Sunday, Sept. 29, with a road matchup against the Denver Broncos (0-2). The Titans (1-2), meanwhile, might be facing a tougher test that same day, when they travel to Atlanta for a showdown with the Falcons (1-1).
Relive all the action from Jags-Titans right here:
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