Sunday, December 8, 2019

Who's at QB?

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

On Thanksgiving Day, watching the Detroit Lions defense blow another lead and enabling the Chicago Bears to pull out a 24-20 win was tough to digest.

But what was tougher to watch was seeing a 4-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team destroy the Jacksonville Jaguars on 28-11, Sunday, December 1st at TIAA Bank Field.

When a team jumps out to a 25-0 lead at halftime with the help of three turnovers and a veteran QB that played like a third string rookie, that's bad.

There is no question that Nick Foles struggles were evident early. His lack of mobility left him looking like a sitting duck in the pocket.

Foles had one interception, a fumble loss, an intentional grounding call inside the Jaguars five-yard line plus three sacks losing 23 yards.

One of his sacks led to a Tampa Bay TD. Foles finished the game with 93 yards one interception and a passer rating of 41.7%.

Everyone in the press box and stadium wondered when he was going to be replaced by Gardner Minshew II.

That answer came at the start of the second half when Minshew II was inserted. The crowd cheered loudly. The rookie signal caller didn't disappoint by going 16-27, 147 yards, threw for one touchdown and had one interception.

That spark may not have won Jacksonville the game but it did earn Minshew the starting job for the remainder of the season.

How would Minshew II fare against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday December 8th?

He would lead the Jaguars to a 14 play, 67 yard drive that took 7:37 as Josh Lambo kicked a 26-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

But today, Chargers QB Philip Rivers, 38, played like Joe Montana and out classed Minshew on his birthday. Rivers was 16-22 for 314 yards and three touchdowns and zero interceptions. His passer rating was near perfect at 154.4 and only played three quarters with his team leading 38-10.

Tyrod Taylor took over for Rivers in the fourth quarter. He would lead the Chargers to a touchdown giving them a 45-10 lead.

By the end of this night, in back to back games, it wouldn't have mattered who was at QB.

Against the Chargers, the team simply looked flat! There is no nice way to put this.

The Jaguars problems go deeper than there signal callers.

Losing two home games 28-11 and 45-10 to sub-.500 teams that won't make the playoffs means that whatever decisions are made down the road, some changes NEED to be made.

Furthermore, a team that was once 4-4 has now lost five straight and could be in the midst of a coaching change. For that matter, the changes could go much deeper than with the coaches.

In the post-game press conference, Coach Doug Marrone's face said it all.

"We made too many mistakes all over the place," he said. "This was a poor performance all around by all of us, the players and the coaches. It starts with me. I haven't done a good enough job. In this league, it's all about wins and losses. Tonight, we simply didn't execute.

"Everything on the film is on tape. What's out there is out there."

Minshew II finished the night going 24-37 for 162 yards and one touchdown. He rushed for 50 yards.

Minshew said, "the Chargers defense was super disciplined. We had opportunities to make plays and we didn't. We didn't convert on third downs. They're a good team and they just beat us."

The Jaguars had 252 yards in total offense.

The Chargers Defensive Coordinator is former Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley and he must have enjoyed every moment of this convincing win.

The Chargers win enabled them to improve their all-time lead in this series to 8-3. They improved to 5-8 this season which began with playoff aspirations.

Next week, the Jaguars will face another opponent in the AFC West and it will be another squad that had playoff aspirations. The Oakland Raiders (6-7) will play their final game in the Oakland Coliseum as they move to Las Vegas in 2020.

You can rest assure that the Raiders will be fired up in their final game in the Bay Area.

This isn't what the Jaguars want to hear since they are reeling.

To think they're 4-9 at this point was unthinkable.

Nobody cared that they were 0-4 in the pre-season because they wanted to do their best to keep there regular players healthy.

But now as this tumultuous season comes to a conclusion which also included the departure of Jalen Ramsey, one can only imagine what the final three weeks will be like.

Do they have their QB of the future in Gardner Minshew II or will Foles get another opportunity with a different coaching staff? How alive is Minshew Mania? Time will tell.

What we do know was when the team was winning games in the first half of the season, the Jaguars made money off of the marketing phenomena, but would ultimately never sniff the playoffs.

This is almost shaping up to sound like Abbott And Costello with a lot of Who's and What's. We'll know those answers in the coming weeks.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottbm33@gmail.com and he's the Founder and CEO of The South Florida Tribune. He's also the Owner of The South Florida Tribune Broadcasting Network.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Destined To Happen

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

If there was a matchup that was destined to happen in The Ryan Conference-USA Championship Game, this afternoon’s FAU Stadium matchup between the UAB Blazers vs FAU Owls is it.

In 2018, UAB defeated Middle Tennessee 27-25 to capture the C-USA Championship.

In 2017, FAU mauled North Texas 41-17 in Coach Lane Kiffin’s first season and the Owls finished the regular season 10-3 then proceeded to defeat Akron 50-3 in the Boca Raton Bowl. This culminated in an 11-3 campaign.

Going into this contest, one storyline that was common has centered around Kiffin, who has been linked to Power Five job opportunities, with the most rampant one circulating being the Ole Miss Rebels of the SEC. At the end of the game, that speculation became a reality and resigned immediately.

Kiffin finished his tenure with FAU compiling a 26-13 mark.

Defensive Coordinator Glenn Spencer was named interim head coach and will lead the team in the Bowl Game which will be revealed Sunday Night.

Going into the game, Kiffin has abstained from discussing his future to concentrate on this Championship Game.

When the game was over, he only wanted to reflect on an outstanding season for his team as well as the successful three year run he had with the program.

On Thursday’s Sports Exchange, I predicted that FAU would win 21-17.

Whether this would be his final game, the Owls responded by jumping out to an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter. The team played hard-hitting inspired football from the get-go.

By the 14:09 mark in the second quarter, the Owls matched my predicted point mark, jumping out to a 21-3 lead. The Owls led 35-6 at the half as they also blocked a punt deep in Blazers territory which was recovered for a TD. FAU also added a late score with 26 seconds left in the half.

FAU has now scored over 30 points in 10 games. The Owls amassed 304 yards in the first half.

The Owls were in cruise control the rest of the contest. The Owls would come out on top 49-6 and out gained UAB 585-223.

QB Chris Robison was the Championship Game MVP as he threw for 267 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed for an additional 30 yards.

Prior to today’s game, the largest margin of victory for the Owls was a 49-34 win at the now demolished Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale on September 6, 2008, which I covered. The largest margin of victory in this series occurred November 7, 2009 on the road when the Blazers routed FAU 56-29.

The Owls now lead the lifetime series 5-2 and await their Bowl opponent.

Meanwhile, Blazers Coach Bill Clark has done a tremendous job with his program as he owns an all-time career mark of 34-18.

He’s been with the school since 2014 and despite a two-year hiatus, UAB in an elite program in Conference USA.

The future looks bright for UAB as they’ll play in a brand new 45,000 downtown stadium that will open in 2021.

As of this post, UAB also awaits its Bowl destination.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottbm33@gmail.com and is the CEO and Founder of The South Florida Tribune.

He also owns the South Florida Tribune Broadcasting Network.

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