In what was the final game EVER at the Oakland Coliseum, Raiders fans were sent home with the bitterest of tastes in their mouths. A 13 point halftime lead turned into a gut-wrenching second-half collapse by the silver and black. The Jaguars improved to 5-9 on the year, while the Raiders dropped to 6-8.
Here are my five biggest observations from the game that was.
Josh Allen and Yannick Ngakoue MUST be kept together.
It's unclear how the Jaguars — or who — will be handling the Yannick Ngakoue contract negotiations next year. But one thing is crystal clear: The Jaguars need to find a way to keep Yannick Ngakoue and Josh Allen — who picked up his 10th sack of the year — together. Allen is locked up for the foreseeable future, but Yannick is set to hit free agency following 2019. The Jaguars would be wise not to let that happen. In a strong defensive effort, the Jaguars' star pass-rushers combined for three sacks and five tackles behind the line of scrimmage. It was a vision of what could be, should the Jaguars decide to hold on to Yan long term.
Gardner Minshew deserves a shot.
The Jaguars, particularly Gardner Minshew, had every excuse to fold in the second half: a hostile environment, five straight blow out losses, a swiss cheese offensive line, and a severe lack of weapons. But Gardner Minshew hung in there and guided the Jaguars back from a double-digit deficit, giving the club it's first West Coast victory since '05. After a slow start, Minshew finished 17/29 for 201 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. The 17 consecutive points scored over the final two quarters of football can largely be attributed to Minshew's arms and legs. The kid still has a long way to go, and it's not yet clear if he has what it takes to be a long term starter. But with a record of 5-5 and two big come from behind wins on his resume, Minshew deserves a shot to be the guy going into 2020.
The Jaguars probably need to upgrade the safety position.
On the Raiders' first drive of the game, safety Jarrod Wilson was the main culprit when it came to allowing the Raiders to move the ball down the field. On second and short, Wilson couldn't keep up with Darren Waller in the flat and allowed a first down and a lot more. Later in the drive, Wilson whiffed on a tackle that allowed Tyrell Williams to dance into the endzone. On the scoring play, Wilson first attempted to pick the pass off, didn't get close to it, and then couldn't bring Williams down. Wilson was in position to make the play but wasn't skilled enough to do so. It seems to me that Jarrod Wilson was in the perfect role prior to 2019. As the primary backup at both safety spots, Wilson could generally get the job done when called upon. But as teams develop game plans, they can now target Wilson in coverage and take advantage of his limitations. He's not good enough to consistently make a positive impact on the game for the Jaguars.
Another quality starting receiver is required.
The Jaguars MUST exit the 2020 NFL Draft with another starting outside receiver. DJ Chark is great, but when he's not on the field, the Jaguars don't have another guy that can step up and be the alpha. Chris Conley found the end zone twice today, but it's clear that he can't play with enough consistency to be the second guy on a high-octane offense. For this offense to get where it needs to be next season, another big-time, playmaking receiver is necessary. Luckily for the Jaguars, there's a plethora of receiver talent throughout the upcoming draft.
Cam Robinson . . . yikes.
I'll be the first to say that Cam Robinson deserves a pass for his early-season play. It's never easy for tackles to come off an ACL and be the same guy immediately. But for a young player that missed almost all of his sophomore campaign in 2018, it was never fair to expect him to be at his best. Instead of honing his craft throughout the offseason, he was working just to get back on the field. But by this point in the season, Robinson should be playing at a higher level. Right now, he's a liability in pass protection. Is it possible that Robinson could kick into guard? Is it possible that he just needs a full offseason of development? The answers aren't entirely clear for Cam Robinson, but one thing is. He has to play better.
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