JACKSONVILLE – This much seems certain for the Jacksonville Jaguars: Minshew Mania will continue into 2020.
Gardner Minshew turned in his best performance in two months, throwing for 295 yards and three touchdowns and leading the Jaguars to a 38-20 victory over Indianapolis on Sunday.
The rookie closed out Jacksonville's disappointing season by strengthening his case to be the team's starting quarterback next season. Coach Doug Marrone might be around, 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.
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, showing poise in the pocket and enough mobility to turn nothing into something.
The sixth-round draft pick was at his best on consecutive passes to Cole, a 45-yarder precision floater down the sideline and then a 14-yard strike 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.
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 years.
Jacoby Brissett fumbled on consecutive drives, ending any chance Indianapolis had to end the season with consecutive wins.
Yannick Ngakoue caused one that Calais Campbell returned for a touchdown and a 31-20 lead. Campbell chucked the ball into the stands, and Ngakoue later turned to the fans and yelled “pay me my money, man.” Ngakoue is a pending free agent who's likely to get the franchise tag, which would keep him in Jacksonville another season.
On the ensuing drive, Taven Bryan knocked the ball out of Brissett's hand. Dawuane Smoot recovered.
The late turnovers allowed Jacksonville to top 30 points for the first time in 15 months, since Week 2 in 2018.
Marlon Mack was the lone bright spot for the Colts. He ran for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
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.
Colts: Have to get more playmakers for Brissett, who went 2-6 down the stretch.
Jaguars: Need to decide futures of Marrone and Caldwell, and then begin rebuilding depleted roster. It should help that Jacksonville has two first-round draft picks in each of the next two seasons.