HOUSTON -- If you thought Minshew Mania was nuts last week, wait until this week.
The rookie quarterback led the Jacksonville Jaguars on a late touchdown drive, and though the Jaguars' two-point try came up just short in a 13-12 loss to the Houston Texans, the franchise has to be ecstatic about what Gardner Minshew showed Sunday at NRG Stadium. After an up-and-down performance through the first 3½ quarters, Minshew got hot late in the fourth and led the Jaguars on a 68-yard touchdown drive that included an 18-yard scramble on fourth-and-10.
The Jaguars won't have Nick Foles until Nov. 17 at the earliest because of a broken collarbone, but Minshew (23-of-33, 213 yards) showed Sunday that he's more than capable of not only keeping the Jaguars' division hopes afloat, but potentially stealing a few games.
He did fumble three times after getting sacked, but the Jaguars were able to recover the first two. The third, however, ended up in the arms of J.J. Watt, and the Texans turned it into a touchdown. However, the blame for that belongs on the offensive line.
As he did against Kansas City, Minshew looked poised, never panicked, and made clutch throws. As he gains experience, he should only get better.
Buy the Jaguars' defense: One week after giving up 40 points, 491 yards, 24 first downs, and 378 yards passing, the Jaguars limited the Texans to just 263 total yards. They did it without DE Yannick Ngakoue (hamstring) and CB A.J. Bouye (hip), too, which is an encouraging sign that the Week 1 performance was way out-of-character for a unit that's supposed to be one of the league's best.
Troubling trend: The offensive line did a lot of damage to the Jaguars’ chances of winning in the second half. A holding penalty on RT Jawaan Taylor wiped out a big gain and LT Will Richardson got beat on an inside spin move by Whitney Mercilus, who sacked Minshew and forced a fumble the Texans turned into a touchdown. C Brandon Linder had a holding penalty that wiped out a first down and Richardson had a false start on the next snap on the Jaguars' previous drive. It's not fair, but the reality is the offense pretty much has to be perfect to help out the rookie quarterback. Those kind of mistakes, especially when they wipe out big gains that could spark the offense, are drive-killers.
Troubling trend, part II: DE Calais Campbell battled a foot injury throughout the week, which could be the reason he wasn't able to make much of an impact on Sunday (four tackles). He didn't do much in the season opener against Kansas City, either (three tackles), and admitted he didn't play his best game. Campbell has been the Jaguars' best defensive lineman over the past two seasons and arguably had a better season in 2018 despite playing through back, leg and ankle injuries. With Ngakoue dealing with a hamstring injury and rookie DE Josh Allen trying to find his way, the team is leaning even more on Campbell. He has to stay as healthy as possible, especially with the Jaguars on a quick turnaround (they play Tennessee on Thursday).