Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone took questions from the Charlotte media on a conference call Wednesday. Below is a transcript of the Q&A session.
What have you seen from Kyle Allen in this offense?
"I think Coach (John) Matsko with the O-line is doing a good job up front. Obviously, (TE) Greg Olsen is an outstanding player, and has been for a long time. Two receivers are really good after the catch, really good intermediate, really good long and deep, with (WR) DJ (Moore) and (WR) Curtis Samuel. They got some guys behind them – (WR) Chris Hogan who I've been with in college. I think the quarterback is playing really well. We all know coach (Norv) Turner and the great amount of respect we have for him as an offensive coordinator in the league, and a guy that's always done a great job with quarterbacks. I think this is another case where this guy's is coming in, Kyle Allen, and he looks great. He's good in the pocket, good poise, moves, throws in rhythm, gets rid of the ball. Really doing a good job. Obviously, (RB) Christian McCaffrey – I don't know what you can say – just outstanding. Leads the league in rushing, leads the league in all-purpose (yards). He's a matchup nightmare if he gets out there on the perimeter. I think if you don't get enough people around him one-on-one, he can make someone miss and take it to the house. I think it's going to be a great challenge for us with all the weapons that they have on the Panthers offense."
Can you talk about the decision to draft RB Leonard Fournette over RB Christian McCaffrey in 2017?
"I'm not in charge of that. I apologize, that's a better question for Tom Coughlin or Dave Caldwell. I'm not in that process."
Are your players aware of the five fumbles that Kyle Allen has in his last two games?
"I don't know, we preach every week from the beginning of training camp of trying to create turnovers. On the flip end of it offensively, it's the same thing for us. Our quarterback has dropped some balls, got some balls knocked out. We're constantly talking to him about ball security. I think it's one of those things that goes back-and-forth, and everybody is working on it to make sure they secure it offensively, and everyone is making sure they can get it out defensively. So, I don't really look at it too much more than that."
What are some things you've learned about QB Gardner Minshew after working with him?
"We really liked him. We thought he was doing well in the practices during training camp. Really didn't get the production we needed during the preseason. Granted, he wasn't out there with the starting line or the starting receivers, but he's worked with them during camp and looked well but wasn't really sure going in. Then, we put a whole game plan in for (QB) Nick (Foles), and unfortunately he gets hurt in the first quarter on the touchdown pass. The kid goes in there, and you really don't know what to expect. He hasn't practiced all week. Hadn't done anything. All of a sudden, he played well and really gave us a chance. So now you look and you're like, maybe we can game plan, let's see how this long week is, and see how he plays with that. I thought in the beginning he was working hard through it, and then really brought us back in the last two drives against the Texans, and really did a nice job. Then all of a sudden, you look and we have a short week with a team that will change things up on you, a team in our division, and give us a couple different looks. How is he going to respond to that. He played well, and obviously he led us back. The way I look at it, it's just really quite unbelievable, or remarkable is a word that I've used before, when I take a step back and look at it from a distance. When you're in the grind of it every day, you're working hard, you just kind of push everyone, no matter what the position is, to be the best that they can be, and help this team. I think the 10,000-foot view is 'Holy cow,' what an unbelievable job he's doing, but from us and the coaches and all the stuff on the outside, we're pretty much locked in and trying to go on the road again and beat a good football team."
Have you experienced something like this in your career?
"One time when we were with the Jets, we had some injuries. We brought in, I think it was at the time it was (QB) Quincy Carter, and won three games for us, but we really won it running the football, and Quincy did a good job. Not off the top of my head, really. I think it's always a difficult situation for any quarterback to come in there and do a good job. Especially a sixth-round pick in his rookie year. The answer is no, I haven't been through anything like this."
Can you speak to Minshew's status on the injury report today?
"Availability, no. He'll be available – but I say that because I don't want to mislead or try to play games. There's always a concern for anyone, not just your quarterback when they're on that role. I think with the quarterback, we can be more protective about it during the week."
How would you sum up Minshew's personality?
"I don't really see it. I tell everyone, he doesn't talk to me. I'm like, 'Hey, how's it going?' 'Good.' 'How you feeling?' 'Good.' 'Sore?' 'A little.' 'You feel good about this?' 'I feel good about it.' 'You understand what we're trying to do?' 'Yup.' That's about it. So, I'm like the personality that everyone is talking about – even when I get home my kids are like. 'Hey, what's he like?' I'm like, 'I don't know he won't talk to me.' I guess because I'm the head coach. You know what it is though? Honestly – on the outside, I think there's a lot of this stuff that goes on, and I think he has an unbelievable personality outside of football. I think he's one of those guys when you put a ball in his hands, and you put him on the field, and you put him in the classroom, he's focused on that moment and what he has to do there. A lot of guys believe in him, a lot of guys like him, he's a great kid. I'm only teasing about him not talking to me, but he's focused, he really is. He's focused. I see a focused professional athlete. I don't see the crazy stuff that I hear about."
Does Leonard Fournette's running game take pressure off Minshew?
"We struggled early on running the football. Obviously, we had him coming off a good game. I think that's the challenge in this league each week. Especially like you said – two teams that are big, that are good up front. We got a lot of issues with their front seven. Those guys do a good job, the guys behind them do a good job. We feel that our guys do a good job, the guys behind our guys do a good job. It's going to be a challenge. Leonard is doing a great job. He's been playing a lot, playing more than he has in the past two years. I think he came in ready to go. He does a good job for us in the pass game. I think what gets overlooked a little bit is his pass protection. I think that's improved tremendously in the past two years. It's one of those things that if he can break a couple of tackles – because you're going to have people in place, and that's the same with everyone. Whether you make someone miss or break some tackles, that's the way you're going to gain yards, because you're not going to out-scheme anyone."
How do you help a quarterback prepare for a defense leading the NFL in sacks?
"Whatever you do, hold onto the football, and don't throw it to the other team. Very simple, trying to keep it simple."
What have you seen in Carolina's transition to a 3-4 base defense?
"It's probably going to be one of the best, if not one of the best defenses we'll face all year. I think that, from watching them on film, they're probably the most disciplined defense that I've seen. Having competed against Coach Rivera before when he was in Chicago, I would compete against Carolina in the past when I was in the south, it's just always been tough. He's got good, smart football players. You've got to take what they give you. You don't want to press. They're always going to be in the right spot. They read and diagnose extremely well. They're great with their eyes. You don't get to be where they are in the rankings without all of that. They're tough to go against. They always have been, and Coach Rivera has always been tough to go against. That's what I told our team – the offensive team. This is a really good defense. The best, if not the best, we'll play. And probably has the best discipline of any defense that we'll see all year."