The rain was falling in Jacksonville. The wind was gusting. The penalty flags were flying during an unsightly first half. And even Tom Brady decided that he couldn’t keep watching on TV as the Jaguars hosted the Tennessee Titans in a “Thursday Night Football” slop-fest eventually won by Jacksonville, 20-7.

“I’m turning off this game,” the six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the New England Patriots wrote on Twitter during the first half. “I can’t watch these ridiculous penalties anymore[.]”

When Brady’s social-media protest was mentioned on the NFL Network broadcast, analyst Troy Aikman said: “I agree. This is ridiculous.”

The early stages of this NFL season have been, in part, about the officiating, and Brady lodged his complaint as a viewer.

“Too many penalties,” Brady wrote on Twitter before his pledge to tune out. “Just let us play!!!!”

Perhaps Brady’s public admonishment had an effect. Not a single penalty was called during the third quarter before there was a flag on the opening play of the fourth quarter. The Titans were penalized nine times for 101 yards in the game, with seven of those penalties coming in the first half. The Jaguars were penalized four times.

What did Brady miss if, indeed, he stopped watching? The Jaguars got their first victory of the season after their 0-2 start. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew continued to thrive while filling in for injured starter Nick Foles. He threw a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes and the Jacksonville defense took it from there.

Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey was in the lineup four days after his sideline disagreement with Coach Doug Marrone. Ramsey subsequently requested a trade. He was beaten Thursday night for one long catch. But that was one of the few highlights for Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was sacked nine times. This was the return of the “Sacksonville” defense that carried the Jaguars to the AFC title game in the 2017 season. Calais Campbell had three of those sacks Thursday night.

Ramsey said earlier in an “Uninterrupted” podcast with Nate Burleson that he asked for a trade because “some disrespectful things” were said to him in a postgame meeting Sunday with team officials.

“Some disrespectful things were said on their end that made me definitely walk out and call my agent as soon as I walked out,” Ramsey said on the podcast, according to Profootballtalk. “I said, ‘It’s time. My time is up here in Jacksonville.’ I said, ‘I want to ask for a trade.’ I was truly at peace, like I wasn’t in a mind-set of making a decision while I was angry. I was completely calm. I still stand by that decision to ask for a trade.”

The Jaguars have an interesting decision to make. Ramsey has proclaimed himself the NFL’s top cornerback, and he might be right. There has been speculation that the Jaguars want a pair of first-round draft picks in any trade. But if the Jaguars deal Ramsey, it would amount to an acknowledgement that they’re giving up on this season.

Would they really do that now, after Thursday’s powerful performance by the defense? Would they do that with Minshew playing far better than any rookie who was a sixth-round draft choice rightfully should be just two starts into his NFL career?

“It all starts with the belief in yourself,” Minshew said on the NFL Network’s postgame set.

Minshew clearly has that, and now his teammates and the fans in Jacksonville seem to believe in him as well. The Jaguars’ hopes for a revival this season, after last season’s 5-11 calamity, were pinned to the arrival of Foles as a free agent. The season seemed like a lost cause when the former Super Bowl MVP for the Philadelphia Eagles suffered a broken left clavicle in Week 1 in his Jaguars debut. But Minshew is playing well, and he said that the Ramsey situation actually could galvanize the Jaguars.

“Adversity, it can tear you apart or it can bring you together,” he said when asked during his NFL Network appearance about the team’s reaction to Ramsey’s trade demand.

There was no such optimism Thursday night for the Titans. They scored only on a fourth-quarter touchdown run by tailback Derrick Henry and have two straight losses since a lopsided victory at Cleveland to open the season. A failed fourth-and-six gamble at the Jacksonville 11-yard line by Coach Mike Vrabel in the third quarter didn’t help, either.

Mariota is in the final season of his contract and is playing to convince the Titans to keep him in their long-term plans. Tennessee has an experienced backup in former Miami Dolphins starter Ryan Tannehill. A quarterback switch could become an option at some point for Vrabel.

So, yes, there was plenty going on Thursday night, even if the football was far from elegant. Someone will need to tell Tom Brady about it.


Odd move by Marrone: Marrone, oddly, left his offense on the field on fourth and goal from the Tennessee 4-yard line. A field goal would have upped the Jaguars’ lead to 16 points, forcing the Titans to get two touchdowns and two two-point conversions to tie. The fourth-down try failed. It probably won’t matter but it was a curious move by Marrone. (Jaguars 20, Titans7 with 3:28 left in the 4th quarter)

Eight sacks for Jags: The Jacksonville defense sacked Mariota on consecutive plays to force a Titans’ punt. Mariota has been sacked eight times in the game. Calais Campbell has led the way for the Jaguars with three. (Jaguars 20, Titans 7 with 4:38 left in the 4th quarter)

Lambo connects again: Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo connected on his second field goal of the night, a 48-yarder, as Jacksonville upped its lead to 13 points midway through the fourth quarter. (Jaguars 20, Titans 7 with 7:34 left in the 4th quarter)

Titans finally score: Tennessee is on the scoreboard, at last, with Henry’s one-yard touchdown run. The Titans trail by 10 points early in the fourth quarter. And now thoughts turn to Vrabel’s failed fourth-and-six gamble in the third quarter. If Tennessee had gotten a field goal then, it might be a one-possession game at this point. (Jaguars 17, Titans 7 with 12:04 left in the 4th quarter)

Jags extend lead: Jacksonville increased its lead to 17-0 on a 40-yard field goal by Lambo. It should have been 21-0 but wide receiver Dede Westbrook dropped what should have been Minshew’s third touchdown pass of the night. (Jaguars 17, Titans 0 with 7:54 left in the 3rd quarter)

Ramsey beaten but Titans fail on fourth down: The Titans had a scoring chance when wide receiver Tajae Sharpe beat Ramsey to catch an on-target throw from quarterback Mariota on a third-and-11 play. But the frustrations continued for Tennessee. Vrabel left his offense on the field for a fourth-and-six try from the Jacksonville 11-yard line, but Mariota was sacked by Campbell. Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack left the field during the drive and was being examined, apparently for a possible head injury, in the medical tent on the sideline. (Jaguars 14, Titans 0 with 8:22 left in the 3rd quarter)

Halftime in Jacksonville: Ramsey is playing. Minshew is doing his thing. The rain is falling. The penalty flags are flying. And the Jaguars, at last, are looking like they hoped to look all season. They lead the Titans, 14-0, at halftime on a wet, windy night in Jacksonville as they seek their first victory of the season after an 0-2 start. Minshew, the rookie quarterback filling in for Foles, threw a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes. The Jaguars defense has taken it from there, shutting down Mariota and the Tennessee offense, which had just 108 total yards in the first half. Ramsey, the NFL’s self-proclaimed best cornerback, is playing — as promised — for the Jaguars even after requesting a trade following last Sunday’s game. Ramsey had a sideline disagreement Sunday with Marrone but said Thursday in an “Uninterrupted” podcast with Nate Burleson that he asked for a trade because “some disrespectful things” were said to him in a postgame meeting with team officials. This game mostly has been about the penalties. It’s an all-too-familiar NFL flag-fest, with the Titans being penalized seven times in the first half. (Jaguars 14, Titans 0 at halftime)

More questionable officiating: The officiating has been a major issue in the early stages of this NFL season. It came into focus again Thursday night when Tennessee’s Kamalei Correa was called for roughing the passer on a seemingly clean and legal hit on Minshew. It didn’t help the Jaguars, though, as they ended up punting on the drive on which penalty was called. The Tennessee offense needs to get moving. The Jaguars defense has been dominant so far on this rainy night in Jacksonville. (Jaguars 14, Titans 0 with 11:29 left in the 2nd quarter)

Two TD passes for Minshew: The Jaguars are off to a great start. They forced a punt by the Titans and struck quickly for Minshew’s second touchdown pass of the night. Minshew made a great throw to the sideline to wide receiver Westbrook for a 28-yard gain to set up the touchdown. Then he dropped in a perfectly placed lob to wideout D.J. Chark for the 22-yard score. Minshew has thrown for 78 yards on five-for-six passing so far. (Jaguars 14, Titans 0 with 6:36 left in the 1st quarter)

Early TD for Jags on turnover: The Jaguars were called for holding on the game’s first offensive play and ended up having to punt. But that worked in their favor when Tennessee’s Adoree’ Jackson mishandled the football on the punt return. The Jaguars recovered and cashed in quickly with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Minshew to tight end James O’Shaughnessy. (Jaguars 7, Titans 0 with 13:02 left in the first quarter)

Postgame Reading

That seems like such a long time ago now.

The Jaguars have unraveled since then, going 5-11 last season and getting off to a 0-2 start this season, even after adding quarterback Nick Foles as a high-priced free agent. Now they’re dealing with a trade request by cornerback Jalen Ramsey as they try to get into the win column for the season by hosting the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football.

Ramsey is scheduled to play Thursday night. He said this week that he wanted to play against the Titans if he remained on the Jaguars’ roster Thursday. There has been speculation that the Jaguars are seeking two first-round draft picks in a potential trade, and Ramsey undoubtedly would want a hefty contract extension from any new team. He is signed through the 2020 season after the Jaguars picked up the fifth-year option in his rookie contract.

He has proclaimed himself the league’s top cornerback, and he very well might be right. His trade request came after he and Coach Doug Marrone had a sideline disagreement last weekend. If the Jaguars do trade Ramsey, it could signal that they would be all but surrendering on a 2019 season that began with high hopes of returning to top-contender status.

Foles, the former Super Bowl MVP for the Philadelphia Eagles, was signed to a four-year, $88 million contract in March to replace Blake Bortles as the Jaguars’ quarterback. But he suffered a broken left clavicle during the season opener, and the Jaguars have turned to rookie Gardner Minshew II. The sixth-round draft choice from Washington State has played well, throwing for 488 yards and three touchdowns since Foles was hurt. But the Jaguars’ lofty aspirations for this season were pinned to Foles, not Minshew.

The Titans enter with a record of 1-1 after following a lopsided season-opening triumph at Cleveland with a Week 2 defeat at home to the Indianapolis Colts. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is off to a good start, with four touchdown passes and no interceptions in the two games. He’s eligible for free agency after this season and is attempting to prove that he should be in the team’s long-term plans. A road victory for Tennessee on Thursday would keep the Titans in the early-season conversation in the AFC South and would push the Jaguars further toward irrelevance.

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