This is going to shock many Jacksonville Jaguars fans, but I don’t think the seat that head coach Doug Marrone sits on inside TIAA Bank Field is as hot as some might think.
After an offseason of heavy lifting the current roster and off-loading veteran talent, it’s easy to see the sand in the hourglass evaporating at a pretty steady rate. But as Marrone and general manager David Caldwell spent the past five-plus months repainting the walls of this team, the lack of experience and the belief that culture change will take this team farther into the future deserves more than a 17-week audition.
Read any publication or online story regarding the NFL and rankings and you will see the Jaguars at the bottom or very close to edge of nonexistence. It’s a place this team has known all too well the previous two seasons. John Oehser of Jaguars.com has ranked this team 28th overall, which is a satisfactory position for the time being.
If Jacksonville can somehow manage to win this coming Sunday and splits the next two games with Tennessee and then Miami, this story takes on a different meaning. For now, the Jaguars are considered bottom feeders. Until they win consistently, they will remain one of the worst teams in the NFL.
But it’s not fair to place all the blame at the feet of the head coach for the troubles of the past 24 months. There are two sides to every pancake no matter how flat it is.
As Patrik Walker of CBS Sports wrote, Marrone is the first head coach who could get a pink slip in-season in 2020. His reasons are valid. And the Jaguars – based on the players who will lineup on Sunday – could have problems stopped their own personal bully, Phillip Rivers and the Indianapolis Colts.
“Ew,” Walker begins his explanation.
“Seriously, that’s the first word that comes to mind when thinking about the Jaguars, and their fanbase deserves better than what it’s been getting recently. The organization has been in an outright tailspin since appearing in the AFC Championship game following a promising (and exciting) 10-6 season in 2017. There was tons of promise for the future at that time, but it took but an instant for things to implode, and in spectacular fashion.”
Roster cuts, trades, injuries. They have all affected this franchise. Poor play on offense, with a side of porous run defense have been the calling card of this team. And while fans may not want to admit it, scoring 24 points per game in 2017 with Blake Bortles under center looks appealing right now.
The promise for the future of this organization lies at the feet of Gardner Minshew, Josh Allen, DJ Chark and other rookies and neophytes. It’s a slippery slope because the lack of veteran talent will allow for a scapegoat if the team does not show much improvement over last season.
I personally like the makeup of the roster so long as the players who were added to the organization show they are the right fit for an awkward puzzle. Marrone cannot make players settle into roles – it’s their responsibility to do that on their own as adults and members of the team.
Walker doesn’t see a light at the end of this dark tunnel like I have tried to find.
“At this point, if you can name more than two points of optimism regarding the Jaguars heading into the regular season, you’re probably Marrone trying to convince himself you’re not a part of the problem. Good luck with that,” he adds.
Based on Walker’s story and his comments, the Jaguars should be outcast like some FCS college team with no chance of mediocrity. Hopefully Marrone’s plans for this season change that.
In the meantime, the Jaguars play their first game of the season on Sunday. Let’s see if Walker’s vision is correct of the team from North Florida has a little more fight in it than some will allow this organization to have. It makes for a great underdog story. The only problem with it is the players must decide which road they choose to travel, not the coach who is already facing adversity before the kickoff of this season.