By HCR Staff | September 4, 2020
Doug Marrone was elevated to Jaguars’ head coach in 2017, and in a magical inaugural campaign, he had the franchise 10 minutes away from its first Super Bowl appearance. Even though the team succumbed to (another) ridiculous performance by Tom Brady in the AFC Championship tilt, the future looked exceedingly bright for the Jags.
The defense was full of young, talented players, and QB Blake Bortles appeared to finally justify his lofty draft position.
Since then, however, the Jags have imploded. They’re 11-21, and have finished last in their division in 2018 & 2019.
And now the Jags have embarked on a campaign to essentially offload nearly all of the talent that played in that 2017 AFC Championship.
We’ve rarely witnessed this kind of dismantling in the modern NFL; sure, teams have had to re-tool, but that’s because, generally speaking, they’re looking to push out older veterans in favor of new talent.
The Jags, on the other hand, have been dealing away some of the best young talent in the game. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey (age 25), DE Yannick Ngakoue (age 25), and cornerback AJ Bouye (age 29) have all been traded. RB Leonard Fournette (age 25) was released. WR Allen Robinson (age 27) was allowed to walk in free agency.
What can explain this?
From our vantage point, it looks as if the chemistry in the locker room and all the way to the front office simply was toxic. And if you have toxic chemistry, there isn’t going to be any trust, and without any trust, negative feelings have room to grow.
The result is an entire organization with a rotten culture.
Who wants to go to work in that kind of environment?
Not many talented young players, that’s for sure. Every NFL career is on the shorter side, and the thought of spending precious days of your youth driving into a bitter, dark professional environment simply isn’t appealing.
So who’s to blame, and is the current course a better one?
The blame goes to everyone at the top of the organizational chart: owner Shad Khan, former Executive VP of football operations Tom Coughlin, GM Dave Caldwell, and Marrone. Each had their role, and it was decided that Coughlin would be fired for all their collective sins.
So now the Jags look to be starting over. They have a lot of young players who know nothing of past dysfunction. That’s a start, and in our view, the right one.
However, it remains to be seen if Marrone and Caldwell should have been jettisoned as well. Not many people in the business get the shelf life they’ve been given, particularly under the circumstances. Marrone will be helped by Jay Gruden’s presence; he’s a veteran coordinator and a good one at that. We aren’t the biggest fans of defensive coordinator Todd Wash, and we foresee a lot of early season miscues on that side of the ball. Thankfully the scheme isn’t difficult to learn.
In the end though, we do agree with their current approach. The entire locker room needed fumigating, but if progress isn’t noticeable by the end of the season, Marrone and Caldwell should be next to go.