The Jaguars franchise has to be one of the most unlucky teams in the NFL. They’ve shown flashes of success here and there, only to fall off the face of the earth for multiple reasons. It must be frustrating to be a Jags fan, as the team is so bad that even Browns fans point and laugh at Jacksonville. But recently, the Jaguars have been slipping down the slippery slope like an Olympic Bobsled team, and it’s not clear as to when this franchise will turn it around.
The Jags flashed excellence in 2017, where they went to the AFC Championship Playoff game. They ultimately lost to the Patriots, and the following offseason, everyone was fully onboard the Hype-Train to Jacksonville. Instead, they finished last in the AFC South with a 5-11 record… And they’ve been laying on the floor like a drunk David Hasselhoff messily eating a sandwich.
The Fall of the Jaguars
During the 2018 offseason, all we heard about was how great this Jaguars team was going to be. Bortles was apparently “The Guy,” Leonard Fournette was going to be the best RB in the league, and the defense was supposed to be stacked. In fact, here’s a list of some of their notable transactions that offseason.
- Signed HC Dough Marrone to a 2 year extension.
- Signed QB Blake Bortles to a 3 year, $54 million extension.
- Signed G Andrew Norwell to a 5 year, $66.5 million contract.
- Signed WR Marqise Lee to a 4 year, $34 million contract.
- Signed CB DJ Hayden to a 3 year $19 million contract.
So these were the big moves the front office made in the 2018 offseason. In hindsight, it’s easy to point out that the Jaguars made some bad decisions, but during that time, it made sense for them to bring back Marrone and Bortles. But it was these decisions that helped lead the Jaguars into a dead end. It’s one thing to have a bad squad, but a front office making bad investments will devastate a franchise.
The 2017 Roster vs the 2020 Roster
The 2017 Jaguars finished the regular season with a 10-6 record, earning them a spot in the playoffs. They were the surprise team in the postseason until they met Tom Brady and the Patriots. Now, you would think that having that much success would mean the team’s roster wouldn’t change a whole lot in a 3 year time span. Don’t get me wrong, there are changes made to help improve the team each offseason, but ideally you want to keep the core group intact for as long as possible. For the Jaguars offense, only 3 guys from the 2017 team are still on the roster today. They are O-lineman, Cam Robinson, Brandon Linder, and AJ Cann. On the defensive side of the ball, only 2 guys remain. They are DT Abry Jones, and LB Myles Jack.
You mean to tell me that the group the front office brought in that nearly went to the Super Bowl has been diminished to just 5 players? That is the exact opposite of how to build a roster. You don’t have to be an expert to know that. It’s no wonder this team is so bad right now, as they have almost zero familiarity. These players aren’t given a chance to grow and learn to play together.
They Can’t Keep Talent
Time and time again, the Jaguars acquire some nice talent, only to have them leave the team. A mixture of signing the wrong guys and not being able to keep your core will do that to you, and ultimately led to the fall of this organization. Recently, the Jaguars have lost notable names like Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, AJ Bouye, Telvin Smith, Malik Jackson, Yannick Ngakoue, Leanord Fournette, and Allen Robinson. Each of these guys were either traded, cut, or retired. Long story short, the player’s who come to Jacksonville want OUT of Jacksonville.
The organization likely has a terrible culture (albeit, maybe not as bad as the Washington Football Team). In fact, it’s so bad in Jacksonville, that the NFLPA advised Free Agents and Undrafted Free Agents to avoid playing for that team if they can. If the Jags want to turn this ship around, they’re going to need to change the culture and address this issue. It’s bad business for Jacksonville, and could be something that prevents this organization from reaching success in the future. I would think the front office would be reaching out to the NFLPA in order to attempt to build a relationship and fix this problem. Considering where this franchise is at though, it may be too late.
On top of that, some of the most recent departures turned ugly to the public eye. Superstar CB Jalen Ramsey was asked which teams he wants to play for on the Bussin’ With the Boys Podcast. Ramsey’s answer included the Titans and Raiders (once they moved to Vegas). He also acted like his time in Jacksonville was done by making a gesture about the future. He did this while still under contract with the Jaguars. I’ve provided a clip of it here:
Furthermore, Yannick Ngakoue made it very public on Twitter about his displeasure with the team, demanding a trade and refusing to play for the team with or without a new contract. Then soon after Ramsey suggested to Fournette that he too should leave the organization and find a new place to play… Fournette’s answer? He actually wanted to be a Jaguar. Two days after publicly claiming his desire to stay in Jacksonville, the front office put him up on the trading block back in April. They were never able to find an offer which led to a surprise release, putting Jacksonville in a situation where they have an extremely limited amount of players to build around.
Is There Any Hope?
I know the Jags are in a really bad spot right now, but there is hope. Luckily, this front office seems to hit the nail in the NFL Draft almost every year. I mean, just look at the list of players that they’ve drafted: Allen Robinson, Leonard Fournette, Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue, Myles Jack, Josh Allen, DJ Chark, and how could I leave out Gardner Minshew? In the 2020 draft, they took CJ Henderson, K’Lavon Chaisson, and Laviska Shenault. Each of these guys have massive potential to become stars in this league. The question though: Will the Jaguars be able to keep these guys on the roster down the road?