Where do the Jacksonville Jaguars go from here?

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 30: Head coach Doug Marrone of the Jacksonville Jaguars reacts in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 30: Head coach Doug Marrone of the Jacksonville Jaguars reacts in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

After a 5-11 record and the most disappointing season in Jacksonville Jaguars history, where does this franchise begin making necessaries improvements?

The image attached to this story sums up how the game on Sunday against the Houston Texans was demoralizing and explains just how bad this franchise was this year. As Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone looked at the scoreboard for a myriad of reasons, his perplexed expression said everything.  Exactly how does an organization that was on the brink of the Super Bowl less than a year ago see everything crumble before its eyes?

Changes were made in mid-season with the firing of offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and quarterback Blake Bortles being benched. While the defense played better in the second half of 2018, the offense showed it could continue its downward spiral in such a way the record books were challenged.

Going from first to worst is not how owner Shad Khan and executive vice-president of football operations Tom Coughlin thought this season would end. They were a blown whistle away from playing in the Super Bowl last season, as Coughlin will tell you.

More from Jacksonville Jaguars News

And for some odd reason, I think the players thought that as well and the hangover of the loss in New England carried over and caused a swell of issues within a locker room that at times looked fractured.

Despite the 20-3 loss to Houston and the problems that exist throughout the franchise, Coughlin, Marrone and general manager David Caldwell will be back for another opportunity, with Khan stating he wants to see the vision of a Super Bowl contender through with this trio of his staff.

Here are a few thoughts on the season that was.

The wrath of Tom – After Sunday’s debacle and Coughlin expressing his feeling about Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon sitting on the bench the entire game, the inner-workings of this franchise concerning the former LSU star’s actions this season continued to boil to the surface. Then came word the team had voided the guarantees in his contract and it became more evident the idea of Fournette playing in a Jaguars uniform in 2019 might be forgotten.

Yeldon and Corey Grant are free agents. David Williams is the only other running back on the roster. Jacksonville led the league in rushing last season. This season was a lost cause because of injuries. Fournette was the diesel engine to this offense. He sputtered because of injuries and being out of shape when he was given the opportunity to put the offense on his back.

The only way the Jaguars and Fournette can kiss and make up is for the running back to agree to come back to this team during the spring a changed player. He must be in shape, his attitude must be clear. He must take on more responsibility as a leader and he must avoid injuries. Fournette still has a chance to be one of the best running backs in the NFL, but three yards a carry won’t cut it anywhere in this league.

Staff changes – There were more firings Monday night, according to multiple sources, with Marrone letting four of his assistants go, giving more credence to the notion he is more involved in the day-to-day operation of running this organization. While Tyrone Wheatley, who coached the running backs and offensive line coach Pat Flaherty were let go, Marion Hobby the defensive line coach and Perry Fewell who worked with the defensive backs were also shown the door.

Personally, someone will have to explain the last two moves like I am a four-year-old. If your best units on your team are playing better than anyone else on the roster, why makes coaching changes in those areas?

The Jaguars must first figure out who will coach this team along side Marrone in 2019. While Coughlin swears by the notion of being a run-first offense, the team is in need of a coordinator who is not afraid to throw the ball down field. Hackett became another coordinator released in mid-season with Blake Bortles under center. Who tosses the football around the yard will also need to be addressed.

Making the right moves – Free agency should bring this team a veteran signal caller. The NFL Draft will bring a young and talented kid who needs seasoning while he learned on the sideline. The quarterback class of 2019 is not overwhelming. The free agents set to test the market don’t scream “pick me”. Nick Foles has some intrigue. Whether he leaves Philadelphia is still up in the air. If he takes them to another Super Bowl, all bets are off of Jacksonville having a chance to claim him.

Teddy Bridgewater is also a consideration, as is Joe Flacco.

The offensive line will need help on the right side. Coughlin may opt to grab a tackle with the seventh pick in the Draft depending on how this team does in free agency. Jacksonville also needs a big play-making wide receiver (or two) and help at tight end. Running back is now an issue, which leads me to think one or two will be signed this offseason.

Defensively, Jacksonville must keep Yannick Ngakoue and Jalen Ramsey here for the long term. On Monday night it was announced that Calais Campbell would remain with the organization in 2019, which may be the best move the front office makes this offseason.

Campbell is the unquestioned leader of the defense and his presence in the locker room is needed with the turnover that might occur in the coming months.

The future is now – The Jaguars are right back where they were when Gus Bradley was fired in 2016 with more questions than answers.

Marrone is the right man for the job, but his leash this season will be short. Caldwell’s return was a bit of a shock given his connection to Bortles and the fact No. 5 will more than likely not be on the roster come training camp.

Defensively, the team needs more depth at linebacker, another young pass rusher and possibly another free safety. If Todd Wash remains the defensive coordinator, he will need to change his scheme a bit, which has become predictable.

Next. The Jaguars shouldn't give up on Leonard Fournette. dark

Because of where the Jaguars pick in the first round, don’t be surprised if another pass rusher comes off the board as well. Coughlin made a living winning two Super Bowls in New York by shoring up the line. A quarterback is paramount this offseason. A change in culture is necessary. If those things happen and players are still on board with change, the road back to the playoffs might be shorter than we think.