Despite being on the edge of making it to the Super Bowl just two seasons ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars find themselves in a familiar position.
It’s the worst word an NFL franchise can use in a sentence during a poor season. The Jacksonville Jaguars are about to use it in the next 12 days.
A seven-letter word that means failure, false promise and lack of production. A word that is lonely as the number one or worse – a big, fat zero. Not even 24 months ago, the Jaguars were the new darlings of the AFC, the upstart team that seemed to be poised to unseat the New England Patriots. The franchise that had Tom Coughlin steering the wheel and David Caldwell as his first mate.
Along with Doug Marrone as head coach and a defense that compared to incarnations of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks of the past, the 2017 roster was ready to begin a trail of domination on its way toward a chance at a Lombardi Trophy.
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And then, it all fell apart. Last season and the 14 games this year have produced 10 wins and 20 losses and showed fans and the local and national media that winning really does hide deficiencies within the coaching staff and the front office.
After the final game on Dec. 29 at home against the Indianapolis Colts, team owner Shad Khan has a chance to make things right again as myself and others like ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco believe should happen.
"“It seems strange to say [rebuild] considering the Jaguars was in the AFC title game two seasons ago, but the roster has significantly regressed. They never adequately replaced six defensive starters/key reserves from 2017, and interior defensive line and linebacker are two of the roster’s weakest spots,” DiRocco wrote.“They haven’t figured out tight end, and the wide receivers other than DJ Chark need an upgrade. It would be nice to find a complementary back to Leonard Fournette, too. And what are they doing with the very expensive Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew II? “"
Overhaul is another one of those “dirty” words sports teams use for disconnection and lack of communication. At the half-way point of the season, the Jaguars were 4-4 and looking forward to London for a date with the Houston Texans. It was believed a 5-4 record coming home for the bye week was a real possibility.
Then, like last season, following a 3-1 start, it all crumbled like an old apartment complex.
The Jaguars moved up in the most recent ESPN.com NFL power rankings from 28th to 26th. That’s good news since the organization has been in free-fall mode since the beginning of November. The 20-16 win over Oakland gave everyone associated with Jacksonville a chance to exhale, if only for a moment.
There is still plenty of work to be done. The two games left, if won, may not present a chance for Coughlin, Caldwell, or Marrone the opportunity to save their jobs, but winning does help momentum for next season.
"“Regardless of who is drafting and coaching in 2020, this roster needs a major overhaul, DiRocco adds.”"
This week’s opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, needs the win on Sunday as much as their opponents. Since both teams won on the west coast last week, the Battle of the Bay Area champions is on the line at Atlanta this weekend.
Knowing what is and is not at stake on Sunday, the game could be better than advertised given how everyone on both sides of the football is fighting to keep their job.