After the announcement that both the general manager and head coach were returning in 2020, the Jacksonville Jaguars must become a winning team again.
As Jaguars fans and the media unpack what was said Tuesday by team owner Shad Khan, general manager David Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone, it’s clear the team did not have the season it wanted and changes must be made to ensure this kind of performance does not repeat itself in 2020.
If so, Khan should finally make the changes he talked about after the 2018 season when he gave both Caldwell and Marrone, along with former executive vice-president of football operations Tom Coughlin, another chance to fix what was wrong following a disastrous 5-11 season.
Not much changed this past campaign, although there are some nice chess pieces to work with. The 6-10 record screams for decisions to be made with the coaching staff, player evaluation and how the front office will approach free agency and the NFL Draft in April.
We keep talking about it, but 2020 is a critical year for this franchise moving forward. Fans are tired of the same complacency that exists within the organization and their lack of making the right moves to secure wins. The local media is left wondering why the issues that existed within building at TIAA Bank Field this season and potentially last, weren’t addressed sooner.
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As Caldwell said at the press conference with Marrone on Tuesday, there are holes to fill with the roster, but it is not the same situation that was presented to him when he arrived in 2013. I’d say it might be greater only because after seven seasons here in Jacksonville, more is expected.
Marrone said he feels he can get this team back to playing winning football, but until there are nine wins in the standings, that has not been proven in two seasons. His coaching staff is still under fire for their performance as well, which means there could be changes once everyone returns in the middle of January.
"“I know in my heart I can take this team to better roads and can do a better job,” Marrone said."
I wonder how this roster would look now had changes in management happened prior to this season. Would Allen Robinson still be here? Would the turmoil with the front office and Jalen Ramsey had boiled over into the biggest soap opera in the league? Would Telvin Smith played this season?
Would the defense have tumbled into the NFL abyss? Would the deal for Nick Foles ever get done and would someone else (Teddy Bridgewater or another free agent) been on the roster instead? They are all valid questions, but answers that will never be answered.
Caldwell said the communication between him and Marrone with Khan should be better this coming season because they both will report directly to him. The middle man, or Coughlin, may have made the lines of communication a bit stressed over the course of the past 24 months.
"“The biggest thing is regardless of what the past was, moving forward I’m going to have a direct line to Shad – sort of like I did earlier,” said Caldwell. “This structure here will allow us to communicate directly with the owner and be able to put our plan forward in a collaborated effort.”"
A business owner’s job is to identify issues that are hurting the product he sells. In this case, has Khan been stagnant too long for not making changes to the product on the football field? While I sound like my father while writing this (Oy Vey!) the feeling is Khan is waiting another season to make the necessary moves to ensure a better team, coaching staff and season.
It’s not as simple as that, but it’s the same concept.
Fans showed their frustration across social media with the announcement of a lack of change. While it’s a knee-jerk reaction to throw their hands in the air and claim their lack of allegiance for the hometown team, it’s also the norm here in Duval. Until there is a winning product on the field for consecutive seasons and a front office that is willing to make more moves on the chessboard, this kind of situation will continue.
Being a part of the NFL and being one of 32 cities to house a franchise is not enough. Winning does not cure everything, but it does put butts in seats and watches merchandise fly off the racks in the stores. Most of all, it makes fans smile a lot more.
I’m not sure many fans were smiling on Tuesday. It’s understandable. But they will smile if the decision Khan made to retain his front office changes the direction for the team in 2020. The Jaguars front office is already on alert – it was last season – now it’s time to see if everyone finally gets the message and change occurs for the better.