After plenty of changes to the organization this offseason, there appears to be a light of hope for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020.
The sun came out this morning over TIAA Bank Field and blanketed the Jaguars stadium as the breeze came through the trees along the banks of the St. Johns River. It was another regular Thursday, one filled with promise and the quiet streets were an awkward change from the hustle of the downtown area.
The changes in the latitude of this organization have been felt by the fan base over the past few weeks with the release of high-priced veterans and trades to clear cap space and accrue draft capital. Through all the in-season distress and off-season calamity, there is a sense of peace forthcoming. Maybe, just maybe, everything is going to be ok.
As my colleague here at Black and Teal, Kathy Clark, told me today, “I am seeing a sane plan in the free agents we are signing. When it’s all done I may have to write about it!”
Those are the kinds of things you want to hear about when covering this team. The Jaguars and I have had a love-hate relationship over the past 25 years. As the team whittles down to the youngest in the NFL, there is a path the front office is taking – to rebuild and win with youth.
It sounds ordinary enough, but it’s far from it.
The Jaguars must come close to scraping the bottom of the league’s barrel to start fresh – which is something fans who pluck down their hard-earned money don’t want to hear. But reality has set in and as the team traded both Calais Campbell and Nick Foles in just four day’s time, you see what is happening, move by move on the checkerboard.
The team’s front office is running away from the belief system of Tom Coughlin and taking another step forward as neophytes lead the way. Josh Allen, Gardner Minshew, Leonard Fournette, DJ Chark, Jawaan Taylor and potentially Yannick Ngakoue are the foundation from which this team builds for 2020 and beyond.
For now, these are baby steps.
The landscape of the NFL changed this week. Tom Brady moved on from New England and will call Tampa Bay home. Philip Rivers is now in Indianapolis to terrorize the Jaguars twice a year. DeAndre Hopkins is in Arizona. The Tennessee Titans somehow were able to keep both Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry and add defensive pieces to their roster.
The Jaguars still have a lot of work to do.
The best thing about this week’s events with player movement and free agency in all its glory is there is hope in this franchise again. It happens every year around this time. The start of the NFL season, the banter of what can be. Fans have been taken on a roller coaster ride the past two campaigns that should have left them feeling queasy. Now, the ride has slowed down a bit.
We don’t know if the Jaguars of 2020 will be better than the past two seasons, but something had to give. Fans hated seeing Campbell and Marcell Dareus and A.J. Bouye leave but this is a business first. In return, there are 12 draft picks waiting to be used in the future. Another chance to yell DUUUVAL and build momentum. Regardless of how you feel about the front office, you need to recognize this as a move for the better.
The NFL Draft is a little over a month away. The Jaguars have been on the clock for months now. Free agency may have given us a feel for how the selection process will go. It’s an exciting time. As a fan, I’m excited. As a writer, I’m ready like a cat on the Ferris wheel. Football is alive and well again.
The Jaguars could shock the world and make us all believers in change. Wouldn’t that be something?