Not only does Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew have to prove he can win in 2020, but he must also help head coach Doug Marrone keep his job.
After a soap opera season that ended at 6-10 and an overhaul of the defense this offseason, it is the man with the mustache who must work magic to make the Jaguars a contender in 2020 – or at least show enough progress that Marrone and his coaching staff aren’t handed pink slips instead of Christmas presents.
This might be the most important year in the team’s history – but we have talked about that for 24 months already and with each word I type about this story, the growing sentiment continues to be that anything less than 8-8 will force team owner Shad Khan to finally make a change many thought should have come after the 2018 debacle on the St Johns River.
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“Khan called the 2019 season “unacceptable,” particularly spotlighting the five-game losing streak in which Jacksonville lost by a combined score of 174-57. In the last of those five losses — a 45-10 snoozer against the Chargers — Philip Rivers was mic’d up and talking (stuff) out on the field like he was Chris Jericho,” writes Adam Rank of NFL.com.
I was there in person to watch the Chargers game, which was more like watching sandlot football with someone like Johnny Utah picking apart a defense with holes the size of craters that I could have walked through.
You cannot win football games like that in the NFL.
There are expectations this year that hopefully, Gardner Minshew, Marrone, and team general manager David Caldwell can live up to. Honestly, Caldwell is probably safe regardless of the situation in Jacksonville, with his contract running through 2021. Minshew is the target now – with the national media still looking for someone, really anyone, coming off the free-agent market to replace him.
Still, the Jacksonville Jaguars live by the “In Minshew We Trust” vibe that was so evident last season when inexplicably won six games for a team that at times was worse than its record indicated.
Marrone has been at the epicenter of the changes in Jacksonville over the last year because, and to be honest, he was the only one who stood in front of the media week after week and explained how the team wasn’t doing the best job and he himself wasn’t doing a good enough job. Now, with Khan giving him another chance, Marrone MUST do a good enough job to keep his place in the Jacksonville Jaguars front office.
“If you know me, you know I love when coaches get one more chance to prove themselves. (Well, I haven’t written the Jets installment of this series yet, so maybe I should be careful about making such a blanket statement …) Marrone has experienced a pretty interesting career since he opted out of his contract with the Bills,” Rank added. “I would imagine it hasn’t gone the way that he’s wanted it to. And here he is, at another potential crossroads. But he has a young quarterback, some raw talent on defense and two new assistants of note (Jay Gruden and Ben McAdoo). Let’s ride!”
Even if it is not the most improved season in the team’s history, it could prove to be one of the most interesting. Moving on from key veterans. Not opting for another veteran quarterback. Giving defensive end Yannick Ngakoue a stone-cold poker face and knowing everything is riding on the arm of a second-year quarterback who continues to excel when the football world is against him.
Yes, let everything ride with the Jaguars this season. They could be the most entertaining team on and off the field this season, and that says nothing about whether a playoff berth is even possible in 2020.