ESPN released a list of the 99 people that will shape the 2017 NFL season on Wednesday and there are three members of the Jacksonville Jaguars that made the cut — Tom Coughlin, Blake Bortles, and Leonard Fournette.
Here are the players and my thoughts on each.
EVP Tom Coughlin
9. Tom Coughlin, executive VP of football operations, Jacksonville Jaguars. The clocks in the Jaguars' building are once again set five minutes fast, and Coughlin will attempt to shape the franchise as he sees fit. The question for him and new coach Doug Marrone to try to answer this year: Is Blake Bortles the answer? Jacksonville didn't draft his replacement, but that doesn't necessarily mean Coughlin is sold on him as the long-term answer. People in the building say Bortles has to prove himself to the new regime.
ESPN has Tom Coughlin under the “culture changers” category and that’s exactly what he’s been in Jacksonville. From turning around the offensive philosophy to a power running, mistake-managing scheme and putting a coaching staff in place that won’t pump sunshine and rainbows about its quarterback just because they’re the quarterback — Coughlin has never been one to shy away from molding his teams in his image.
I like Coughlin’s inclusion on this list.
QB Blake Bortles
56. Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars. Yes, they picked up his 2018 option, but that's only guaranteed against injury, and there's a new coach and head-football honcho in town in Jacksonville. Bortles is at square one with Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin, who could move on if Bortles repeats his 49.2 Total QBR season of a year ago.
Blake Bortles is in the “hot-seat watch” section of this list and it’s deserved — the former No. 3 overall pick has been disappointing so far and he’s clearly holding this roster back that, with average quarterback play, would compete for the AFC South.
RB Leonard Fournette
92. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars. Same draft spot as Ezekiel Elliott, one year later. But Fournette doesn't have Elliott's offensive line.
They have Leonard Fournette in the “Offensive Rookie of the Year” race category and I think that’s a fair place for him to be — among others like DeShaun Watson and Christian McCaffery. I think Fournette could very well lead the AFC in rushing yards this season and the expectation is that he should be the best in the division by a mile.
What do you think? Did ESPN miss any Jaguars players, coaches, or front office staff? Let us know in the comments!