In 2017, the Jaguars went from worst to first and knocked the Houston Texans off the mantle as AFC South champions. On Sunday, the Texans returned the favor a year later, as they mercifully ended Jacksonville’s miserable season winning 20-3 and in turn claimed the AFC South division title after finishing last in the South a year prior.
The return of previously benched quarterback Blake Bortles did nothing to spark an anemic Jaguars offense, that has shown as much signs of life in the last half of the season as a mouse stuck in a wire trap. The Jaguars managed only two first downs in the first three quarters of play, that isn’t a typo. For as much as the offensive line was hyped as being ill-prepared to handle the Texans defense featuring JJ Watt and Jadaveon Clowney, the line mostly held up well in pass protection. Bortles, as has been the case all too many times in the last five years, was simply unable to make the throws needed to be productive enough to make a competitive game of it.
For their part, Jacksonville’s defense played a respectable game for having nothing to play for. The team pressured Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson early and often, with Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Malik Jackson, and Taven Bryan each registering sacks in the game. Campbell’s contributions pushed him to 10.5 sacks to finish the season, making him the first Jaguars player in franchise history to register back to back double-digit sack seasons. Ngakoue would finish with 9.5, falling a half sack short of accomplishing the same.
As has been the case for seemingly most of the season, however, the complete ineptitude of the offense was too much for the defensive side to carry on their own.
The game marks the almost certain end of the Jaguars careers for Bortles, Malik Jackson, T.J. Yeldon, Carlos Hyde, AJ Cann, Tashaun Gipson, and potentially several others, as the franchise will be making a multitude of personnel changes coming before the start of the league year in March.
Perhaps the biggest changes to be made will come much sooner, as we await the fates of General Manager Dave Caldwell, Head Coach Doug Marrone, and Defensive Coordinator Todd Wash. Though things are fluid and can change quickly, it is expected that Marrone and Wash will be retained, while Caldwell’s future is very much in doubt.
The Jaguars finish 2018 with a 5-11 record, and now likely to be picking between 5th and 7th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.
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