The life of an NFL fan is one of living through the good and bad times. It is about the suffering through losing seasons so when the winning starts, and hopefully the championship banners are raised, there is appreciation for the commitment. Teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots have all measured their success against times of abject failure, rewarding their fans with consistency and Lombardi Trophies.
Being relevant gives the fan a reason to care.
Since Jeff Fisher and the Tennessee Titans defeated the Jaguars in the 1999 AFC Championship game, Jaguars fans have suffered enough losing seasons to warrant decades of NFL domination. Most recently, a brief reprieve in 2017 was followed by a crushing 2018 season. However, when a special “Mania” arouse in 2019, the stars appeared to be aligning for the better.
Entering a critical series of divisional games against the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, and those same Titans, the Jaguars find themselves riding a two game losing streak as they prepare for a trip to Nashville.
They are all but out of the playoff hunt.
Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.
If you are a fan of this team, you should be past the point of questioning whether to trust the bodies that occupy leadership positions. You should be questioning why you should even care about the final six games of the season, or the litany of picks that presently sit under the ownership of those same bodies.
Quite frankly, you should be apathetic about the whole future of the organization.
Staring down the rest of 2019, Mathematically viable should give you no comfort. Potentiality should give you no hope. After a 33-13 drubbing at the hands of the offensively limited Colts, allowing two 100 yard rushers, and appearing incapable of making plays on either side of the ball, the evidence of the season presents the Jaguars as a middling team barely struggling to be relevant.
Relevance. Ha! That presently sits on the bench.
Listening to Doug Marrone in his post-game conference should tell you exactly how your sentiment should framed moving forward. He looks, and sounds, lost, not unlike we how cheer this team on.
We got handled out there.
I’ve got to figure out a way to get this team to perform the way that they can.
We tried to stop the run a couple of different ways and we weren’t able to. We’ve got to take a good look at ourselves and figure that out.
I’ve got to do a better job getting this team ready to go.
Obviously we have a ton to improve on. We have to go back to fundamentals I guess.
The season is on the line, you have rolled the dice with the veteran quarterback, the Colts offense is wounded, and you are guessing as to why you were unable to get the players ready for this game?
The coaching staff had two weeks to prepare for the Colts. Two weeks! What did that yield?
Marlon Mack…109 yards.
Jonathan Williams…116 yards.
Williams has been in the league since 2016, missing the 2017 season, playing in a career goal of 12 games. He has carried the ball no more than five times prior to today. His most yards in a game is 26, and his longest run was 20 yards. Today he had a long of 48 yards, and averaged 8.9 ypc on 13 carries.
Remember the good old days when the team only gave up over a 100 yards to one running back? The 176 to Christian McCaffrey but only 80 to fellow Carolina Panthers Reggie Bonnafon? Or 160 yards to the Texans Carlos Hyde and just 37 to DeShaun Watson?
But this loss to the Colts should not be some grand disclosure of why you should move past disappointment. Call this the final nail in the coffin that is a series of failures that has led up to the reality that unless there is significant change at all levels of leadership there is no reason to care.
Where to start.
It is the contract given to Blake Bortles. The contract given to Myles Jack, along with the unjustifiable demand that he play middle linebacker. Having Yannick Ngakoue still playing without a new contract. Drafting a project in Taven Bryan when you needed an upgrade at quarterback, and Lamar Jackson is still on the board. Trading a 5th round pick for Carlos Hyde, releasing him, then having him excel in Houston.
Retaining Todd Wash when his defensive schemes are consistently exploited. His refusal to optimize team speed for the sake of what I can only imagine is a base defense that thinks it has the muscle to dominate at point of attack.
It is failed drafts that ensure positions like offensive guard, linebacker, and defensive tackle are grossly undermanned. That some might consider defensive tackle to be an under appreciated need is an indication that you have not been following this team close enough. Coaches and players talked about how both front lines where manhandled all day long.
And we fans say, “Again”.
Then there is pouring all that money into Nick Foles, which the leadership hoped would solve a problem they created, only to have their 6th round rookie in Gardner Minshew actually inject some life into this franchise.
Let me be very clear. This is not about Foles. Minshew is on the books for the Texans loss, the first pin pull of the playoff grenade. Nick deserved his shot to get one back in Indianapolis, and it is surely unfair to judge his potential solely on this one game.
The problem is the Jaguars had a diamond fall into their laps, and rather than letting him continue to mature as the starting quarterback, they decided the big dollar investment would give them a better shot at being a playoff team. It was an understandable decision, but in a game where Foles had to excel, he led the team to one touchdown when it mattered, and then a junk-time touchdown that ended with a 2-pt conversion interception returned by the Colts.
Pulling the exciting young talent that has the look of the future franchise quarterback for a veteran that offers nothing better just adds to the mounting evidence. Bad decision, after bad decision, after bad decision.
There is no more room for anger. For hatred. For disappointment. The arrow has moved to the worst possible place on the dial. To a place where one has simply lost hope that anything will change for the better. That the joy, for example, of watching rookie Josh Allen dominate means nothing because his talent is wasted amidst a Rushmore of incompetence.
We are resigned to indifference.
Again, this is not about Foles versus Minshew. That element of the greater problem is highlighted because of how, for seven weeks, the Jaguars were relevant, and in that relevance the fan base was inspired to believe in a future filled with better days. The loss to the Colts magnified the depth to where nothing else matters because it showed us this team is incapable of taking advantage of opportunities to be in the playoff conversation, and in Marrone’s own words he does not know how to get them ready for these big games.
So, what to do?
The fact of the matter is that it might be better to just listen to the game on the radio while you spend time working in the yard, fixing up the house, or spending time with your kids at a local park. Maybe they can go on a six game win streak, but I am at the point to where I just do not care.
Who is being entertained?
Change who is in charge. Give me something to believe in, showing that this team can be relevant. Give me a reason to care.