The Jacksonville Jaguars finished 5-11 in 2018, following up their 2017 season that was just a few short plays of making the Super Bowl. The team made some gambles in that offseason, including things like letting Allen Robinson walk and re-signing Blake Bortles and predictably it blew up in their face. After that collapse, here is the statement that owner Shad Khan released nearly a full calendar year ago when fans were calling for firings.
I informed Tom Coughlin this week that I want him to see through our shared goal of bringing a Super Bowl title to Jacksonville. Given our overall body of work over the past two seasons, I offered to Tom that I preferred entering the 2019 season with as much stability as reasonable or possible at the top of our football operation. However, those decisions, at all times, are Tom’s decisions, and I would respect any call he made on our general manager and head coach. I am pleased that Tom sees our situation and opportunity similarly, so we will return to work this week fully confident and optimistic with Dave Caldwell as our general manger and Doug Marrone as our head coach.
I have the same trust in Tom, Dave and Doug as I did upon their introduction two years ago, and I do believe our best path forward for the moment is the one less disruptive and dramatic. Stability should not be confused with satisfaction, however. I am far from content with the status quo and while it’s best to put 2018 behind us, I will not overlook how poorly we accounted for ourselves following a 3-1 start. There were far too many long Sundays over the last three quarters of the season, with today’s loss in Houston being the final example, and that cannot repeat itself in 2019. That’s my message to our football people and players, but also our sponsors and fans, both of whom were remarkable.
I have bolded the relevant parts of the statement as it applies to 2019 and going forward.
Tom Coughlin chose to keep the band together
Per Khan’s statement, Tom Coughlin decided to run it back in 2019 with more or less swapping out Blake Bortles for Nick Foles. That ultimately didn’t work out and it predictably once again blew up in their face. Not only that, but Coughlin ended up fired last week due to excessive and egregious fines that the NFLPA ultimately deemed a violation of the CBA and advised players to consider the situation when they decide on which club to sign for in the offseason.
Shad Khan prefers stability
Khan stated that the decision on 2019 was ultimately Coughlin’s, but he preferred to keep stability. He also made mention that preferring stability doesn’t mean, as it shouldn’t, satisfaction. Over the weekend it was reported again that Khan would prefer to keep both Doug Marrone and Dave Caldwell on for 2020, to keep stability at the top.
Does that mean 2019 was satisfactory, or does it just mean he puts a huge emphasis on stability?
There were too many long Sundays
Khan mentioned that in 2019 there were too many long Sundays after a 3-1 start to 2019, meaning the team went 2-10 down the stretch of the season and it could not repeat itself in 2019.
Well, I have some bad news.
It repeated itself, even worse so.
The Jaguars have looked out coached and out matched in the vast majority of their games in 2019 and all of their wins are against either bad football teams or teams who made more mistakes than they did and allowed for some late game heroics by Gardner Minshew II.
Keeping both makes Khan’s words meaningless
Simply put; There is no reasonable reason to keep either one of or both of Marrone and Caldwell for the 2020 season. I misstated in my article last week about how everyone should be fired, in that both are on the final year of their deal. In truth, I forgot they all signed extensions after 2017, so their contracts run through 2021. Even so, it still doesn’t make it not a lame duck season with 2020 being win or else.
The simple fact is, Dave Caldwell did such a poor job as a general manager someone was hired to take over a large part of his role and now that person has been fired and the team still looks to be devoid of talent at a lot of key areas, areas they have attempted to throw money and draft picks at and failed to fix. There’s no good reason to bring Caldwell back outside of simply not wanting to make changes and valuing stability over actually winning. Caldwell’s track record as a general manager is awful, to put it bluntly.
As I mentioned before, while I think the job Marrone has done this season with everything going on is admirable, it doesn’t change the fact that the results on the field are awful. The Jaguars lead the NFL in penalties and constantly make the same mistakes week in and week out. There’s been multiple coaching decisions that were very questionable and blew up in their face, leading to some blowout losses. Simply put, he’s done a good enough job to get fired. They ended up with double-digit losses, again, which included the worst five game stretch in franchise history.
If any combination of Marrone and Caldwell are back in 2020, with the capital that the team has at their disposal to rebuild, is gross mismanagement. Not only that, but it would mean Khan’s promises to fans, sponsors, etc. after the 2018 season was a lie and means nothing.
No amount of of promises for 2020, or lined out expectations for 2020 will carry any weight if both are kept on staff. One major promise was already broken, why should we believe anything going forward?
It’s at critical mass now.