As stands right now in the 2019 season, the Jacksonville Jaguars are sitting at 4-8 with their season more or less over at a top end of 8-8. It seems inevitable on Black Monday after the season that the Jaguars will make sweeping changes not only on their coaching staff, but in the front office. At this point, I’d be shocked if anyone on the staff or front office is back for the 2020 season. You just can’t bring anyone back who even had a slight hand in the mess.
There are many mistakes that this regime has made, even prior to Tom Coughlin being hired as the executive VP of football operations, essentially giving him the “con” in the building and over the roster as a whole.
Ultimately, through all of their mistakes, their fatal flaw was the inability to admit them. Not only did they fail to admit them, but the majority of the time they ended up compounding them by trying to mitigate the mistake and make it work, rather than just seeing it for what it was and moving on.
As we know now, Blake Bortles was a bad pick as the team’s franchise quarterback. Typically that alone gets a front office fired, but the likes of Dave Caldwell got lucky with the hiring of Coughlin and got second life. The problem with that however, was that it allowed the Jaguars to try to save the Bortles draft pick after an atrocious 2016 season, where it seemed very clear he was not the answer at the quarterback position.
The first big compounding mistake took place in that first draft where Coughlin was in charge. The Jaguars were in prime position to take Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes, as insurance to Bortles not working out in 2017, but instead Coughlin was set on drafting a running back to ease the pressure on their struggling quarterback. The prevailing thought was they could hide Bortles and be a power run team that would play good defense and to their credit, it worked.
The problem was, that wasn’t sustainable and the success in 2017 made them get too big of a head. What they did worked, so why would they change? The issue with that thought is, even if it works that doesn’t mean it’s sustainable. If you did an objective self-evaluation of the 2017 season, you would know that it wasn’t sustainable and you should not bank on getting the same level of play, which to be perfectly honest was bang average, out of the quarterback going forward based on his history.
Again, you’re at a situation where you need to have a Plan B in case it doesn’t work and the Jaguars seemingly went the complete opposite of that. Not only did they once again pass on a potential quarterback (Lamar Jackson) that fell in their lap, they made a pure luxury pick in drafting another defensive lineman, despite their needs across the board. To compound that, a few months prior they handed that iffy quarterback a new contract that essentially locked him in for two years at least, unnecessarily.
The team absolutely did not need to give Bortles a new contract and they’re feeling the ramifications of that now. Not only did that deal not work out, but it forced the front office into making a quick panic move to try to fix that mistake that they apparently and unfathomably, did not see coming. That move has now been benched after being absolutely dreadful and it appears to be another albatross that whoever the new regime will be to handle.
I’m not going to go through all of the head scratching panic moves this regime has made during just the last three years alone and not even go back to the years prior to 2017, but just looking at the Carlos Hyde trade, cutting Marcedes Lewis, the Nick Foles signing, the Marqise Lee signing, the Leonard Fournette pick (who has turned out a solid player, BUT...), etc. The team just continuously made questionable gambles with high risk and they absolutely blew up in their face.
Then you have to combine all of those mistakes, most of which a lot of people called as likely huge mistakes prior to the moves being official, with the toxic environment that has seemed to steep into the building and into the locker room. There are a number of situations that happened where it makes you wonder if they would have manifested had owner Shad Khan just made the decision to wipe it clean when he should have in 2016 or 2018.
That’s the other big compounding mistake is you kept a lot of the people who ultimately failed and gave them the chance to correct their own mistakes, however the problem is that they waited entirely too long to admit they were actually mistakes. Even to this day a lot of the people in the building won’t admit some of their most egregious mistakes.
What makes the great franchises great is they have the ability to self-evaluate and they don’t make panic decisions to cover up their mistakes rather than just fix them. They tried way too hard to prove that their mistakes weren’t mistakes until they just could not wag the dog any longer and ultimately, that was the problem and their downfall.