By now you know that Jacksonville Jaguars All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey has requested he be traded to another team. That’s not really going to be the point of this discussion, but it is relevant to the whole. Ramsey held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon to address the storm of news that happened on Monday night, surrounding his agent asking the Jaguars for a trade.
Ramsey didn’t deny that he asked for a trade and it was painfully obvious by his answers and body language it was true. As the press conference progressed, all I could do was sit in amazement with a dumb grin on my face. This is the most simultaneously bizarre and interesting press conference I think I've ever seen in my life.
Prior to it starting I figured Ramsey was not going to get traded, because no team would ever put a player like that in front of a mic right before trading him. After the press conference I feel like he won’t be traded, at least any time soon and perhaps not even this season, but as the press conference continued it was clear there are underlying issues that need to be resolved and Ramsey would be perfectly content to stay a Jacksonville Jaguars player if those issues are resolved, but he declined to elaborate on exactly what those issues were.
I think we can kind of figure it out, though, and it has little to do with how big his next contract is going to be.
Ramsey wants to win, he explicitly stated as much emphatically multiple times, and he doesn’t see that as the direction the Jaguars are going. If it were just about the money and a big pay day, this issue would be easy to resolve. Make no mistake, he’s going to want to be the highest paid corner in the NFL and he should be, but he also wants to win football games and the outlook of that from the Jaguars right now is slim.
The team is just 2-14 in their last 16 games and they’re staring the Tennessee Titans in the face, who have bullied them the last few times they’ve played.
A lot of that has to do with the coaching staff and the front office and how they’ve chosen to build this team. Ramsey repeatedly mentioned his teammates in his press conference and how happy he has been for them when they get paid. He mentioned Myles Jack and how the team should pay Yannick Ngakoue, multiple times.
The Jaguars have struggled to setup a blueprint on how players get contract extensions and what rules they operate by. They’ve re-signed players like Brandon Linder before the deals were up and made them the highest paid player in the league. He’s seen them sign players like Blake Bortles to a rushed extension and even lock up players like Marqise Lee when they whiffed playing hardball with Allen Robinson. He’s seen a bunch of free agents get huge contracts, most of which didn’t workout, and the team plays hardball nickel and dimeing a guy like Yannick Ngakoue.
If a guy like Ngakoue, who until last week had never missed a game, always was a model professional and worked his ass off and produced on the field is someone the team is going to play hardball to sign, how’s it going to work out for him or the other high end players on the Jaguars roster? They rewarded guys like Linder, Lee and Bortles... why not Ngakoue?
Outside of that, he’s seen the team pass on top tier quarterback prospects like DeShaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson while riding with a struggling Blake Bortles to pick a running back and a backup defensive lineman. He’s seen the team make panic move after panic move to correct their previous panic moves.
What is the long term plan, here?
You also have the issues with the direct coaches, coordinators, etc. While Ramsey said he has nothing against any of his coaches or the front office, it’s very clear there are issues here and they’re not new. These are issues that have been bubbling for multiple seasons. They first started to crop up publicly after the 2016 season.
Remember when former safety Tashaun Gipson said he felt like a babysitter in the Jaguars secondary, sitting back in deep zone coverage? You even had former pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. mention he felt like he was a caged animal and held back in the Jaguars defensive scheme. Ramsey even mentioned he felt like he was being used incorrectly and was “caged” in the Jaguars defensive scheme. He wouldn’t endorse the defensive staff at that time.
That was back when the Jaguars fired Gus Bradley and now current head coach Doug Marrone was the interim head coach. It was before the coaching search started and before Tom Coughlin was hired. Marrone ended up the full time head coach and kept the defensive staff. The team went on to have a great season in 2017 and the defense was the best in the league, but the defensive players were still unhappy after the season, making veiled remarks about the defensive scheme again. This was after losing the AFC Championship to the New England Patriots, they still were not happy.
The team bottomed out in 2018, right after signing Blake Bortles to a big extension, but the defense was still good. They were still a top five defense but they took their veiled shots at the Jaguars inept offense. There was clear animosity there and something had to change. That should have been when the Jaguars hit the reset button, even if they planned to take a swing on Nick Foles. They should have done the full measure and cleared house, from Tom Coughlin down. They have mad panic move after panic move to correct the failed panic move and it has just continued this season.
The 2019 season is off to a disastrous start with the defense getting clowned on the first week of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs, which led to defensive coordinator Todd Wash to admit he got way too cute with the defense and ran too much zone. The team rebounded in Week 2 against the Houston Texans but there was still frustration with what the Jaguars did defensively, which led to Ramsey asking for the trade and expressing he was not being used how he felt he would best be used.
Ramsey didn’t explicitly say it, but I think it was pretty clear Ramsey made it him versus the guys who have been bumbling the franchise the past three years. I think Ramsey knows it won’t get fixed, because the only consistency the Jaguars have shown since he has been here is that they will not admit a mistake until they are absolutely forced to. Heck, they still won’t admit extending Bortles was a mistake to this day.
The Jaguars are under no pressure to trade Ramsey and I think they know that he’s not going to sabotage him on the field, because that would hurt his future a lot more than theirs, so the question is when does it become untenable?
When it hits that point, Shad Khan is going to ask himself what’s more valuable going forward for the Jaguars as a franchise: Doug Marrone, Tom Coughlin and Dave Caldwell or Jalen Ramsey.