Jacksonville Jaguars president Mark Lamping spoke with the Florida Times-Union editorial board earlier this week, in what was mainly a story about the development of Lot J downtown and where it’s at, but another comment made by Lamping drew both the focus and the ire of Jaguars fans.
“We have done a crappy job of winning,” Lamping told the Times-Union. “Hopefully we will get better. But just to sit back and say winning is going to cure everything, not in this market.”
Now, I have personally spoken with Mark Lamping multiple times and even sat in his office and interviewed him for a long form piece I worked on. I didn’t think anything of this comment and assumed, based on my experiences interacting with him, he was not saying even a winning team is not viable, so I didn’t think much of it.
A lot of Jaguars fans however, understandably, did not take it this way at all.
Lamping ended up joining the Frank Frangie show on 1010XL, the Jaguars official station, on Wednesday evening to talk about his comments and provide context to them.
“The Times ran a story today and it’s my belief that the importance that this organization places on winning for the fans has been misrepresented,” Lamping said on the show. “I’m not joining you today as part of a clarification exercise, that’s not my intent. What I want to share with you today is what I shared on Monday with the Times-Union editorial board, which was an hour and 45 minute discussion that was focused on Lot J and Shad’s [Khan] well documented commitment to downtown Jacksonville. I was invited specifically to this meeting to discuss Lot J, which makes a lot of sense, which as most people know I run the business side of the Jaguars.
“What I expressed to the TU (sic) editorial board is that Lot J is the latest initiative that we have undertaken to help deliver what’s our number one goal,” Lamping continued. “And our number one goal is a successful, financially stable NFL team in Jacksonville for as long as any of us can imagine. That was the first assignment that I received from Shad [Khan] when he purchased the team and that is we need to do everything we possibly can to change the narrative in Jacksonville and focus on how we can make sure that this well-deserving market can enjoy NFL football for a long, long time.”
The meat of the issue, at least for Jaguars fans, was Lamping’s comment about winning not being a cure-all and then the suggestion turning to that winning is not a priority for the Jaguars. Now, even as cynical as I am, having talked to both Shad and Tony Khan, I don’t feel like this is a situation where they don’t prioritize winning. The problem however, is the moves made over the past few weeks and in prior seasons, or better said the moves not made, seem to scream the opposite.
“What has been suggested regarding the importance we place on winning is totally inconsistent with not only what I expressed on Monday, but as you know, that what I have said repeatedly on these airwaves and elsewhere, including annually at our State of the Franchise, and that is not only winning the number one most important thing, but it’s also number two, number three, number four and number five,” Lamping said emphatically. “And I guess as an aside, when I have been talking about our win loss results, I have consistently saluting our loyal fans by stating, unequivocally, that they have out performed our team.
“But, in addition to winning, there are other things that we must accomplish to achieve our goal, which I said earlier is a winning, growing, well respected and stable NFL franchise here in Jacksonville. We can only get to where the Jaguars and our fans want us to be by achieving results on and off the field, and that... and I underline that, is the connection between my discussion Monday night between Lot J and the importance of winning football games,” Lamping continued. “And to isolate one side, without acknowledging the other I think is totally unfair to our fans and the Jacksonville market. One of the realities of working in sports is you are judged on your results and we certainly know and the first to acknoledge, and I think it’s very clear in regards to the comments I made that were reported in the paper, we know we have fallen short in that regard. But, I would ask please do not confuse our results with a lack of commitment to winning football games.”
As I stated before, I do believe the Jaguars want to win football games consistently and as the headline here suggests, they’re just bad at it. They’re bad at winning and to exacerbate that frustration with fans they’ve struggled with optics the past few years. For instance this season alone, not only were they bad but they also had the NFLPA issue come out. That makes it worse.
Then you have things like the owner making statements how the 2018 season wasn’t good enough and another season like that of long Sundays would not be acceptable, yet here we are in 2020 essentially running it back again after similar results in 2019. You could also make a good argument that if you really want to win on the field and the ultimate goal is a Super Bowl, you wouldn’t extend the London series because in my opinion, it’s actively detrimental. But, I get the business side of it, but often times balancing the business side with the on-field side is the most difficult.
“I would be surprised if the fan wasn’t frustrated. I’m frustrated but I go to the games for free,” Lamping told the Florida Times-Union. “We’re in the business that your record is who you are. Shad made a decision not to terminate Dave Caldwell, not to terminate Doug Marrone. I think if you had a vote of our fans they would say both of those gentlemen should have been terminated. This is a business where people get fired all the time.”
Ever since Shad Khan took ownership of the team, they’ve struggled with the same root issues and those issues are still there right now. They’ve struggled with arrogance, they’ve struggled with patience and they’ve struggled with self-evaluation and knowing when to cut bait and move on. Those issues were once again evident this offseason with the lack of changes that were made to both head coach and general manager, however as Mark Lamping said on 1010XL Wednesday, Khan knows he’s alone and out there on the decision to retain Doug Marrone and Dave Caldwell, but time will have to tell if it was the correct gamble.
I don’t think the Jaguars don’t care about winning and don’t prioritize winning, I just think they’re bad at it.