The Dallas Cowboys, through divine intervention or dumb luck or hubris on the part of Jerry Jones or some combination of all three, passed on star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Not even Dave Caldwell could look a gift horse in the mouth.
Myles Jack was the second round pick, despite injury concerns that turned out to be false flags, and he flourished as an outside linebacker in his first two seasons.
Yannick Ngakoue was an outsider to many and a bold move in the third round that has paid dividends far beyond his investment.
This was the young nucleus of defenders that would help Jacksonville get back on track. And for a season... they did. These three, along with key free agent additions, brought this team to the doorstep of the Super Bowl in 2017.
And now two years later, one got out, another is floundering in a changed position to middle linebacker, and a third is publicly asking to leave. What the hell happened?
It’s absolutely insane to think that a franchise not actually trying to be bad is this dysfunctional. It’s impressive, I guess, but in the same sort of way as when you see your toddler throw up more than you’ve seen him eat all week.
But that’s what happens when you have a front office leader in Tom Coughlin, the man who was publicly condemned by the NFL Player’s Association like an old, crumbling warehouse.
And when you give Dave Caldwell, the man who made backups and rotational players like Luke Joeckel, Blake Bortles, and Dante Fowler first round draft picks, more chances than he deserves.
And — most of all — when an owner like Shad Khan can’t be held accountable for unrealistic revenue expectations, greed, incompetence, and an inability to focus on what is now a $2 billion franchise.
We’ve had the front office dressing down star players after losses, publicly announcing that Pro Bowl players aren’t doing enough to warrant a long-term contract, outbidding themselves on high-priced quarterbacks that still haven’t won a game, letting wide receivers hit free agency when their backups couldn’t carry a fraction of their water, and spending precious salary cap space re-signing players who, frankly, just did not deserve it.
Their few good players can’t wait to get out. Their plentiful bad players are receiving tens of millions in contract guarantees. Their seven home games in Jacksonville has now become six. Their front office has (largely) been kept in tact despite averaging fewer than five wins a season since 2012.
Ngakoue, in announcing he doesn’t want to stick around in Jacksonville long-term, is just the latest example. It’s not his fault he got drafted by what has become a laughingstock franchise, but he’s not going to wait around while the Jaguars see if the hole they’re digging can get any deeper.
And I don’t blame him.