Whilst playoff football began in earnest, the Jacksonville Jaguars instead embraced the start of their offseason. With a heavy focus on the coaching staff, we look at the week in quotes:
“Change was necessary”
In case anyone is still wondering why Mike Caldwell got fired.— J5 Sports (@J5_Sports1) January 13, 2024
This play resulted in a Titans TD: pic.twitter.com/9e1p4N0pMf
The week began ominously for some members of the coaching staff. As was expected - and indeed commonplace amongst teams not making the playoffs - changes in personnel were made by the Jaguars, particularly on defense. Defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell was let go, along with the majority of his assistants; defensive line coach Brentson Buckner, passing game coordinator/cornerbacks coach Deshea Townsend, inside linebackers coach Tony Gilbert, safeties coach Cody Grimm, senior defensive assistant Bob Sutton and defensive quality control coaches Tee Mitchell and Sean Cullina.
Only two changes were made on offense, with running backs coach Bernie Parmalee let go, and the team deciding not to retain offensive line coach Todd Washington. Pederson addressed the decision to fire ten members of staff with a statement:
“Since our season’s end, I have made the difficult decision to relieve several members of the coaching staff – on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball — of their duties. I want to thank each of these coaches for their tireless efforts these last two seasons. Ultimately, I felt change was necessary to allow our football team to reach the goals for which we are capable.”
Since then, a thorough search for a new defensive coordinator has been undertaken - with six candidates interviewed to date. Eyebrows were raised in some quarters with the lack of changes made on offense considering the apparent regression on that side of the ball - there will no doubt be more to come regarding the coaching staff. Watch this space…
“Our home away from home”
The designated teams in the 2024 NFL International Games! pic.twitter.com/hqYqmtsFBu— NFL (@NFL) January 11, 2024
Friday saw the announcement of this year’s designated home teams for the NFL’s International Series. As is tradition, the Jaguars were duly named one of the franchises to host a game in London - once again preparing to run out at the iconic Wembley Stadium. Owner Shahid Khan gave his thoughts on the team’s continued participation in the series:
“We certainly owe a debt of thanks to the thousands of fans in the U.K., Ireland and throughout Europe who have made the Jaguars their NFL team since our first London home game in 2013,” said “We’ve now played 11 games in London, have forged deep relationships with fans and businesses, have introduced American football to young people that participate in our community programs throughout the U.K., and we’ve raised funds and supported causes that touch many lives. In all, we’ve established a strong Jaguars tradition in London that our fans and followers celebrate every day of the year. That tradition continues next season when the Jaguars return to London, and we can’t wait to see everyone once again in Wembley Stadium, our home away from home.”
With results gradually improving across the pond - and the Jaguars potentially playing back to back games once again in London - is the disillusionment from Jacksonville fans to their second home slowly waning? Probably not. One - or even two - more wins in 2024 would help.
“It wasn’t good enough”
2023 was a disappointment in many ways, not just for the Jaguars, but personally for most of the roster too. Running back Travis Etienne certainly felt that way; speaking to the media alongside Trevor Lawrence and Evan Engram, Etienne claimed that his seasons ‘wasn’t good enough’, expanding to say that there was never time to be satisfied in the NFL:
“I felt like I needed more. I wanted to be in the playoffs. That’s why I got into this game. That’s why I play it and that didn’t meet the requirements to be in the playoffs this year. I have to find ways to continue to improve my game, to get better, so that next year I’m in the playoffs we’re in the playoffs and we’re playing for something. I feel like there’s always room for growth. I can go on film and just look at myself and just understand where I need to get better, just things that I could continue to work on and continue to improve my game in the right atmosphere. The moment you stop learning, the moment you stop growing, you might as well say you’re finished.”
His quarterback and tight end echoed those sentiments; wholly unsurprising given the expectations the fans had of this team, and indeed the team had of themselves. 2024 represents an opportunity to right the wrongs of a year that will go down as an opportunity squandered.
“There’s not a man who cares more”
One more take on this also incorporating pass protection (through the typical relationship between pass block grade and QB efficiency from 2014-2023).— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) January 12, 2024
Purdy back on top (again this doesn't account for Shanny), but mostly posting this because look at Trevor Lawrence now! pic.twitter.com/JeMDcP1PiO
A big part of this week’s inquest into the Jaguars’ failings this season has been the performance of quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The grand conclusion is that, whilst Lawrence will be the first to admit he hasn’t played up to the high standards to which he holds himself, there were plenty of variables conspiring against him that led to the down year. No better has this been evaluated than by Gus Logue in his incredible breakdown of Lawrence’s stats, which you can read here. Regardless, it seems that - within the locker room at the very least - there is no sense of confidence wavering in the face of the franchise.
When asked about the team’s faith in their quarterback, wide receiver Zay Jones was emphatic:
“Obviously this season isn’t what any of us want, but if we’re talking individually, there’s not a man who cares more. There’s not a man who does more for his team. There’s not a man who’s in the training room more, getting worked on his body and watching film at the same time, also battling to be able to go out there and give his all. It’s a team game. He’ll receive a lot of praise and he’ll receive a lot of criticism because of the position he’s in. I don’t want to go to battle with anybody else right now, because of the relationship and the rapport that we built. Honestly, I don’t really care what anybody says about him outside of this building - Trevor is a great friend, a great leader and a great teammate.”