With the understanding its the second week of October and the Jaguars haven’t won anything yet, what has gone on in five games is something remarkable for the franchise.
They have done a total 180 degree reversal from years gone by, as they look and more importantly, play, like a confident strong football team.
And when you defeat the Texans, Ravens and now on Sunday, the Steelers, by an average margin of victory of almost 27 points, the rest of the NFL has to take note.
Again, at 3-2, they haven’t even had a winning season, yet, much less made the playoffs or won a post-season game, but still, let’s examine the turnaround in North Florida.
Obviously at the top, V.P. of Football Operations, Tom Coughlin is back and the tone was set by his early January hire that they days of casually accepting annual sub-par play were immediately over.
In hindsight, a smart thing that Coughlin did was keep continuity at the top. After interviewing other candidates, they stayed with interim coach Doug Marrone, who had been Gus Bradley’s assistant head coach for the previous two years. Marrone’s previous head coaching experience with the Bills and at Syracuse gave him qualification.
But bigger, he knew the staff and who whould be in position to help him. Promoting Nate Hackett from QB coach to Offensive Coordinator looks tremendous right now, as the Jags have implemented rookie Leonard Fournette successfully, and have rarely put QB Blake Bortles in position to carry the offense.
He also kept Todd Wash, a veteran NFL defensive coach, as coordinator, and this is not a misprint, Jacksonville’s defense appears to be the best in the NFL through five games. Already a franchise record 10 sack game, another franchise record five interception game (Sunday) and four defensive TDs bear that claim out.
Of course, another key component to the culture change is bringing in defensive players to help in free agency.
It cannot be overstated what adding veterans like Calais Campbell, Barry Church, and A.J. Bouye to a defense that already had young players like Dante Fowler, Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey has meant to this point.
And of course the Jags drafted Leonard Fournette and have put him in great situations in the second half to pound the opposition. He’s run for 86 yards or better in three of the five games and if they can keep him healthy, a big, big, season appears to be on the horizon.
One final time, this can all change with injuries, regressive play later, etc. but no one can dispute that the laughingstock Jags already have three blowout wins in five weeks.