It is December and in North Florida there is no real optimism for the 2-10 Jaguars, as they get set to host the Vikings Sunday. It’s obvious at this point that head coach Gus Bradley and staff will be out in a month, and the likely hood is there will be a bunch of personnel changes too.
But, here’s the real dilemma for Jacksonville: You have professionals on and off the field who are going to try to win. Also, there are some players realize this is there best hope to make an impression on tape for whomever comes in to coach the Jags or if they have hope of making another roster. Then again, there will be more than a few who will mail it in and make “business decisions,” on going hard the last few weeks.
But the overall dilemma is: a win or two at this stage only hurts the Jags status in the top 2-4 pick of the upcoming draft. At the moment, the Browns at 0-12 and the 49ers at 1-11 are in front of them. (And by the way, they both need QB’s). And just behind are the Jets and the Bears at 3-9 and you guessed it, will also be looking at solutions for quarterback.
So, do you really want to win a third or fourth game down the stretch here, when it will not save your coach and when it’s obvious now that QB Blake Bortles with his flawed mechanics and lack of development will likely be on the way out, with them?
This is the stark reality that faced the at the time 2-10 Buccaneers two years ago. Obviously, that college season, there were two bonafide stars in Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota waiting for the Bucs and the Titans. The Bucs were trying to win a third game up until the final one, when they clearly pulled all of their starters in the second half of the finale’ with the Saints, lost to finish 2-14 and got the #1 pick and later, Winston.
There isn’t one QB in the “franchise” category for the numerous teams that want to select one next April. You can make the case that Clemson’s Deshaun Watson will be a spectacular dual threat option for someone, but do you take him in the top 5? Not sure about that.
And the rest of the QB’s in college aren’t overwhelming with size and NFL prospects. Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma? Joshua Dobbs of Tennessee? Sorry, not buying those. Now Dallas and Seattle both found gems recently in the 3rd and 4th round with Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott, but that is rare in this day and age.
Never mind that you want to be picking as high as possible after the draft takes it’s overnight hiatus from the first to the second round to get the player they want. Or, you will be in prime position for a nice trade from someone who wants to leap up at the top of round 2.
So, the Jags will trudge on Sunday and maybe win, which will give their dwindling fan base some happiness for a little while.
But in the end, after a miserable last 2-3 years and already 2-10 start to this year, you aren’t helping yourself long term by being 3-13, much less 4-12.
Such is the quandary in Jacksonville.