It’s the Sunday of the Divisional round of the AFC Playoffs for 2019, and one franchise in particular has to be wondering how they fell so far, so fast in 12 months. That would be the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After storybook turn around 2017 season that saw them make the playoffs for the first time in 11 years by winning the division. And then, saw them winning a bizarre Wildcard game at home over the Buffalo Bills. Next, the Jaguars took on the Pittsburgh Steelers that cold January Sunday at Heinz Field in that Divisional-round game.
When it was all said and done RB Leonard Fournette (above) had hammered home two touchdowns, the Jaguars defense scored on a LB Telvin Smith fumble return and QB Blake Bortles played well enough in spots, and the Jags shocked the Steelers to advance to the AFC Championship game.
And while Jaguar fans can remember that fondly for a long time to come, it’s still disappointing, disheartening if not downright depressing with what the Jaguars became over the course of the last 52 weeks
Let’s take a look at a quick list for insight:
Fournette, who was such a devastating runner for so long in his rookie year and the postseason last year, was basically an afterthought in 2018. Injury sidelined him for eight full games. He was also suspended by the NFL for another game for his involvement in a fight in the November game in Buffalo.
His standing with the team is uncertain, as we head into the offseason. And, don’t be surprised if the Jaguars look to try to deal him before the draft, as they could get a premium draft pick in return.
52 weeks after playing well throughout the regular season and good and, at times, great play in that win over the Steelers, Blake Bortles unraveled completely as 2018 unfolded. He was benched late in the year by coach Doug Marrone and it appears his days in Jacksonville are over.
12 months after battling the Steelers in the divisional round, the luster is off the season Doug Marrone put together as the full-time head coach in Jacksonville. Not only was Fournette injured and a headache, but DB Jalen Ramsey was also an off-the-field headache. And between that and Marrone benching Bortles and firing offense of coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, there was a lot of turmoil and controversy on-and-off the field.
Needless to say, Marrone has to make a good hire for offensive coordinator soon and the Jaguars better come out firing at the beginning of this season or he’s likely going to be gone as as quickly as he rose, as the Jaguars coach.
Speaking of Ramsey, the former top-five pick who was an All-Pro last season, created headaches and controversy off the field in training camp with his involvement in teammate DE Dante Fowler’s altercation with fellow defensive line mate Yannick Ngakoue. That got both Fowler in Ramsey suspended for a week in the preseason. Fowler got traded to L.A. Rams in October.
Ramsey also made a bunch of controversial and inflammatory comments about opposing quarterbacks in an August article with GQ Magazine that had to infuriate VP of football Tom Coughlin and everyone with the organization.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported in November that the Jaguars would look into trading Ramsey in the offseason and while the team denied it, you have to think of that will be on the table as well, because at some point, your talent and contribution on the field can be outweighed by the headaches you’re causing in the locker room or off the field.
52 weeks after enjoying such postgame success, owner Shad Khan and his son Tony don’t have playoff football this January. So instead, they have dived into a professional wrestling venture.
Yes, professional wrestling.
Tony Khan and those involved with AEW wrestling held a “launch premier” for fans and media last week. And almost comically, Marrone was required to be around and wave to the crowd the other night. Something that he, and almost no one else, would have fathomed a year ago that they would be doing in January instead of playing in playoff games.
With the understanding that the Jaguars still have some pieces in place, can get their act together and potentially, become a playoff contending team again, there’s a real reality in all of the above.
And that is: everything fell right in almost a “positive perfect storm” for Jacksonville in 2017 to get them to that Divisional round playoff win in Pittsburgh 12 months ago.
And the proof of just how much it all went so right a year ago, is how it all went so wrong, so fast, a year later.
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