The future of the Jacksonville Jaguars depends on Tom Coughlin remembering the greatest success of his past and doing one thing.
The saga of Jalen Ramsey and the Jaguars can be reduced to Coughlin’s old-school sensibilities about team building juxtaposed against Ramsey’s freewheeling approach to life as a professional athlete.
That’s the obvious take based on Coughlin’s history. Coughlin, Jacksonville’s executive vice president of football operations, is 73 going on 800. His approach to football would make dinosaurs shake their heads in disbelief.
At least that’s what everyone in the football world would like to believe.
That reputation does come honestly. Coughlin doesn’t tolerate fools. He is all business, a man incapable of walking away from the game because he basically has no hobbies. Literally none.
The latest bit of news to confirm that is the report by FOX’s Jay Glazer that a meeting between Ramsey and Coughlin went poorly last week, prompting Ramsey to ask for a trade. This week, Ramsey reiterated his desire for a trade and missed the week of practice with a variety of issues. Ramsey was sick, hurt and then left Jacksonville to attend the birth of his second child.
At the same time, Ramsey is a cornerstone player in the building of any roster. He’s the best in the NFL at what he does, the Jaguars have him under contract for this year and then control the next two, giving them ample leverage to get a deal done.
But Ramsey has a tendency to go off script and talk big, a trait Coughlin dislikes. He has trashed opposing quarterbacks and taken few prisoners along the way.
And the fact is, that Jacksonville needs Ramsey as a player and as a promoter. Aside from the recent (and likely fleeting) fascination with backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, Ramsey is Jacksonville’s greatest hope to both win and become relevant.
Ramsey changes Xs and Os. There are perhaps 20 players in the NFL with his ability at any given time. With guys like that, you find a way to make it work. Bill Belichick did that with guys like Lawrence Taylor and Ty Law on his way to his first five Super Bowl rings.
Furthermore, what Ramsey does is not especially problematic. He’s not in any trouble. He isn’t a distraction to teammates and, up to now, didn’t miss practice. This is not Antonio Brown.
Ramsey is just a big talker in the vein of Deion Sanders. Ramsey also knows he has leverage and isn’t afraid to say so.
Deal with it, Tom, just like you did before.
As much as Coughlin is a control freak, his greatest success was ignited by his change of temperament in 2007. Changes that ignited the first of two Super Bowl runs Coughlin led in New York. That year, Coughlin worked hard to be able to laugh at himself instead of constantly sparring with his players and worrying about the thousand little rules he had.
In Coughlin’s first three years with the Giants from 2004 to 2006, he would fine players for an array of silly things. If you were 10 minutes early to a meeting, you were fined for being late. If you cut off the sleeves on your practice t-shirt, you got fined. If you asked for an explanation for why you got fined, you got fined again.
Coughlin had constant battles with star players, including running back Tiki Barber, defensive end Michael Strahan and tight end Jeremy Shockey. Barber quit before the 2007 season, openly tired of Coughlin’s style. The media called for Coughlin’s job.
Then Coughlin took the advice of players and management (chiefly owner John Mara) and learned to laugh at himself a little bit. He would smile more at practice and make fun of himself. One day in the locker room, he tripped as he was walking.
The next day, players had put tape on the floor to mark where Coughlin fell as if it was the outline of a dead boy. Coughlin saw the outline and laughed.
It was a small thing, but it went a long way. Players felt like they could breathe around Coughlin. Playing and coming to work became fun again. That season became a huge success in part because Coughlin let the players be themselves.
He needs to do that again.
Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue hinting he’s gone again?
One of the key free-agent questions for the Jaguars continues to be whether or not they’re going to allow their best pass rusher, Yannick Ngakoue, to test the free-agent market coming up? And, once again, the player may be giving a clue that he’s going to do just that.
Ngakoue tweeted Wednesday morning the following phrase, which seems to indicate, yet again, that he will be playing somewhere else in 2020:
— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) February 26, 2020
This goes along with something that we wrote earlier in January. That’s when just a couple of days after the season Ngakoue posted essentially a goodbye message to Jaguar fans. This came on the heels of him having held out for a new contract for the first few days of training camp last August, but not receiving a new deal during the season, etc.
Ngakoue, whose 37.5 career sacks are the most by a Jaguars player after 63 career games, is sure to be a sought-after player from many different teams. GM Dave Caldwell said at the end of the season when asked about re-sgning his star pass rusher, “He is a tremendous player and even a better person. How he handled his business this year was tremendous. But, I would say that’s priority No. 1, to make sure he comes back to Jacksonville. Hopefully, we can get that done. ″
It’s also worth noting that at Tuesday’s NFL Scouting Combine at media availability in Indianapolis, coach Doug Marrone repeated that he wants Ngakoue to remain in Jaguars teal and white:
Doug Marrone: ‘’No doubt where I stand or the coaches.”
—They want Yannick Ngakoue back. pic.twitter.com/vOorH4hH95
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 26, 2020
However, it remains to be seen if Marrone and Caldwell are willing to “pony up” huge money for him or even potentially, put the franchise tag on him before free agency begins next month?
Ngakoue figures to want a contract close to what the top ends are getting paid right now. Demarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark both signed five-year, over $100 million deals in 2019 and received guaranteed money that exceeded $62 million. That is massive for Jacksonville.
If the Jags opt for the “franchise tag,” then the talented end will be making around $19 million dollars, which is the current average of the top five players at his position. The Jaguars could also put the tag on him and then work on a longer term, salary cap friendly, deal that would replace the tag later in the off season.
Jaguars confirm they are declining option on DT Dareus
At Tuesday’s media session at the NFL Scouting Combine, Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell made official what had been rumored for the last couple of days regarding defensive tackle Marcell Dareus: he will not be brought back for a fourth season in Jacksonville.
Caldwell confirmed the Jaguars are not picking up DT Marcell Dareus' option.
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 25, 2020
Dareus only played briefly in 2019, as he suffered a core muscle injury that sidelined him after only six games and he was placed on injured reserve. The former number one pick of the Buffalo Bills had played for coach Doug Marrone for a couple of seasons in Western New York.
Marrone and Caldwell traded for Dareus during the 2017 season and he helped them with their rise to the AFC South title and two playoff wins. This included Darius registering two sacks and four other tackles-for-loss in the Jaguars three playoff games that year.
Dareus made the Pro Bowl twice in Buffalo in 2013-14.
However, he has not lived up to his hefty contract that was reworked Jacksonville last February. Last season, Dareus made over $8 million dollars and the team would have been on the hook for $20 million this year had they picked up the option. That obviously wasn’t going to happen.
Dareus also has had legal troubles off the field, including a civil suit against him in Tampa for alleged sexual misconduct. As we wrote previously, a woman alleged that Dareus had sexually assaulted her in January of 2018 at a North Tampa Florida home, while Dareus was in town for the Alabama-Clemson College Football Playoff Championship Game.
However, that suit filed in Hillsborough County court was “dismissed with prejudice” last April, which means it cannot be re-filed.
Dareus, if healthy after the core muscle injury rehab, may have some value as a defensive tackle on the free agent market.
As for the Jaguars, they have former #1 pick defensive tackle Taven Bryan to play more in the middle and are trying to decide if free agent-to-be, DE Yannick Ngakoue, can be afforded for their 2020 salary cap?