He held true to his word. All last week Jaguars coach Doug Marrone insisted they were going to not only play hard but play to win the regular season ending game at Tennesse, with nothing to gain themselves. You see, Jacksonville was locked into the #3 seed for this weekend’s start to the playoffs, no matter what.
However, Marrone understood (and maybe V.P. of football, Tom Coughlin gave a little advice too), that a chance to potentially knock the Titans out of the playoffs, which they ended up having, and needing to be sharp for the next game, were important.
So, important, with the game a “nip and tuck” low scoring battle, Marrone left his starters in on both sides of the ball-all the way until the end, because the integrity of “trying to win” was important.
The same could not be said of the Dolphins and Adam Gase’s decision (if it was his alone) to bench Jay Cutler and play unheralded QB David Fales the entire game. This is especially, when beating Buffalo meant something for the Ravens, the Titans and Chargers in the AFC Wildcard tiebreaker race.
I am sure those clubs were “thrilled” that Miami was choosing to play a QB who has zero chance to be their 2018 starter, series after series in a close game.
Consider also, that in Baltimore, Marvin Lewis and his veterans QB Andy Dalton, WR A.J. Green, etc. went “all out” and defeated the Ravens in the final minute to end up eliminating them.
Consider, next, the eliminated 11 loss Bucs, 1,000 miles to the South, playing starters QB Jameis Winston, WR Mike Evans, DT Gerald McCoy, etc. the whole game trying to beat the Saints and cost them the NFC South. And, when Winston threw the game winning TD with :09 left? They pulled off a win that could have given the Panthers the division and a home game.
Consider, finally, the Cardinals, playing 3,000 miles to the Northwest of Tampa, eliminated from contention and doing everything they could to end the Seahawks season. And, as it turns out in Bruce Arians final game as Arizona coach (he retired Monday), they outplayed the Seahawks and ended their NFC Wildcard hopes.
Three examples of doing it the right way.
Back to the Jaguars. As it turns out, they will now host the Bills Sunday in the AFC Wildcard game at Everbank Field.
No. They didn’t win in Nashville, and the Titans are still around-playing the Chiefs on Saturday in that Wildcard game.
But, that wasn’t from a lack of playing your best guys and trying to win.
Playing the season out to the very end. Just like Marrone promised.
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