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Jacksonville Jaguars

GameDay: Jags at crossroads in Nashville tonight

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Just when you thought the Jags could have turned corner after two wins in London and then Chicago, they laid an egg Sunday at home with the Raiders.

Now on a short week, they have traveled to Nashville to play Marcus Mariota and the Titans on Thursday Night Football.

Here are some quick things to know for tonight:

Jaguars on Offense

As we wrote this week, QB Blake Bortles is struggling and may have to see a voodoo witch doctor soon, if he doesn’t snap out of it. Bortles has thrown a pick in five of the six Jacksonville games this season. So, let’s start there. No int’s tonight to help the cause.

Some of that is predicated on the Jaguars inability to run the football. Just 72 yards from the running backs at home against a bad Oakland defense is not a good sign. They are averaging an anemic 76.7 rush yards per game on the season and only 3.7 yards per carry. Both of those are in the bottom five of the entire NFL. Not what you know want to be known for as an offense.

Jaguars must stop Mariota

The Titans QB is coming into his own with his arm and legs. Over the last three games, he’s got eight TD’s passing and only one INT and his QBR is a gaudy 113.1. And Mariota is getting to use his wheels some, as well, which is bad news for the Jags. For they already gave up a spectacular 87 yard TD run last season in Nashville that was the third longest in NFL QB rushing history. It will be a priority to contain Mariota, especially with Demarco Murray running well this season, when Tennessee goes often to the “Read Option.”

Uh-Oh, it’s the Boss

Finally, Jaguars Owner Shad Khan came to the team meeting and spoke to the players on Monday. No matter what anyone says, that’s not good with a team that is struggling. Even though the reports are that he was positive and re-affirming belief in head coach Gus Bradley and re-assuring the players, tonight is important.

Khan craves for his Jags to be relevant, and they don’t often play in stand alone prime time situations. They haven’t been on Sunday or Monday Night football in over seven seasons.

But between the London win, which was early start and most of the football fans around the  country that were awake tuned in for at least part of it and now tonight, they get a chance to show something.

Khan’s hoping they show that they are ready to play, stop the Titans and perhaps pull a good upset on the road.

If it’s the opposite……….

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue hinting he’s gone again?

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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:

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.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars confirm they are declining option on DT Dareus

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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 was a specifically asked about Dareus’ status and gave a quick answer is part of his Q&A session:

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?

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