Coming off of an exciting 2017 season for each of them, the Jaguars and the Vikings were already playing in the preseason this August, and now they will try to benefit from that, even more.
On Thursday, the teams that each won their division and made their conference title game a year ago, jointly announced that they will be practicing together in Minneapolis in advance of their August 18th preseason game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Jags announced the move on social media around lunch time:
For more on the joint practice:https://t.co/JU8jLhBw4I
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) May 17, 2018
There are some intriguing elements and benefits. And Jacksonville coach, Doug Marrone laid those out in the team release:
“We look forward to traveling to Minnesota to work with Coach Zimmer and his team at their new state-of-the-art facility, the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center,” said Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone. “Having the opportunity to practice with another conference finalist during training camp will allow us to compete with great players and coaches and continue to push ourselves. We believe that these joint sessions will provide us with an opportunity to improve as a football team, which is always the goal for training camp.”
He’s absolutely right that by the third week of training camp, the mundane repetition of practicing against yourselves day after day in the summer heat needs to be broken up. And many teams for years have begun to do with with another club.
In fact, last season, the Jaguars hosted the Bucs in joint practices prior to their August exhibition match-up at their facilities adjacent to what’s now, TIAA Bank Field.
However, things don’t always go as intended for either or both teams.
Example, during those practices last August, as was documented on the HBO training camp all access “Hard Knocks” that featured the Bucs, coach Dirk Koetter was displeased with the effort and the execution of his team against the Jags in the workouts.
Even worse though, Jacksonville played terribly as a team, in the first half of the actual game, and QB Blake Bortles looked so bad, that Marrone and the coaching staff decided to bench him for the following week in favor of veteran backup Chad Henne.
Henne was largely ineffective in that role to end the preseason, and the Jags went back to Bortles. And, he went on to a solid start to the regular season and was good, not great, for the most part in 2017.
As for the Vikings, they are anxious to get all of the work in that they can for new high priced free agent QB Kirk Cousins, as this would be his second exhibition game. And there work with the Jaguars should benefit them, leading to the game.
Still both teams won’t show much, to each other in practice, and usually the second preseason game sees starters gone by half time.
So, how much will really be gained by this?
Coaches will tell you it helps evaluate. Players will tell you they like limited blocking and tackling someone else.
Fans will get to see the practices for free.
Other than those points? Not a lot else will be.
It is after all, practice.
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?