It has definitely been an interesting Thursday involving the owner of the Jaguars, Shad Khan, and his intent to purchase famed Wembley Stadium in London.
Not only that, the rumor-mongering from the British press continues that Khan maybe looking to either move the Jags to London completely, or is seriously considering splitting half of their home schedule between TIAA Bank field in Jacksonville and London.
First, about the purchase of Wembley itself. As we have written, Khan is currently the highest bidder and the front-runner to acquire the stadium for over $700 million U.S. dollars. And, Thursday afternoon in London the Football Association or “FA,” which governs the entire sport in England, met and discussed Khans bid.
While there was a definite possibility that they could have gone ahead and approved the sale to the Jaguars owner, who also owns the English Premier League team Fulham FC, the FA chose not to do that Thursday.
Instead, they have elected to hold a special meeting of the FA Council on Wednesday October 24th to address mounting opposition from the over 22,000 members of the FA. That includes soccer teams, referees, adult and youth players, coaches, volunteers and members of the public that are part of the organization.
The governing body announced after their Thursday meeting that they want to take all of the opposition into consideration before rubber-stamping the sale to the billionaire Khan, who is a Pakistani immigrant to the U.S.
Now, for the part that fans in North Florida are tired of hearing, but will not go away. The London Daily Mail reported Thursday afternoon that Khan is looking seriously into playing multiple, if not all Jaguar home games at Wembley Stadium to enhance the cash flow and offset his purchase price. However, the article does point out there are severe U.S. and British tax consequences for Khan and for his players and organization, if he moves operations to London.
The Daily Mail says that one theory that makes sense is: that the team would remain based in Jacksonville year-round, including having training camp in Jacksonville and playing up to four games at TIAA Bank Field. However, they would then replace the entire NFL International Series with four Jaguar games being played at Wembley Stadium, as the other half of the Jags regular season home schedule.
It’s important to point out, that this is only a speculative theory.
And, most importantly, that the NFL and its owners would have to approve such an arrangement with a 3/4 vote. And, this is assuming the Khan would even want to split half a season in London home games in the first place.
There’s also a strong argument and, this is where the NFL players Association might get involved, it would be completely unfair to the Jaguar players. You would essentially be having them play four home games in Jacksonville and 12 games away from Jacksonville that you would have to travel to. Clearly, it’s an unfair situation to single out one team and its players, and put them at competitive disadvantage for division and playoff purposes.
Khan released this official statement Thursday afternoon with regard to the FA meeting and action on scheduling another meeting in 13 days:
Latest from Shad Khan on offer to buy Wembley after plans were presented to FA Council pic.twitter.com/VoHhhzooPY
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) October 11, 2018
The Jaguars had no official comment over the last two days on any of the reports in the London media specifically, that Khan still intends to move the Jaguars to Jacksonville in 2022 or shortly thereafter, once he owns Wembley Stadium.
They will play the Philadelphia Eagles at Wembley four days after the special meeting on Sunday October 28th.
Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game
With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.
Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.
That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.
Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.
Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.
The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.
Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.
Jaguars dilemma with injuries vs preseason playing time
The Jacksonville Jaguars will play their second preseason game tonight against the Philadelphia Eagles at TIAA Bank Field. At least, some of them will play against the Eagles.
And therein lies “The Dilemma” facing coach Doug Marrone, his staff and a team trying to shake off an awful 2018 season.
How much are his guys going to play, if at all, in this second exhibition contest? This is a week after 20 of his 22 starters did not play a down in the preseason opening loss in Baltimore.
And while everybody has been looking at the possibility of former Eagles Super Bowl MVP, and now Jaguars free agent star QB, Nick Foles going against his old team, it quite possibly won’t materialize.
As Mike Dirocco, ESPN beat writer for the Jaguars, wrote about earlier this week, Foles all the conceded he may not be out there very much due to injuries on the Jaguars offensive line and concerns over being able to protect him.
However, you cannot replicate the “live fire of a game,” like in the preseason, where Foles can work on timing at full speed with his reads and throws to young receivers like D.J. Chark, DeDe Westbrook and Chris Conley.
Further, it’s not as if the Jags have a season, much less several seasons, of experience with Foles with his personnel to lean on. No, he’s trying to get used to them, and they’re trying to get used to him.
And, let’s not forget that star running back Leonard Fournette wants to have a bounce-back 2019 and he didn’t play a down last week. Yes, there were injury issues with his hamstring all last year.
So what will Marrone and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo do with Fournette tonight? This is especially with a banged up O-Line.
And, maybe it will be, a series or maybe, none at all that we see the former LSU number one pick, who wowed everyone in his rookie season of 2017.
It’s fully understood that weeks from now, this Thursday night’s second preseason game isn’t going to matter. But for right now?
The first unit Jaguars need to be able to work together under a game tested circumstance, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to do much of that in North Florida Thursday night.