A tumultuous 2018 for the Jacksonville Jaguars came to an end Sunday in Houston. And, right to the very end, it was marked bad football and controversy within the organization off the field.
First, briefly about the game: the Jags put up little resistance against a Texans team that clinched the division and a home playoff game 20 – 3.
And sadly, Jaguars fans have become accustomed to numbers like these: 6 first downs, 119 total yards with quarterback Blake Bortles being the leading rusher with just 15 of them and again, three points scored.
Further, if you go back in time to the Jacksonville match-up that they actually won 6 -0 with the Colts, the Jaguars went 2-3, yet, comically only scored two offensive touchdowns in those last 5 games.
Bad football on display.
Part of that problem all throughout the season has been the absence of star running back Leonard Fournette. We’ve well-documented that he’s missed much of the year with an injured hamstring. However, he was also suspended for a game by the NFL for his fight in the second half of the loss in Buffalo in November. More on that in a second.
Fournette was inactive with an ankle and foot injury for the finale Sunday, and that’s where more controversy began. This as, he and active backup running back T.J. Yeldon both appeared to disconnect from anything going on with the offense and the team during the game.
They repeatedly sat on the bench (below), while the Jaguars had the ball and we’re trying to get anything going on offense. The CBS Television cameras showed them on more than one occasion and clearly it was a bad look.
So much so, the Jaguars VP of football Tom Coughlin, took the highly unusual step of blasting the players in a statement Sunday evening about their seeming conduct detrimental to the team on the sidelines at NRG Stadium.
Statement from: Tom Coughlin:
“I am disappointed in the behavior today from T.J. Yeldon and Leonard Fournette. They were disrespectful, selfish and their behavior was unbecoming that of a professional football player.” #Jaguars pic.twitter.com/WmcwQKt2Ek
— Phillip Heilman (@phillip_heilman) December 30, 2018
Further, the AP reported Sunday night that the Jaguars have already informed Fournette and his representatives that they are looking to void the over $7 million remaining in his rookie contract guarantees for that one game NFL suspension.
Needless to say, that relationship has turned sour and it makes many observers and probably Jaguars fans too, wonder if Jacksonville is going to look to possibly trade Fournette this off season.
This latest off-field issue, comes on the heels of a season where star defensive back Jalen Ramsey has been a headache. And, there have been reports, despite his talent, of the Jaguars would explore trading him.
Coughlin also took to the media to call out former number 1 pick defensive end Dante Fowler over the course of this year and he was eventually traded just before the deadline to the Rams
Coughlin, GM Dave Caldwell, and head coach Doug Marrone were all given reassurance that they are being brought back by owner Shad Khan, as he released his own statement Sunday afternoon.
That’s a move that promotes continuity, but has to have many shaking their head that someone isn’t being held accountable for how this season spiraled down to 5-11 after a division winning and playoff winning 2017.
Clearly, the Jaguars are going to have to find a quarterback via free agency or a trade.
Due to the loss Sunday they have ended up with the seventh overall pick in April’s NFL Draft. However, unlike last year when four quarterbacks were taken in the top 10 of the draft, this is not a particularly deep draft at that position.
West Virginia quarterback Will Grier may be the only one that has a first-round grade from most draft analysts heading into the offseason process.
An off-season that could get wild and crazy with roster purge from Coughlin and the Jaguars front office.
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