It’s a mess in Jacksonville, especially with the quarterback situation for the Jaguars, and now that one of the possible solutions that was available to the Jags last April in the draft is succeeding, it looks even worse.
As the Jaguars lost for the second consecutive time and 10th time in 11 games on Sunday, it’s obvious that their quarterback situation is in complete disarray.
Compound that with the fact that coach Doug Marrone either completely on his own, or at the instruction of VP of football Tom Coughlin, has decided for now, that Blake Bortles will not go back in, even as backup. This makes things even worse.
If you are a Jaguars fan, you are shaking your head that there is not currently a quarterback on the roster that you can put any hope towards for 2019 and beyond.
However, there was a quarterback available at the end of the first round last April, and he’s now playing for the Baltimore Ravens, and succeeding.
Succeeding, when the Ravens need him the most down the stretch.
Lamar Jackson won his fourth game in five starts Sunday, as the Ravens beat the Buccaneers 20 – 12 in Baltimore. And while Jackson is not putting up spectacular passing numbers, he’s made a lot of flashy runs, moved the chains on third down and Baltimore is firmly in the AFC Wildcard picture with two games to go because of him. He also has run for at least 70 yards in all of his first five starts, which is an NFL record.
Now, let’s go back to what we wrote immediately after the first round of the draft had concluded in April and Jacksonville had decided not to take Lamar Jackson late in the evening. Instead, they drafted Gators defensive tackle Taven Bryan:
There is no disputing that the NFL has become a quarterback driven league. There’s also no disputing that the 2018 QB class is littered with stars, big names and even some depth on night two, etc. of the draft.
However, there was a possible “watershed moment” in Jacksonville last night involving the short and long term future of the most critical position on an offense, quarterback. And the Jaguars, as several teams did before them, looked right at Louisville QB Lamar Jackson still sitting there late in the first round,….and passed.
They instead went with a safer pick at #29 of Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan. He’s a big, athletic and a regional favorite, because he played his college ball just down I-75 in Gainesville.
But, don’t mistake this: he’s not a game changing impact player.
Not like what Jackson potentially will be for his new team, the Ravens.
Baltimore, was aggressive on Thursday night, trading down, while on the clock, not once, but twice in the opening round. And in picking up more selections, the Ravens and GM Ozzie Newsome were able to easily able to bounce back into the final pick of round one to get their apparent QB of the future.
We don’t always get things 100% correct, but obviously we were on to this situation from the very beginning.
This was especially, the part about Bryan not being a “game changing impact player.” He has one start in 13 games, 16 total tackles and one tackle for loss. A minimal impact for sure.
Further, we wrote this in the draft night item about Bortles’ tenuous situation with his contract, and foresaw in April that you could hypothetically go to Lamar Jackson late in the year (like Baltimore has done):
….you know what you have in Blake Bortles. And, as we wrote at the time, you also have a large short term, but not long term, financial commitment to him on the contract extension they gave him in January. So, similarly, if Bortles struggles or regresses in 2018, you can decide to move on with someone else and it doesn’t cost you dearly on the cap.
Only, the Jaguars didn’t take that someone last night.
That’s exactly how things have played out at the end of 2018 with Bortles going to the bench, and not having anyone to turn to to spark the team, excite the fans and get ready for the future.
Now, there is a small recent history of quarterbacks who are primarily runners, like Vince Young and even Robert Griffin III having some early success, but then eventually being beaten up physically. Further, not being able to succeed long-term, because they can’t stand in the pocket read defenses and throw.
The same current argument could be made of the Bills first round pick this year, Josh Allen, who’s making much more of an impact with his feet than his arm, so far.
That could turn out to be the case for Lamar Jackson down the road, as well.
However, all we know for now is: Jackson is succeeding, and the Jaguars could have had him on their roster to energize their franchise and fanbase at the end of what has been a bad season.
That’s a decision that owner Shad Khan may very well hold Coughlin, GM Dave Caldwell, Marrone or some combination, accountable for coming up.
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?