It has been widely speculated that Jaguars owner Shad Khan has been so dissatisfied with his team’s performance on and off the field, that he would make sweeping changes at the conclusion of the season. He isn’t waiting that long.
The Jaguars put the statement on social media:
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) December 19, 2019
“I determined earlier this fall that making this move at the conclusion of the 2019 season would be in everyone’s best interests but, in recent days, I reconsidered and decided to make this change immediately,” Khan said. “I thank Tom for his efforts, not only over the past three years but for all he did from our very first season, 25 years ago, to put the Jacksonville Jaguars on the map.
General Manager Dave Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone will each report directly to me on an interim basis. My expectations, and those of our fans, for our final two games and the 2020 season are high.
Coughlin had been heralded as a savior being brought back by Khan nearly three years ago to help with coaching and player personnel decisions. Couglin was the original coach/GM of the franchise in the mid-1990’s, who led them to great on field success for a decade.
Meanwhile, the Wednesday statement is only a lukewarm vote of confidence to Caldwell and Marrone, and with essentially 11 days left in the season until the Jaguars finale they may not be around much longer, either.
The move comes on the heels of the Jaguars falling apart this season, even after they had gotten their record level at 4 – 4. Sunday’s win in Oakland snapped a five game losing streak to put the record at 5-9 headed to Atlanta Sunday.
It all began in week one, when prized free agent quarterback Nick Foles suffered a broken left collarbone in the first quarter against Kansas City. However sixth round rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew actually performed well in Foles’ absence and helped Jacksonville win some games to make it at least look like the team would have a shot at the playoffs, when Foles returned.
However, after being blown out by Houston in their London game, they came off the bye week and Foles came back, but was largely ineffective at the team was blown out in back-to-back games by Indianapolis and Tennessee.
When the Jaguars returned home on December 1st to play The Bucs, Foles was awful, turning the ball over three times in the first half as Tampa Bay built a 22-0 lead. Marrone then benched him in favor of Minshew, who actually rallied the team for 11 points and had them driving for more when he threw a critical interception on the goal line to kill the comeback.
Marrone announced the next day that he was benching Foles, who is still owed over $30 million in guaranteed money for the next two years.
Things got no better in Minshew’s first start back, as they were blown out by the L.A. Chargers at home 45-10.
It was obvious after that loss that Khan would be making changes.
The Jaguars went on to a come-from-behind win last week in Oakland with Minshew leading to touchdown drives in the final five minutes, including throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to Chris Conley in the final 30 seconds of the 20 – 16 win.
But, then came the latest off-field controversy, when on Monday it was announced by the NFLPA that an arbitrator ruled that the Jaguars had abused their power of fining former player Dante Fowler in the off season of 2018. The arbiter agreed with the association and Fowler that he wasn’t required to report to their team doctor and training staff in the offseason for an injury rehab.
Jacksonville had with held $700,000 in payments to Fowler.
Fowler took to social media Monday night to gloat and report that he got the money back. He was traded to the L.A. Rams last October and has gone on to have a successful season with them this year.
Another off field controversy involved the handling of star defensive back Jalen Ramsey, a perennial Pro Bowler and arguably Jacksonville’s best player. Ramsey became upset privately with Coughlin this past March, when Coughlin criticized he and teammate Telvin Smith not attending Organized Team Activities in the off-season
That led the NFLPA to publicly rebuked Couglin, with the association saying that those practices are voluntary and that a player cannot be threatened or penalized for not attending.
Then, after the Jaguars narrow loss in week 2 to Houston, Coughlin had a private meeting with Ramsey and apparently did not go well. So much so, that Ramsay left the meeting demanding through his agent to be traded.
An ordeal played out over the next few weeks, including Ramsey purposely trying not to play for the team claiming a back injury and also wanting to be away from the team for the birth of his second child, etc.
Coughlin and Caldwell traded Ramsey also to the L.A. Rams for two number one picks, just before the deadline in October.
Ramsey reacted with expected social media, emoji, “glee” later Wednesday night:
— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) December 19, 2019
As for Khan, he obviously got fed up with not only the problems away from the field but the losing on it as Jacksonville has never been able to recapture the magic of the 2017 season. That’s where they made the playoffs and battled the Patriots to the final minutes in the AFC Championship Game to go to the Super Bowl.
Last year they were 5-11 and the best they can be is 7-9 for 2019.
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?