The Jaguars are feeling pretty good about themselves right now. You can tell from looking at their official twitter feed, where for the time being at least, they’ve changed their name.
In celebration of the record-setting 10-sack effort their defense turned in during what proved to be a 29-7 manhandling of the Texans on Sunday, the Jags now claim to hail from “Sacksonville’’ instead of Jacksonville.
— #Sacksonville (@Jaguars) September 10, 2017
Pretty cool. And hey, who can blame them for having some fun. The Jaguars haven’t had much of that lately and besides, they’ve invested a lot of money and draft picks into their pass rush the last few years and that pass rush sure came through in Week 1.
Two of their 10 sacks were strip sacks by second-year end Yannick Ngakoue, and one of those was turned into a touchdown when Dante Fowler recovered the fumble and ran it back 53 yards for the score.
“At the end of the day, sometimes the ball just bounces your way,’’ said Calais Campbell, who led the way with four sacks “Sometimes good plays come your way.’’
It wasn’t just sacks that came the Jaguars way on Sunday. They also forced four takeaways, including fumble recoveries by Fowler, Ngakoue and Abry Jones and an interception by Tashaun Gipson.
All but one of the takeaways resulted in scores for the Jaguars, who would have gone 4-for-4 in that area had kicker Jason Myers not missed a 39-yard field goal try at the start of the fourth quarter.
The four takeaways were just one less than the Jaguars had in their first eight games last year, when they finished the season tied for 31st in the league in takeaways with 13, including just seven interceptions.
Of course, that’s pretty much in keeping with the way the Jaguars have performed in the takeaway department the last few years. Since 2009, the Jaguars have forced just 183 takeaways.
That’s the fewest in the league over that span – by a dozen – and it’s 78 less than the Patriots, the leader in takeaways over that nine-year stretch, have recorded.
For the Jaguars, though, Sunday was a different kind of day, and Campbell believes it may just be the first of a lot more days just like it over the course of the remainder of the season.
“It’s just a start,’’ Campbell said. “We want to be the best defense in the league and we have that ability. But like I said, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t continue with it.
“But yeah, it does feel good. We played a great game, with directing our game plan very well. I made a lot of plays and when you do that you’re going to win games.’’
And change names.
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?