With the devastation of flooding from Hurricane and now, Tropical Storm Harvey in Southeast Texas continuing, sports is obviously not a real priority. The Houston Texans already have their final preseason game displaced to Arlington to play the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium Thursday night. Now, their regular season home opener September 10th with the Jaguars is in real doubt, too.
But, the obvious seemingly quick solution of “just switch this home game to Jacksonville and have the Jags come to Houston in November,” isn’t so simple and when you examine closely, isn’t even likely.
Let’s go over it:
Without a doubt, the devastation in Houston isn’t going to be rectified by a week from Sunday. In fact, it will likely be a “state of emergency” for the next couple of weeks or longer. There are hundreds of thousands in the Houston area who are currently displaced and it will be later this week or weekend before many of them return to their homes, etc. to see the flood devastation first hand. Many will be without power throughout this weekend and probably a lot longer.
This doesn’t take into account all of the police/security personnel, EMS/Paramedics, stadium workers, etc. that it takes to put an NFL home game on, most of whom won’t be available because they are needed elsewhere or are greatly affected by the flooding and damage themselves.
In short, it’s near impossible that the Texans would be able to host a home game on September 10th.
And, this doesn’t take into account the awful “optics” for the NFL and the team of trying ramrod the game and having say 17,000 or fewer people hypothetically be there against Jacksonville. And, have backlash about why police and first responders, etc. are at a home football game, while the crisis and devastation are still on going?
So, what to do?
Well, back to our headline. The “swap” with the Jaguars is remote at best for one clear reason: Everbank Field isn’t going to be ready to host an NFL game on September 10th.
Because the Jaguars were scheduled to be gone for week one, Shad Khan and organizers did a deal to have Canadian 80’s rock star, Bryan Adams, play a concert in the stadium Saturday night September 9th. That concert has been promoted for months and isn’t being moved or canceled on a week’s notice.
This means that the stadium and most importantly, the field, will be occupied for at least 72 hours prior to Saturday night September 9th. And, it’s 100% certainty that the turf, with massive concert stage and accompanying equipment sitting on it, will be in rough shape for days after. And this doesn’t take into account the thousands of seats and concert goers who will be all over the field all Saturday night, too.
So, this means trying to play 12-18 hours after the concert on that turf is a virtual impossibility.
In the past, the NFL has considered and even played a second game on Monday Night Football. However, week one, they already have a doubleheader with Saints vs. Vikings and Chargers vs. Broncos scheduled. It is very unlikely that they would let a Texans vs. Jaguars game be a third game on Monday. And, it presupposes that the field would be playable the next night, too.
So, we at F.F.I. see it like this:
The NFL will likely move the game from Houston for the reasons above.
Do the Texans stay in Dallas and possibly play the Jaguars at Jerry’s World for a second straight game there on September 10th? Well, the problem is: the Cowboys are playing on that Sunday night at home. Would the NFL consider letting Houston and Jacksonville play on the field turf at noon local time before clearing the stadium and having the Cowboys and Giants kickoff just after 7 p.m.? Unlikely, but, possible.
Also possible, is that the game could be played in San Antonio’s Alamo Dome 90 minutes to the West of Houston. This is a strong alternative.
Or, as the league has done in the past, maybe there’s another NFL Stadium that available in the region. They did this most recently two years ago when a snow storm in Buffalo forced the Bills and Jets to both scramble to and play in Detroit.
The NFL could entertain the slight possibility that it would be the Jags home game, but played in either Orlando’s Camping World Stadium, which has no NFL tenant or Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, home of the Bucs, while they play in Miami week one.
However, Jacksonville is likely to strongly object to losing their home game, out of their stadium completely, when this is Houston’s and the league’s issue.
While the NFL doesn’t have to make the decision on where to play for several days, just don’t expect it to be in Houston and the home game “flip” with the Jags is remote, as well.
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?