The Jaguars needed and got a decisive Sunday afternoon win over the New York Jets 31 – 12 and improved to 3 – 1 on the season.
However, there was definitely something curious going on at the end of the contest, as the Jaguars were in the process of putting the game away and running out the clock.
And despite Jags Coach Doug Marrone trying to downplay it or deny it, Jacksonville was clearly trying to score one more touchdown and even went for the two-point conversion when they didn’t have to in the final 20 seconds of the game.
Let’s reset the exact circumstances of what went on in the final minute at TIAA Bank field Sunday:
On 2nd and goal, RB T.J. Yeldon took a direct snap at quarterback and ran four yards down to the Jets four yard line. Then, with the clock rolling at that point the Jaguars could have chosen to kneel on the ball on 3rd and goal and kill another approximate 40 seconds of time.
Marrone and play caller Nathaniel Hackett instead elected to directly snap the ball to Yeldon, again and he attempted to score from the 4-yard line being tackled inbounds at the one yard line, as the clock continued to roll.
Jacksonville eventually took a timeout to avoid a delay-of-game penalty with 27 seconds left.
At that point, with fourth and goal from the New York one yard line with 27 seconds left, leading by 13 points and with the Jets out of timeouts, Marrone could have knelt on the ball running 2 or 3 seconds off the clock and then, given the ball back to the Jets around their two or three yard line.
They then would have had to go 97 or more yards in the final 20 seconds of the game without a timeout to score a touchdown. Then, kick an onside kick and recover it to have any chance to score another touchdown to potentially win the game.
All in 20 seconds. Without any timeouts. With the first score coming from 97 or so yards away.
Those odds would be the same as you getting hit by an asteroid before 5 p.m. Monday.
Instead Marrone and Hackett called yet another play and this was a handoff to Yeldon, who scored on the 4th and goal to make the game 31-12.
Then, things got even more curious: Up by 19 points with 25 seconds left, which again for the non-math majors, meant the Jags only needed to kick an extra point to be up by the magical margin of 20 points at 32 to 12.
That would now mean that in the final 25 seconds, the Jets would have to score two touchdowns, convert both two-point conversions, and get the ball back a third time and score another touchdown to beat you (overcoming 20 point deficit).
Instead, when questioned after the game, Marrone told the media that his chart said at 19 points for the margin- go for two, which the Jaguars did. Blake Bortles’ pass fell incomplete and the margin remained 19 points 31 – 12.
The Jaguars kicked off and the Jets called a first down run play into the line to run the clock out and accept “the L.”
Marrone used a cop-out excuse of:
“We had a lot of guys banged up for the PAT/field goal [team], and on the chart it just said 19 [points],” Marrone said. “On the chart it says go for two. I’m one of those guys, I never try to take anything for granted in an NFL game. Try to keep working those mechanics and doing it, so just went for two.
“… We’re not good enough to send a message right now.”
However one of his players, defensive tackle Malik Jackson verified post game that Marrone was running it up, telling the media,
“He doesn’t like those guys,” Jackson said. “I don’t know what they did to him, but he doesn’t like them.”
When Jets coach Todd Bowles was asked about the interesting circumstance of scoring a touchdown in the final 30 seconds and then going for a two-point conversion, when the game was already decided, he told the New York media:
“I don’t tell another guy how to coach his team,” he said. “If they run it, we have to defend it.”
Marrone went head-to-head against the Jets as coach of the Buffalo Bills for two seasons and won three of the four meetings, including two decisive wins in 2014. Marrone exercised an “out clause” in his contract that said if there was an ownership change in Buffalo, he could walk away with $4 million dollars. And, he did so in January of 2015.
As Dirocco wrote Sunday evening, Marrone interviewed a short time later with the Jets and apparently had his bid to become their coach partially sabotaged by the New York media quoting unnamed Bills’ assistants and sources ripping Marrone for how he had conducted himself, as head coach in Buffalo.
Marrone (shown above in post game handshake Sunday), obviously didn’t get the Jets job and Todd Bowles did in January of 2015.
Interstingly, the Jaguars lost a hard fought 23-20 overtime game at the Jets last year. It was controversial in one sense, when an apparent go ahead TD was scored by Leonard Fournette late in the game, but was called back for holding. The Jags had to settle for a tying field goal and the Jets eventually won with their field goal in overtime.
So our “F.F.I. detective work” leads us to believe this is a shot at Jets ownership and Woody Johnson and the team front office, for angering him during the interview process.
There’s no legitimate football scoring reason as to why Marrone and the Jaguars were trying to score a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the final 25 seconds of the game Sunday.
It had to be something else.
And now, we have the a somewhat clearer picture of what.
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