By: Hays Carlyon
The season can’t be saved.
All the full-padded training camp sessions in August heat, the joint practices with Minnesota, the thousands of hours of work since late July will result in a single label: failure.
That’s the result of a team coming off an AFC Championship Game appearance starting off 3-1 and missing the playoffs.
The Jaguars (4-9) host Washington (6-7) on Sunday at TIAA Bank Field. There is little importance to the game in the present for the Jaguars, but I do think there’s value in the future.
The leaders of the 2019 team can start to emerge with inspiring efforts despite little being on the line. There is a complete void of leadership on offense. The defense could use more as well.
Leadership starts with playing hard for your fans in the home finale. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone is stressing that to the team.
“I have talked to the team about that,” Marrone said. “It has been disappointing and we understand that. This is our last time to play at home. Let’s go out and give [our fans] a good performance. We owe it to the fans. They have been through [this season] just like we have been through this season. For us it is extremely important to go out there and play well and get a win.”
There are only a few players who are guaranteed to be back here next season. For those players the front office will have extensive discussions about retaining, it is critical to keep the intensity up for the final three games.
These are the times when players can truly show their love of the game.
“It is obviously a tough situation and you would hope that the love for the game takes over more than anything else,” Marrone said. “You sit there and you say it is your job. It is what you have to do, but there has to be something greater than that. That is where it comes out. You love this game. You have to go out there and play this game like when you were a little kid where no one was watching and no one was around and you were just as competitive and having fun. Those are the things you go through when you have a season like we have, which has been disappointing.”
A lack of effort will be damning for any player.
“You would hope that they are smart enough for that,” Marrone said. “People tend to look at these things, whether you are a free agent or you are coming back the following year. … If I was looking at a player on another team, I would look at the consistency throughout the season and I would be very concerned and put a red flag up if he was doing really well when the team was doing well and then at the end of the year didn’t put that same type of production in. That would be a major concern.”
(You can email Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)