By: Hays Carylon
HOUSTON — Bad football and two statements – one from the owner and one from the personnel chief.
That summed up a bizarre ending to this awful Jaguars season.
The listless 20-3 loss to the Texans on Sunday at NRG Stadium became the least interesting development of the day as the Jaguars closed a 5-11 campaign a year removed from the AFC Championship Game.
Immediately after the game, Jaguars owner Shad Khan released a statement confirming that executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone would all return in 2019 keeping the front office intact.
Here is Khan’s full statement.
“I informed Tom Coughlin this week that I want him to see through our shared goal of bringing a Super Bowl title to Jacksonville.
Given our overall body of work over the past two seasons, I offered to Tom that I preferred entering the 2019 season with as much stability as reasonable or possible at the top of our football operation. However, those decisions, at all times, are Tom’s decisions, and I would respect any call he made on our general manager and head coach.
I am pleased that Tom sees our situation and opportunity similarly, so we will return to work this week fully confident and optimistic with Dave Caldwell as our general manger and Doug Marrone as our head coach.
I have the same trust in Tom, Dave and Doug as I did upon their introduction two years ago, and I do believe our best path forward for the moment is the one less disruptive and dramatic.
Stability should not be confused with satisfaction, however. I am far from content with the status quo and while it’s best to put 2018 behind us, I will not overlook how poorly we accounted for ourselves following a 3-1 start. There were far too many long Sundays over the last three quarters of the season, with today’s loss in Houston being the final example, and that cannot repeat itself in 2019. That’s my message to our football people and players, but also our sponsors and fans, both of whom were remarkable.”
Less than an hour later, we had another statement. This one came from Coughlin.
He decided to take running backs Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon to task.
Yeldon was active for the game, but stayed seated on the bench the entire contest when the offense was on the field. It was an odd site. Players dressed to play, but not in the game routinely stay close to the sidelines and coaches when their unit has the ball. The fourth-year veteran was clearly disinterested in playing as his contract expires.
Fournette, inactive on Sunday, sat next to Yeldon for the majority of the game. Coughlin’s ire at Fournette was a bit puzzling since he was dressed in street clothes. Inactive players usually aren’t overly engaged in the game.
Coughlin didn’t hold back.
“I am disappointed in the behavior today from T.J. Yeldon and Leonard Fournette. They were disrespectful, selfish and their behavior was unbecoming of a professional football player.”
Clearly, Coughlin will take a gift card to Chili’s for Fournette in a trade this off-season. Coughlin ripping Fournette publicly for this seemed to be more in the category of Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back. Fournette was lazy in his rehab from a Week 1 hamstring injury, was ejected and then suspended for fighting in the Buffalo loss and generally ineffective after a good rookie season last year.
When I asked Marrone about Yeldon’s behavior after the game, he said he didn’t see it. Well, his boss did.
I understand Marrone is focusing on the field, but how can Yeldon’s unprofessionalism happen 20 feet behind you for three hours and you have no clue about it? If the Jaguars knew Yeldon didn’t want to play they should’ve made him inactive like they did last week. If running backs Carlos Hyde and David Williams get hurt, you give fullback Tommy Bohanon the ball. Hell, let right guard A.J. Cann run with it. At least he wants to be out there and he’s in the same contract situation as Yeldon. Why make someone active who clearly isn’t going to play?
Imagine defensive ends Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue, who gave everything on Sunday combining for three sacks, coming off the field and then watching Yeldon act like that with no repercussions from the coaching staff.
Marrone at least acknowledged that.
“That falls on me,” Marrone said. “I did not do a good job there, period. … Every year you have to start from the beginning and build a foundation. If there’s cracks, and obviously there were cracks in ours, once those cracks happen, it’s very tough to fill those cracks once you start going.”
Now look at what this trio of Coughlin, Caldwell and Marrone has done in 2018 as football decision makers.
- Extended quarterback Blake Bortles. A costly mistake.
- Signed receiver Donte Moncrief. Bust.
- Signed left guard Andrew Norwell. Injured, but trending down.
- Signed tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Injured, but trending down.
- Traded for running back Carlos Hyde. Waste of a fifth-round pick.
- Drafted defensive lineman Taven Bryan in the first round. One sack.
- Drafted receiver D.J. Chark in the second round. Fourteen catches.
None of those decisions look like good ones with a full season in the books, although Bryan and Chark could certainly improve.
Meanwhile, the other three teams in the AFC South combined for 30 wins with two playoff appearances.
The Jaguars seem in total disarray heading into this off-season. This is going to be a huge fix both in talent and culture.
But, hey, at least they’re stable.
(You can email Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)