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NFL Draft

TDN Scouting: What Happened To The Jaguars?

  • The Draft Network
  • August 31, 2020
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Currently going through summer evaluations, our scouting team of Kyle Crabbs, Joe Marino, Jordan Reid, and Drae Harris are meeting up every day to discuss prospects, traits, and concepts.

On Monday—following the release of running back Leonard Fournette and the trade of EDGE Yannick Nagokue—we quickly discussed the state of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ organization, detailing why the team has gone downhill since their 2017 AFC Championship Game appearance.

What happened?

It’s not too long ago that the Jaguars were seemingly the talk of the NFL, dominating opponents with a ferocious defense and run game that almost took them to the Super Bowl. Fast forward a few years later and the Jaguars are now back to their usual sorry state.

So, what happened? Aside from the obvious departures of star players like Jalen Ramsey and Calais Campbell, Marino offered some insight into why things haven’t worked out. Surprisingly enough, that didn’t start with poor drafting or overall team talent.

“I don’t think that (talent) has been the issue for Jacksonville. I think that Dave Caldwell has done a good job of collecting very, very talented football players,” Marino stated. “The two fundamental mistakes they’ve made are that they committed to the wrong coach and the wrong quarterback. That sets off the entire balance of your roster because those are probably the two most important things to get right.”

Crabbs furthered this sentiment, harping on the team’s coaching decisions—or lack thereof—that’s resulted in their current state.

“We talk about the dynamics of continuity and the dangers of not having continuity, but Jacksonville’s almost on the other side of the coin (in that regard), “ Crabbs stated. “They need to realize that more of the same isn’t necessarily good just for the sake of avoiding change. This stretch they’ve had since Caldwell came in (in 2013)... they’ve picked good pieces, but they’ve also only had one coaching change during that duration. The reluctance to make sweeping changes cost them.”

Like Crabbs, Reid also brought up indecision as a key issue for the Jaguars. Instead of head coach, however, he was more concerned about the refusal to move away from Blake Bortles at quarterback. In particular, he referenced the 2017 NFL Draft where the team infamously opted to take Fournette instead of a passer.

“There’s just no way you should take an RB in the top 5 over a Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes,” Reid stated. “Yes, we obviously didn’t know that Mahomes was going to be (this good), but (Jacksonville) should have realized that Blake Bortles’ 35 touchdowns that year were fool's gold. They probably would’ve won the Super Bowl in 2017 if they decided to move on from Bortles earlier.”

Lastly, Reid also harped on issues that can arise from building a team around a run-game and defense, not a quarterback.

“Relying on a strong run-game and defense isn’t a recipe for success over the long haul,” he stated. “It may work for a short period, but that (window) is limited.”

Judging from their recent roster moves and poor outlook, that window has seemingly been shut in record time for the Jaguars.

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