It was less than two calendar years ago that the Jacksonville Jaguars were a narrow loss to the New England Patriots from appearing in the Super Bowl.
What has transpired since represents more than anything the failure of a front office that’s way past its prime.
What we know: Jacksonville sits at 4-8 on the season and has won nine of its past 28 games. The team benched high-priced free-agent signing Nick Foles during Sunday’s blowout loss to the Buccaneers and will have him holding the clipboard next week.
This is the dramatic failure of executive vice president Tom Coughlin and general manager David Caldwell coming out in droves. Let us explain.
On a wing and a prayer: Most “experts” rightfully criticized Jacksonville’s front office for handing Foles a four-year, $88 million contract back in March. His body of work didn’t suggest such a lucrative pay day.
- Foles’ deal called for a whopping $45.13 million in fully guaranteed cash. Having thrown 68 career touchdowns in 44 starts prior to the 2019 campaign, that seemed to be a massive overpay.
- Sure Foles earned the Super Bowl MVP against Tom Brady and the Patriots following the 2017 season. But one performance, no matter the grand stage, doesn’t change his entire body of work.
- Having seen Blake Bortles stink up the quarterback room from 2014-18, Jacksonville desperately needed an upgrade.
- The veteran market was limited. Jacksonville didn’t have the necessary options available to avoid an overpay.
The 2019 season: Foles suffered a collarbone injury early in his first game as a member of the Jaguars back in Week 1. It’s been downhill for both sides since.
- This certainly isn’t the way Jacksonville expected the start of its marriage with Foles to go. No one could have predicted the injury.
- Even then, he’s stunk up the joint since returning from injured reserve back in Week 11. That span has seen Foles throw two touchdowns while turning the ball over four times.
- The Jaguars? They are 0-3 in Foles’ three starts and have put up a combined 44 points during that span.
A part of the larger problem: The Foles’ failure is more indicative of broader issues within what has to be considered a Jaguars front office that’s in shambles.
- This season started with Pro Bowl corner Jalen Ramsey requesting a trade after getting into it with head coach Doug Marrone. Though, Ramsey’s issues seemed to be more with Coughlin.
- That’s the crux of the issue. Seen as a legend in Duval dating back to his days as the Jaguars’ head coach, Coughlin won the turf war against Ramsey after the boisterous corner was traded earlier in the season.
- Like clockwork, Coughlin himself has refused to commit to returning to the Jaguars next season. While that might be for the best, it tells us a larger story. Egos got in the way, and they impacted this once ascending franchise.
Other failures: It’s not all about Foles. There’s a culture war going on in Duval with Coughlin leading the charge.
- There’s a reason these Jaguars have fallen on hard times since that run in 2017. We’re not going to sit back and blame Coughlin for everything. That would be ignorant.
- However, he is the one common denominator here. It’s all about an old-school philosophy from the longtime NFL figure. That has not sat well with multiple young members of the Jaguars.
- In addition to Ramsey, former Pro Bowl linebacker Telvin Smith called it quits this past offseason. There’s also been an issue with the organization and running back Leonard Fournette.
- At a time when the league itself is changing, it’s these old-school ways that have held the Jaguars back.
Jacksonville might have found itself a steal in rookie sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew. The quarterback has played tremendous football and is adored by the fan base.
However, the long-term ramifications of the Foles’ signing threatens to derail any hopes of contention moving forward. He’s set to count $22.13 million against the cap in 2020 with that number increasing each of the following two seasons.
The dead cap hits are even more ridiculous over the next two seasons.
- 2020: $33.88 million
- 2021: $12.5 million
That’s one expensive backup. It also leads us to believe that Jacksonville’s current brass will hold on to hope that Foles can be the man under center moving forward. Why admit an $88 million mistake?
This is the biggest issue in Duval, and it’s why a front office shake up is needed. Simply put, Coughlin and Co. have too much of a built-in relationship with the Jaguars’ under-performing core. New faces and minds must take over in order to help this franchise move forward.
That includes moving on from Coughlin, Caldwell and Marrone. It’s the only way.