January 21st 2018. This is the date that the Jacksonville Jaguars played in the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were less than a quarter away from reaching the first Super Bowl in franchise history.
They ended up coming short as New England went on to win that game and ultimately lose in Minnesota to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 52.
Big things were expected of the Jaguars coming in to the 2018 NFL season with many, including myself, tipping them to go one better and reach Super Bowl 53.
Jacksonville started off the season well, finishing their first four games with a 3-1 record, including a 31-20 week 2 win over New England which many thought was a statement of intent.
Their 2019 season was not much better (6-10) and now they are many people’s pick to finish last in their division and have the worst record in the league.
So just how have a team that was so close to reaching the big game managed to completely derail in just over two years?
The main issue has been off the pitch with the character of alot of the players on the roster extremely questionable.
Four Jaguars players were arrested after trying to leave a London nightclub without paying for their tab whilst they were in the UK for their annual International Series game, which was against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Head coaches and general managers often refer on the day of the NFL Draft that they are looking for the right character as well as their production on the field.
We have seen alot of players depart Jacksonville since that AFC Championship game loss, which has played a big part in the demise of the Jaguars.
It is no surprise that alot of the big personalities have been the ones who have left.
Jalen Ramsey, who now plays for the Los Angeles Rams, is one of the league’s biggest talkers and the likes of Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngokue have also made headlines in the past for non footballing reasons.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler has referred to the “character concern” surrounding Fournette and Ngokue, now with the Minnesota Vikings, voiced his desire to not only leave the franchise but also take a pay cut in order to do so.
They also allowed cornerback A.J. Bouye and current Walter Payton Man Of The Year holder and five time Pro Bowler Calais Campbell to leave.
They appear to be wanting to remove all the negative impacts on the dressing room and the rebuild mode is truly on.
Gardiner Minshew is becoming more of a cult hero for Jaguars and non Jaguars fans with his infectious personality but many are expecting Jacksonville to draft Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 draft.
Is Doug Marrone going to be there for the rebuild?
The Jaguars’ side has been completely depleted and Doug Marrone is not expecting much from his side in 2020.
Marrone’s head coaching ability is definitely under question for his inability to keep hold of his good players, with many tipping him to be fired after the conclusion of the 2019 season. However, when he had these good players, the Jaguars went 10-6.
He clearly is able to coach but will he have time to add the players he wants and once again showcase his coaching ability to the world?