Jaguars’ fail­ures place ev­ery­one un­der scru­tiny

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS WEEKEND - By Gene Frenette

JACK­SONVILLE — Jaguars owner Shad Khan can’t pos­si­bly look at what tran­spired Thurs­day night at Nashville’s Nis­san Sta­dium and not take se­ri­ous ac­tion. There now has to be con­se­quences be­yond just the nor­mal roster turnover in the off­sea­son.

Head(s) out­side the locker room should, and must, even­tu­ally roll for this woe­fully un­der­achiev­ing sea­son. This is get­ting way out of hand. It can no longer be dis­missed by Khan as an aber­ra­tion caused by in­juries.

No­body — not head coach Doug Mar­rone, de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Todd Wash or any­body from front-of­fice czar Tom Cough­lin on down — should be im­mune from pink-slip con­sid­er­a­tion at this point.

Ev­ery NFL team is bound to have a bad game, but this was an abom­i­na­tion. It’s the kind of per­for­mance that can suck the life out of a fran­chise.

Such an em­bar­rass­ing 30-9 road melt­down by the Jaguars against their big­gest ri­val and neme­sis, the Ten­nessee Ti­tans, has to give Khan se­ri­ous pause about whether the right lead­er­ship struc­ture is in place mov­ing for­ward.

Eight losses in the past nine games is bad enough. But the man­ner in which Ten­nessee and run­ning back Der­rick Henry pun­ished the Jaguars — the Yulee High prod­uct bull­dozed the Jaguars for a Ti­tans-record 238 yards and four touch­downs — should send an un­mis­tak­able mes­sage about the depth of change that must take place to get the Jags fran­chise as­cend­ing again.

“You just have to take it and wear it be­cause it’s the bed we made and got to lay in it,” said Jaguars de­fen­sive tackle Calais Camp­bell. “This fam­ily that we built this year has three games left. Ev­ery year there is go­ing to be change, but we just have to find a way to keep fight­ing and stay to­gether just for pride, just for re­spect and you know, just for the love of the game.”

Look, no­body on the Jaguars is more re­spected than Camp­bell, but where was that fight, pride and re­spect in the big­gest game the Jaguars had left this sea­son?

If any matchup should have brought out a col­lec­tive full-throt­tle in­ten­sity from the Jaguars, you fig­ure a prime-time na­tion­ally-tele­vised meet­ing with the op­po­nent the play­ers and fans de­spise the most would do it.

But that didn’t come any­where close to hap­pen­ing. The Ti­tans took the open­ing kick­off and marched 73 yards in 10 plays for a touch­down. Even when Ten­nessee punt re­turner Cameron Bat­son gifted the Jaguars a safety and they were sub­se­quently one yard away from tak­ing the lead, ev­ery­thing just fell apart.

Leonard Four­nette, the run­ning back Cough­lin and GM Dave Cald­well drafted to be the cor­ner­stone of the of­fense, had three car­ries to get the go-ahead touch­down from 3, 2 and 1 yard away and couldn’t de­liver. The next play af­ter Ten­nessee’s goal-line stand, Henry stiff-armed Jaguars de­fend­ers A.J. Bouye, Leon Ja­cobs and Myles Jack en route to a de­bil­i­tat­ing 99-yard touch­down run.

“I def­i­nitely wasn’t go­ing down easy,” Henry said. “I’m go­ing to use the stif­farm to my ad­van­tage.”

“We just didn’t get him down,” added Mar­rone. “There were guys around him. You see a hit, he goes on, an­other guy is run­ning, guys run­ning from the other side of the field, guys run­ning from be­hind. We just didn’t’ tackle him.”

That wouldn’t be the first or last time. But right then and there, the Jaguars be­ing down 13-2 with 7:07 left in the sec­ond quar­ter, you knew they were cooked. It just had the feel of a long night at that point, and that’s ex­actly what it turned out to be.

Quar­ter­back Cody Kessler, mak­ing his sec­ond start in place of Blake Bor­tles, made a valiant ef­fort with a lim­ited sur­round­ing cast. But No. 6 is too lim­ited to rally the Jaguars back into con­tention, es­pe­cially with that patch­work of­fen­sive line go­ing against Ten­nessee’s stout de­fen­sive front and his re­ceivers drop­ping balls.

Kessler or Bor­tles, it just didn’t mat­ter. Nei­ther did win­ning the turnover bat­tle (2-1) or re­ceiver Dede West­brook hav­ing a pro­duc­tive night (7 catches, 88 yards). The Jaguars are just too much of a mess and, most alarm­ing of all, seemed too dis­in­ter­ested in putting up a le­git­i­mate fight.

Noth­ing was more dis­tress­ing than watch­ing how ridicu­lously easy the Ti­tans’ of­fense, ranked 28th in to­tal yards and scor­ing, phys­i­cally man­han­dled the Jaguars’ No. 3-ranked de­fense.

On Henry’s last three TD runs of 99, 54 and 16 yards, it looked like he was back in high school. When the 247-pound back wasn’t throw­ing de­fend­ers to the ground, he ei­ther zoomed past them or sim­ply ran through tack­lers as if they were mi­nor im­ped­i­ments.

Even Mar­rone ac­knowl­edged in his postgame news con­fer­ence that the Jaguars were some­thing less than war­riors.

“Well, I think when you’re go­ing to look at the film, I don’t think you’re go­ing to see the ef­fort,” said Mar­rone.

For Mar­rone to say, “I’m heav­ily dis­ap­pointed,” over this de­ba­cle qual­i­fies as the Un­der­state­ment of the Year.

The 2018 Jaguars (4-9), now of­fi­cially elim­i­nated from play­off con­tention, look like a bro­ken team. Ev­ery­body knows 6 to 8 starters prob­a­bly won’t be back next year due to salary-cap cut­ting mea­sures.

So the ques­tion hov­er­ing over the Jaguars these next three weeks and be­yond is whether the lead­er­ship trio — Cough­lin, Cald­well and Mar­rone — that Khan signed to con­tract ex­ten­sions last off­sea­son will re­turn in 2019.

As bad as things look right now, any­body in a lead­er­ship po­si­tion with the Jaguars’ foot­ball op­er­a­tion de­serves to be on the hot seat.

No ex­cep­tions.

FRED­ER­ICK BREE­DON/GETTY

Ti­tans run­ning back Der­rick Henry, who fin­ished with 238 yards and 4 TDs, pow­ers away on his 99-yard scor­ing run in Ten­nessee’s 30-9 win over the Jaguars on Thurs­day.

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