The question is an easy one. The answer, not so much. It permeates the atmosphere of Jacksonville, Florida, and makes its way down to about Orlando or so, and up to Savannah, and over to Tallahassee. The question is: How do you fix the Jaguars?It’s not just one thing. No, it’s not just Head Coach Gus Bradley. It’s not just Blake Bortles. It’s not just the play calling, or the defense whiffing on plays. The defense is actually pretty good; the offense is a train wreck. Gus Bradley is living in some sort of fantasy world. It’s a multitude of things and they all need to be addressed.
So what do you do? How do you fix it? The answer, in my opinion, is in the following sentences of this paragraph. First, you pay Gus Bradley and most of his staff to take a year off. Let them go. I hate anybody losing their job, and Gus seems like an incredibly nice guy, but they need to go. The fix begins with that. Then, you hire an individual to be a head coach that has previous head coaching experience. Some people have floated the possibility of the Jaguars once again hiring Tom Coughlin. That would be okay with me. Maybe one could talk Dungy or Cowher out of retirement, which would also be good, although there is always talk of that and it never pans out because those guys are quite happy with their TV gigs. I would be okay with maybe Todd Haley; I don’t see Josh McDaniels working because a great majority of former Patriots coordinators do not work out when head coaching. But I don’t want to see another “hot coordinator” without head coach experience hired to come to town. We’ve tried that and it didn’t work, twice. Second, you bring in a veteran quarterback to compete for the starting job. No, I don’t mean Drew Stanton or Josh McCown or some other backup. No, I mean a quarterback hungry for another ring, ready to make his mark on a roster with young talent, who can take this offense and lead them to victory, along the lines of Peyton Manning to Denver. Someone who may be a salary cap casualty. I’m talking about Drew Brees or Tony Romo. Brees has restructured his contract with the Saints a billion times. Romo has officially been replaced by Dak Prescott in Dallas. He may be cut or may be willing to do a trade. Brees has a background with Sean Payton being part of the same Bill Parcells “coaching tree” as Coughlin. Am I crazy? Maybe. Are those both better options than Blake Bortles’ wobbly passes? Yes. And then third, you may have to take a look at the General Manager position. Yes, the Jaguars wanted to build through the draft – but think of how much of the starting roster has been filled by free agency. One CB, the FS, different members of the DL, two OL, and a TE, just to start. You could make the argument as well that the pass rush has clearly not been addressed. Either a coach with GM experience to provide some opinion, or an experienced GM with the ability to manage the roster as it is, find the weaknesses, and continue to build upon it.
Those, I think, are the three areas that need to be addressed, and the ways I would address them. Do you throw the Bortles out with the bathwater? No, give him some time to get his issues under control while you still have him under contract. Does this roster need to be gutted again? Absolutely not, there is a ton of talent on both sides of the ball – it’s the way that the talent is being managed and motivated that is the problem. The Jaguars have big, playmaking receivers; they have one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL who is just a rookie; they have a potentially dominant defense; they have players who desire to win – they just need the people who will lead them to victory.
Unfortunately, that is probably not going to happen until 2017 – unless something crazy happens.
Let’s get to it:
SAINTS at PANTHERS – The Panthers lost to the Chiefs (who, if I had a top 6, would be #6) in a classic fourth-quarter meltdown. The Saints lost to the Broncos in a surprising ending. I believe the Saints will go into Charlotte, put up some offense and walk out with a win.
CARDINALS at VIKINGS – Back in week 1, I would have been looking forward to seeing this game. Now, both teams are regressing, with the Cardinals barely beating a 49ers team that is basically Browns West and the Vikings being handed a loss by the Redskins. This week, I’m thinking that the Vikings may have gotten enough of a slap in the face by Washington to wake up and bring a win to the home crowd. I’m saying Vikings here.
BILLS at BENGALS – The Bills, when we last saw them, squeaked out a close loss against the Seahawks and did better than many of us thought they would. The Bengals just got held to 20 points and a close loss on Monday night. Who will win this game? That’s a great question and I think the answer lies with each team’s ability to score points. Here, I like the Bills. They only have one more win than Cincy but I think their defense can hold players like Eifert and Green back.
BEARS at GIANTS – The Giants are a surprise – I honestly did not think they were going to do much this year, especially after their three-game losing streak – but they have since put up a four-game win streak and have earned second place in their division. The Bears continue to be not good, whether due to coaching, motivation, or injuries, and they have just lost a key offensive lineman to injury and a star wideout to PEDs. The Giants should and will win this.
STEELERS at BROWNS – If Pittsburgh needed a feel-good game after getting beat by Dallas, then boy do they have a good one. The Steelers should lay 30 or 40 on the Browns here and head back to the Steel City with a big win.
BUCS at CHIEFS – The Chiefs are on a roll, especially at home, and the Bucs aren’t stopping them. The Bucs put up plenty of points against a bad Bears team last week but I don’t think they have the answer for the Chiefs’ defense. The Chiefs will win this one.
RAVENS at COWBOYS – And here’s another team on a roll. An 8-win streak is pretty good for the Cowboys, but when you have an offensive rookie of the year candidate in at QB and a potential MVP candidate in at RB combined with a now-healthy Dez Bryant, can you really be that surprised? The Cowboys should give their home crowd a nice win before the traditional short-week Thanksgiving game.
JAGUARS at LIONS – I’ve said what I want to say about the Jaguars and I do not think they will win this week. The Lions have given up some perplexing games in the few they have lost this season but in my opinion that is the hallmark of a Jim Caldwell-coached team. The Lions are getting hot and may come out and straight up win the NFC North, you heard it here first (although the North is kind of a weak division otherwise). The Lions will also get a win before their Thanksgiving Day game.
TITANS at COLTS – Could we be looking at a Titans-led AFC South? It’s possible, and DeMarco Murray and the efficiency of Marcus Mariota are definitely deserving of credit in that area. As a Jags fan I cannot stand the Titans but I have to give them credit, they look pretty good. Can they overcome the Colts at home, though? I’m thinking no – the Colts may give up a bunch of points but to be honest with you they have the better quarterback and the better wide receiver, and even though he is ancient Frank Gore is a great running back in his own right. I think the Colts win here.
DOLPHINS at RAMS – The Dolphins are racking up some decent wins in the first year of head coach Adam Gase and I think this is going to be another one. With the Sunday afternoon snooze-fest the Rams and Jets held last week, I don’t believe L.A.’s offense can keep up with the Dolphins and so Miami will head back to the east coast with a win.
PATRIOTS at 49ERS – Can you say “bounce-back game” for the Patriots any clearer than this? The Pats should win this easily.
EAGLES at SEAHAWKS – I can’t think of a much better nomination for GAME OF THE WEEK – Philly is coming off a spankin’ of the Falcons, and the Seahawks took down the vaunted Patriots in week 10, and they are meeting up in a better Battle of the Birds than what the Eagles hosted last week. Can Carson Wentz go into Seattle and lead his team to a victory? I’m not sure but I think that if they stick with what worked against the Falcons, they will have a good shot. I’m going to go against what will likely be the popular pick and say the Eagles will win this one, although it may be tough.
PACKERS at REDSKINS – Both of these teams are surprising in different ways. The Packers got spanked by the Titans and have three straight losses coming into this game. The Redskins look respectable, and not the joke we thought they would be. The Packers just look vulnerable and I see them taking an uncharacteristic “year off” from the playoffs. I like the Redskins to win here, although I think it will be a very hard-fought game.
TEXANS at RAIDERS – This looks like a game and smells like a game but probably won’t feel like much of a game. This will be played in Mexico City and will be heavily advertised by the NFL, but this game will be all Raiders. The Texans haven’t won by much when they have won, and have gotten dominated when they’ve lost. The Raiders are hot right now and I think they are a powerhouse that even the best teams will need to plan to contend with – and the Texans are definitely not a “best team.” I think that the Raiders will return from Mexico with a win, and a decisive one at that.