A quick programming note before we dive in: next week will be the traditional “it’s Thanksgiving, I’m not writing much” edition of the column. Also, it will be released on Wednesday of next week, November 21st. I mean, are YOU going to be bored on the internet on Thanksgiving morning? Don’t answer that. Watch the Macy’s parade.
The Jaguars were defeated by the Colts last weekend and the offense actually did their jobs, but the defense… did not. And that’s putting it mildly. Multiple touchdowns allowed to tight ends that were slower than most of your defensive backs just shouldn’t happen, and there were blown coverages all over the field Sunday. It was ridiculous. I am kind of looking forward to the rematch of Colts/Jags if only because the players on defense that seem to give a crap will look at it as a revenge game, but… man. To see the offense look at least halfway decent, but the defense now be the problem is disheartening to say the least.
What’s going on? The onus lies in two areas: players and scheme. The safeties were regularly beat on Sunday by the Colts. Jalen Ramsey had to cover for Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson multiple times. Last year Church provided a lot of great leadership for the team, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Additionally, Telvin Smith looked a little lost. Is that due to scheme or mental issues? Whatever the case, it needs to be fixed. Personally, I think backup safety Ronnie Harrison has been a stud, even if he’s a rookie. He needs to be placed in the starting lineup. That might help shore up some issues. The Jaguars are hopefully getting AJ Bouye back this week, which will help as well and allow their nickel corner to truly play nickel. But man, it seems like defensive coordinator Todd Wash has been figured out. When you load the defense with that many playmakers, they shouldn’t look lost. When an offensive line as young as Indianapolis’ is your opponent, you should at least sack Andrew Luck once or twice. Something’s up.
Will it continue this week against Pittsburgh? I don’t know. The Jags always seem to elevate their game when they play the Steelers. I don’t think it will be enough for them to win. Would I love to see a miraculous turnaround, and a playoff push from the Jags? Absolutely. Will they get there? Probably not.
Why? Jacksonville has three losses in the division already. They don’t own a tiebreaker over anyone in the AFC South. Unless the rest of the division has a mental breakdown and loses out while the Jags win out, Jacksonville will not win the division. So they have to hope for the Wild Card. What’s the problem there? Well, again, unless a team has a complete breakdown, the first Wild Card spot is locked up by the Chargers, who currently sit at 7-2 and are second in the AFC West, which will likely be won by the Chiefs. Again, the Titans and Colts all currently hold a better record, as well as tiebreakers, over the Jags for the second spot. We will see how everything shakes out, and they’re not mathematically eliminated at this point.
So, smartypants, you may ask, how would you fix the Jaguars?
I’m glad you asked, dear reader.
First, I would drop Dave Caldwell like a hot potato. He’s missed on too much stuff and stuck too hard to “his” players. Why is Rashad Greene still on the roster? Because he’s a Caldwell guy. Drop him.
Second, I would drop both coordinators. Todd Wash and Nate Hackett do ok but I think they need more development in positional coaching before coordinating again. Who would I replace them with? Hear me out: on defense, I would hire Jack Del Rio as coordinator. He spent three years as Denver’s DC turning them into an elite defensive unit. Yes, it helped that they had star players like Aqib Talib, Demarcus Ware, and Von Miller. Hey, look at that, the Jaguars have star players too. Also, I think he has the scheme that will work with the talent (he’s not afraid to change from zone to man, and he’s not afraid to be aggressive) and also he’s had a lot of head coaching experience, which gives him the perspective on how the trends in the league are going (more passing offense). On offense, I would bring in Kevin O’Connell, who currently is the QB coach and passing game coordinator for the Redskins. They are having an unexpectedly excellent year and he seems to be able to take advantage of the talent he has on hand.
Player-wise, the Jaguars are currently over the 2019 salary cap. They need to release or restructure a lot of guys to get under it. I would release Blake Bortles and take the cap hit there, or trade him. The Jaguars can probably find a trade partner for him; if they could for Blaine Gabbert then surely they can for Blake, so that everyone comes out of the situation okay. I would jettison Andrew Norwell and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, who have not been worth the money they were signed, and I would not sign Donte Moncrief or Keelan Cole to a new deal. I would also cut DJ Hayden, Barry Church, Tashaun Gipson, and Marcell Dareus. I would attempt a team-friendly deal with Calais Campbell, because he is still a good player.
In the draft, I would highly consider taking a quarterback in round one. Also, I would draft a TE, non-project WR, FS, and a lineman on each side of the ball.
Free agency wise, if Joe Flacco becomes available, I would do what it takes to sign him. He immediately makes your team better. Trey Flowers may come out of New England, and he’s who I would take to replace Dareus on the defense. Golden Tate is a bit of a journeyman but after whiffing on Donte Moncrief and letting Allen Robinson walk, the Jags need a guy to be reliable.
Those are the moves I would make. Do they make more sense than what the Jags are doing now? I’m not sure, but it sounds a lot better than turning on the TV with dread at 1PM on Sunday.
THE AARON IT OUT COACHING CHANGE FORECAST
Here are the coaches that I see not being with their teams come the Monday after the end of the season:
Hue Jackson – Browns – GONE. I do not expect Gregggggg Williams to stay with the team.
Jason Garrett – Cowboys. He has presided over seasons of disappointment for far too long.
Vance Joseph – Broncos. Elway can’t hit on them all. This was a bad hire, and it’s starting to show big-time.
Todd Bowles – Jets. They’re a train wreck.
Jon Gruden – Raiders. Will it happen? Probably not. Should it happen? Uhhh yes.
Sean McDonough – Bills. He might get a flyer because his QB has been injured most of the season.
Dirk Koetter – Bucs. This season has been a disaster for him.
John Harbaugh – Ravens. All reports indicate he’s unhappy and ready to dip out.
AARON IT OUT TOP FIVE
PICKS AND PREDICTIONS
PACKERS @ SEAHAWKS – Green Bay always has an issue going into Seattle, but I don’t think it will break them tonight. As long as they have Aaron Rodgers, they’ll find a way to win.
GB 21 SEA 17
TITANS @ COLTS – The Titans looked brilliant against the Pats last week, but come in to face a healthy elite QB this week. The Colts have shored up a lot of their problems and may be looking for a return to dominance. This may determine a wild card playoff spot.
TEN 20 IND 30
BUCS @ GIANTS – Nah.
TB 3 NYG 7
STEELERS @ JAGUARS – I said what I was going to say about the Jags up there. Hopefully they can stop the Steelers. But the Steelers are on a five-game winning streak, and I’m not sure they can be stopped.
PIT 27 JAX 24
PANTHERS @ LIONS – The Panthers will bounce back from a Thursday night thumping, and the Lions will continue to look like lost kittens.
CAR 28 DET 21
COWBOYS @ FALCONS – Can we just sit here and reflect on how great it was that Cleveland beat the Falcons? Both of these teams are just looking kind of pathetic.
DAL 10 ATL 17
BENGALS @ RAVENS – They say that Robert Griffin III is getting ready to start at QB, but you and I both know Lamar Jackson will get the start if Joe Flacco can’t go. Cincinatti’s been exposed to the point of firing their defensive coordinator.
CIN 15 BAL 21
TEXANS @ REDSKINS – This will be a solid game that people will enjoy watching. Washington is surprising everyone with their success and is looking like a top NFC team this year… well, behind the Rams and Saints, at least. Houston will see some adversity. Can they overcome it?
HOU 24 WSH 30
RAIDERS @ CARDINALS – Watch a movie, or a Christmas movie, or make plans, or something, other than watching this game.
OAK 5 ARI 12
BRONCOS @ CHARGERS – The Broncos will get their butts handed to them in this game. Will John Elway make a midseason coaching change? (Probably not.)
DEN 17 LAC 35
EAGLES @ SAINTS – This looked like a good game, a long time ago. Now, it looks like another day in the park for New Orleans.
PHI 20 NO 49
VIKINGS @ BEARS – I’m looking forward to this – it may show us who is #1 in the NFC North. It also may be a defensive snooze-fest. Go Vikings, I guess?
MIN 24 CHI 21
CHIEFS @ RAMS – The Game of the Week is on Monday night – two offensive powerhouses slug it out. Who will win? Well, the Chiefs have some defense, and the Rams have better defense. It doesn’t matter, because whoever has the ball last will win if you ask me.
KC 49 LAR 56