What happened?

Jim Rome
August 31, 2020 - 10:48 am
Jacksonville Jaguars

USA Today



Jacksonville, how are you feeling today? I ask because your NFL team has had itself a day. In fact, the last few years, they’ve had themselves a number of quote, days.  But I’d put yesterday right near top: because this particular day involved them trading disgruntled star Yannick Ngakoue to the Vikings.

The fact that Jacksonville was trading the Pro Bowl defensive end wasn’t a surprise. He’s wanted out for a long time. And Jacksonville had wanted a first round pick for a long time. But they didn’t get it because everyone around the league knew, no one hated anything as much as Ngakoue hated being a Jag. So the Jags had to settle for a second round pick and a conditional fifth round pick that might end up being a third.

And yes, I can’t wait to see what a killer like Ngakoue does in Mike Zimmer’s defense in Minnesota. They have a fierce pass rushing combo now. Arguably the best in the league.

Oh, and there’s this: the multiple reports that Ngakoue’s salary this year will be 12 million in Minnesota. That’s nearly 6 million less than what he was being paid in Jacksonville. Is that real? Could that possibly be real? Would a guy, any guy, leave that much money on the table? Did he hate the Jags so much, that he was willing to metaphorically scratch them a $6 million dollar check just so he’d never see their faces ever again. Apparently so. And what’s that say about the state of that franchise that guys will do almost anything to get the hell out. Including giving back a third of their income. 

Don’t get me wrong, and this may sound confusing, but – this is actually a Jags house. I’m not coming in here today looking for a chance to take shots at them. No national radio show has banged the drum louder or harder for the Jags than this one. You don’t need me to recap the various records I’ve set over the years when it comes to Jags content.

So this hurts me more than it hurts you. But Jacksonville, let’s be real here: you’re making this really hard on me. And it didn’t get easier for you or I this morning when you announced that Leonard Fournette was being released.

I mean, it’s not a surprise, but it’s not great when you release your first round pick after three seasons. Not just your first round pick, the fourth pick in the draft. And now he’s gone. And he’s gone in part because you just couldn’t find anyone to trade with.

As head Coach Doug Marrone said this morning: "We couldn't get anything, a fifth, a sixth, anything. We couldn't get anything."

Uh, Doug, that’s on you, not the player. What does it say that this organization drafts a guy with the fourth pick overall just three years ago and you can’t even get a sack of footballs for him now?

I’ll tell you what it says – when you look back at that 2017 draft, the Chicago Bears get blasted on a regular basis for trading up to select Mitchell Trubisky and not Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson, but let’s not sleep on the Jags here.

They passed on both those guys because they already had…let me just look here to make sure…yep, they passed on Mahomes and Watson because they already had Blake Bortles.


Just how bad does that look? Bortles isn’t even in the league right now. And you just released the guy you took instead.

And speaking of 2017, did that year really happen? Because that was the year the Jags went to the AFC Championship game. That was the year they came within one play of going to the Super Bowl. They were this close to beating the Patriots in Foxboro and punching their ticket to the biggest game ever.

And I can’t believe I’m going to say this now: that team was really good. Sure, they had to figure out how to work around Bortles, but let me run down that defense:

Pro Bowler Malik Jackson
Pro Bowler Calais Campbell
Pro Bowler Telvin Smith
Pro Bowler Jalen Ramsey
Pro Bowler AJ Bouye
Pro Bowler Yannick Ngakoue 

Do you remember that team? Do you remember Sacksonville? Do you remember Duuuuu-valllll?

Do you remember the attitude, the swagger? And the cockiness of that Jags team? I do. And it was awesome.

It was linebacker Lerentee McCray telling the world how it was after the Steelers talked junk about Jacksonville: “What’s your mom say when you say something stupid? She put a bar of soap in your mouth, right? But we ain’t your momma. We’re your stepdad. We’re going to hit you in the mouth."

To this day, an absolutely amazing line from McCray. 

And it was Jalen Ramsey guaranteeing a ring: “We are going to the Super Bowl and we are going to win that bleep. We are going to the win that bleep.”

He actually said that: and nearly, actually believed him. That’s how good they were.   That’s how close they were. But now it’s all ancient history. All of those guys are gone now. I know that time is really weird right now, but the Jags have somehow dumped six Pro Bowlers from their defense since 2017. I’m not sure what’s more impressive: the fact that they had all that talent on defense or the fact that they got rid of it all as quickly as they acquired it.

It takes a special gift to be able to identify and assemble all that talent. And it takes an even more unique gift to get rid of it all. You really have to be good to be that bad.

It’s almost like they had years of being terrible, then nearly went to the Super Bowl, and then decided, nah, we don’t like being good. This is awkward as hell. And I hate the way it feels. Like a con who gets sprung after serving ten years in jail, gets on the outside, and has this amazing new life with all this freedom and awesomeness but thinks I can’t handle this: I’m not about this life: I’m going to go knock over a liquor store and go back to what I know, where I live, what I’m good at. Prison. That’s the Jags: except they’re not criminals: just criminally bad at football; and they thought, man, I just can’t cut it here on the outside, so. Let’s just be terrible again, and go right back to what we do best: sucking at football.

Again, because I really do like these guys, I’m hoping against all hope that maybe there’s a plan. Maybe they know something the rest of the world doesn’t know. I have faith because I have I have to have faith: because this is a Jags house, but you guys are really testing that faith. I don’t care if you make yourselves look bad, just don’t make me look bad. And right about now, I’ve never looked or felt worse. And that’s on you not me.  I’ve hyped you, on the big stage for years: stop making me look so bad and do something to pick me up. I’m not playing. Do better. Much better.