Like any other group, a football team is made up of a lot of different individuals. Guys come from the city, the suburbs, farms and ranches, from all kinds of different backgrounds. The common thread is that they’re all tremendous athletes and have supreme self-confidence in their athletic skill. They need both to get to the highest level of the game.
That skill is on display every time the ball is snapped. The self-confidence manifests itself a lot of different ways, but most directly in the locker room.
How players react to questions after a loss like the Jaguars suffered against Washington reveals where they see themselves in the big picture.
As a team leader, Calais Campbell never shrinks from that responsibility whether it’s dealing with his teammates, the coaching staff, the media or fans. His assessment of the Jaguars issues starts with the performance on the field.
“This season, we’ve been pressing and pressing, close to making plays, but just not making enough to win,” he said.
“It’s one of those years where things didn’t go well for us. At the end of the day, we have a lot of talent and a lot to play for. If we can get some momentum going into next year, I believe with the people we have here, coaching staff included, and the players, we can be successful going forward.”
Interesting that unprompted, Campbell gave a vote of confidence to the coaching staff, in a de-facto way, noting that he didn’t think they were the issue in 2018.
Calais showed once again that he’s the kind of guy you hope stays in Jacksonville when his career is over. He’s a positive influence no matter what he’s doing.
“Man, I’m worried about everybody here,” team captain Telvin Smith said before leaving. “Today, I dedicated my game to [Barry] Church. You don’t ever want to start a season with somebody and end up losing [them]. At the end of the day, you’re a part of it, you know what I mean? Yeah, it’s his job to go out and do whatever, but it’s family. You start a journey with everybody, you finish it together and then work it out.”
Clearly Smith didn’t think releasing Church last week was the right thing to do. It did seem strange that a veteran player would be cut loose before the season was over. It’s not a money thing, they owe him regardless. And as a solid locker room guy, something more was going on there than just freeing up a roster spot.
Contrast those comments with Jalen Ramsey’s when asked about Doug Marrone’s job after such a disappointing season.
“I ain’t worried about nobody but myself,” he said.
I suppose you could interpret that in a lot of ways, but it’s a bad look from your most talented player even give the impression that it’s all about him.
Ramsey has Hall of Fame talent. If he stays healthy, he could be one of the all-time greats. Great cover skills, high football IQ, and that tackle against Indianapolis to end the game is one of the great-unsung plays of the season. But manufactured celebrity is just that: manufactured. He’s already created a reputation as a great player in the league. Giving himself a nickname and calling attention to himself won’t enhance what fans, sponsors, coaches or teammates think about him.
While injuries have decimated the Jaguars and wrecked their ability on offense, they’ve also gotten their share of bad breaks. Against Washington, a couple of tipped passes went against them and shifted the momentum to the visitors. Add to that a couple of holes on the defensive line on the last drive that weren’t there for Adrian Peterson all day, and the result is a three-point loss.
“I think the whole deal is when you’re losing that’s where it always seems like [that],” said Head Coach Doug Marrone. “I think at the end of the day you’ve got to fight to try to create those breaks that go in your favor.”
Two road games left with perhaps a chance to play the spoiler as their only team motivation. But Abry Jones gave some perspective to how to approach these next two weeks.
“It’s already a bad year team wise and you don’t want to end it on a bad year personally and I think that’s what a lot of guys are doing and I think it’s a good thing.”