After an embarrassing performance against Oakland at home last week, what were we expecting from the Jaguars on national television on the road against the Titans? Fire? Enthusiasm? Heart? Desire? Passion? Probably all of of that.
What did we get? Lackluster, undisciplined, half-hearted and just about every other negative adjective you can think of in the first half. CBS announcer Jim Nantz said the Jaguars were “out of sync.” And he was being kind.
Between Blake Bortles continued struggles and no running game, the offense produced 40 yards in the first half. The defense was on the field a lot, but seemed to be going through the motions in the second quarter as the Titans rolled up a 27-0 halftime lead.
Facing 3rd and 12 from their own 3, the Titans gave the ball to DeMarco Murray in the middle of the line, expecting to punt. Instead, Murray bounced it outside and ran 19 yards for the first down. It was the third time a Jaguars cornerback failed to play the contain, allowing the running back to step outside with nobody behind him. It’s the kind of undisciplined play that has been a hallmark of the 2016 Jaguars.
It was astounding how poorly the Jaguars played, so much so that both Bill Cowher and Deon Sanders called the players out at halftime saying they quit on their coach, Gus Bradley. It certainly appeared that way. Jogging on the backside of plays, free-lancing, not finishing routes. The Jaguars looked like they wanted to be somewhere else.
After a big pow-wow with Shad Khan, the coaches and players as well as GM Dave Caldwell could have produced something different. But instead it was a meltdown in front of everybody.
That’s the kind of thing that Khan won’t stand for. Back-to-back embarrassing losses, this one on national television. It won’t surprise anybody if Khan makes a move on Gus Bradley and the coaching staff simply to try something else. Whatever Gus was building in his first three years has crumbled. Half of the players bought in but the other half, including some of the new additions this year, haven’t gotten on board. Rookies are doing their own thing. Veteran free agents aren’t sure which side of the equation they should be on. There’s too much talent on the team to be losing this way. There are too many good guys on the team to react the way they have when things are going bad.
What happened? Where did that team that took Green Bay to the wire go? It appears the locker room couldn’t quite bring the rookies into the fold of personal accountability and team first. For all of his talent, Jalen Ramsey said it all when he said he wouldn’t be “disrespected” and would fight again if given the same circumstances. It’s that kind of “me first” that big time talented players have to push into the background for the greater good of the team. Maybe the coaches said something to him during the week but that’s the attitude that gets you beat. Dante Fowler showed it in the game getting a personal foul for punching a guy. He probably should have been thrown out of the game. The locker room is divided, nobody on the same page, and an embarrassing, blowout loss ensued.
It was a grand experiment that failed in the end. Gus Bradley wanted to empower the players with accountability to each other, let them play without stress and reach their maximum potential. No fear. But you have to have the right players and the right personalities to turn the reigns over to a group of 53 players when all but two of them are in their 20’s. They couldn’t handle it. Bradley is a really good guy and a good coach but in this situation his big idea it didn’t work. If he gets another shot, a veteran squad might react differently. This one needed to.