By Julie Dixon // @ABroncoNole
Some people think the Jacksonville Jaguars flipped their team in one season. Wrong. When Shad Khan hired General Manager Dave Caldwell, he began four year long journey.
Caldwell drafted Blake Bortles, then went about the next three years drafting talent while removing older players with big contracts. In 2015 Bortles threw 35 touchdowns, but a ton of interceptions and the defense wasn’t good.
In 2016, the defense started taking hold, but Bortles was playing with two dislocated shoulders and a bum wrist. Doug Marrone, who had been hired that season to fix the OL, was moved up to head coach when Gus Bradley was fired.
Nathaniel Hackett was moved up from QB coach to OC and Bortles immedielty did better, even hurt. The team spent the season losing close games, but you could see they were so near to busting out.
2017, Khan hires Tom Coughlin as a VP and Caldwell gives up some power for this to occur. He could’ve left in a snit, but instead saw the wisdom of bringing back the disciplinarian with a nose for details. With Marrone the official HC, the three got to work building a tough team. They continued their three (or four depending on your thoughts on Bortles) years of first round hits, plus signed big names to fill gaps.
This team, even with a still ailing Bortles, won two play off games and one early whistle away from a SB. For this, Khan rewarded the trio with four year contracts. In addition, this is a big deal beyond them because players love consistency and security in coaching staffs. Especially ones that win.
These three bring an eye for raw talent (Caldwell), an eye for how to develop them (Marrone) an eye for vets and a focus on the small stuff (Coughlin). You could say, having the third eye was the one with extra sight.
Jacksonville, under the watchful eye of Shad and his son, Tony, have done things the right way. Made a plan, didn’t panic and brought in the right pieces to right the ship.
The only question that remains is: since they and Minnesota are the most attractive teams for Kirk Cousins, as far as teams set to win now, do they make a play for him? Or stick with Bortles?
The Jags don’t just have a team set up to win, they also give more bang for the buck than almost any team because there’s no state income tax, plus the cost of living in Jacksonville is lower than most cities with teams. This means that they could offer him 20% less than Denver and still be even, and 14% less than Minneapolis.
Based on these contracts keeping the triad together, their winning ways and a great place to live, the Jags are a team poised to keep winning.
Talk Jaguars with Julie on Twitter // @ABroncoNole