Disclaimer: There is some choice language in this article that may not be suitable for all ages.
The Jaguars — and their fans — are enjoying a much-needed break from football in week eight. Fresh off six straight losses, the football team from the Bold New City of the South might have reached an all-time low. Still, I know many of you have an unrelenting appetite for Jaguars content. So, I give you four storylines to follow through the Jaguars week eight bye.
Some Crazy Shit?
According to Jaguars' head coach Doug Marrone, we could on the verge of seeing some "crazy shit." "Like I said, I am, and I'm not going to bullshit anyone, I'm kind of fired up," Marrone said in a press conference on Tuesday. "And I know you guys are probably sitting like, 'What the hell's going on? How can this guy be fired up? They just lost six games in a row,' and I understand that. I totally do but I'm going to bust my ass, I mean I'm telling you now. I'm going to look at some things, I want to go a little bit outside the box. I want to challenge these coaches and challenge these players and see [what they can do]. I'm going to do whatever I can to get the best out of this team and best out of these players. I'm sure people are going to mock me for that or say whatever the hell they want, but I really don't give a shit. I'm fired up. I'm going to go after it and however it falls, it falls, but it's open for me. I've done crazy shit before. A lot of people don't know, we changed an offense four or five days prior to the opening of our season in Syracuse my last year. We just went in a whole different direction and, shit, it worked out. We took chances on some guys. We took a chance on a guy named James Robinson and he's playing his ass off. So, I'm kind of fired up, man. Let's go."
This is undoubtedly one of the stranger musings we've heard from a coach in Jacksonville. But it does raise some intriguing questions. Might the Jaguars make some significant changes to their scheme? Personnel? Coaching philosophy? Only time will tell, but it appears that Doug Marrone may have some surprises in store for the small viewing audience that the Jaguars draw on television each week. And as for Marrone being fired up, I believe that's more of a psychological play on his part. The only way for him to move forward is to block out all the losing the Jaguars have done over the last month and a half and focus on the immediate future, however bleak it may be.
The Chase for #1
Most football fans are eager to be chasing the number one spot in their respective division or the number one seed in the playoffs. But in Duval, fans are clamoring for that number one overall pick in 2021. The Jaguars are currently slotted to pick at number three overall in the upcoming NFL Draft. The way the draft order works is that if there are two teams with the same record, the higher draft selection is awarded to the team with the easiest strength of schedule (SOS). So, while there are five teams with just one win in 2020, the Jaguars hold the third pick because they have an easier SOS than all of them, but for the Giants. So the Giants currently hold the number two pick, while the winless Jets boast the top pick in the draft. With quarterback Gardner Minshew struggling in his first full-time gig as a starter in the NFL, the Jaguars' best path forward would likely be to land one of the top two quarterbacks in the draft. Trevor Lawrence is the crown jewel, but Justin Fields is an excellent consolation prize. The Jaguars won't be favored to win any games the rest of the way, so they could very easily finish the year with just one or two wins. That may not be good enough for the number one spot, but with an arsenal of draft capital, the Jaguars should be able to secure one of the top two QBs, whether they use their top pick or a trade up.
Development of Young Players
While losing now represents the brightest potential future for the Jaguars, seeing the young pieces on the roster continue to develop will be critical. DJ Chark is a Pro-Bowl caliber receiver, but he hasn't shown it in the last three weeks. He needs to get back on track. Josh Allen also has elite pass-rushing ability, but due to injuries and a lack of quality coverage on the back end, he hasn't shown the production we expected heading into the season. Can receiver Laviska Shenault and running back James Robinson continue to improve on their already stellar performances? CJ Henderson needs to continue to develop at cornerback but appears to be on the right track. K'Lavon Chaisson has struggled to transition from a two-point stance to a three-point stance. Can he show his ability to convert speed to power down the stretch? Sidney Jones, an uber-talented cornerback the Jaguars scooped off the trash heap (he was only available because of his injuries), has shined in Duval. Can he continue to look like a foundational piece? There are many other young players the Jaguars need to continue developing for the long-term. Keep a watchful eye on all the young guys for the remainder of the season.
A Coaching Change?
Many fans have been asking the question: when will the Jaguars fire the coaching staff? The answer is likely not until after the season. Several weeks ago, Shad Khan spoke about the team's current state, and he mentioned that he believes it's not how you start but how you finish. Based on that comment and his general unwillingness to make significant changes, I expect Marrone and the rest of the coaching staff will survive until the end of the season. It'd be hard to imagine them lasting much longer than that, even with the prudent Shad Khan running the show. Anything is possible with a team THIS bad.
That's all I've got for you right now, folks. It's been a tough two months... er, ummm, decades ... around these parts. But remember, the night is darkest just before the dawn.
Follow Jordan on Twitter for all the latest Jaguars news and analysis.