After a trade that saw the Jaguars ship rotational pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. to the Rams for a 2019 third round pick and a 2020 fifth round pick speculation began that the Jaguars had decided to throw in the towel on the 2018 season.
That is simply not the case.
The fact of the matter is that Dante Fowler Jr. was not an integral part of the Jaguars defense in 2018 and the team saw an opportunity to help the stability of the franchise long term by getting value for a player who was set to become a free agent after the season.
Fowler has been in on just 165 snaps in seven games this season - he was suspended for week one due to a violation of the NFL's player conduct policy - which puts him at #14 in terms of total snaps for the Jaguars on the defensive side of the ball. He's registered just two sacks and five tackles on the season. To gain a third round and fifth round pick for a guy who was nothing more than a rotational player for the Jaguars was a nice get.
Then you have to factor in that he was never going to be a Jaguar in 2019. The Jaguars have too many other pressing needs to think that it was a realistic possibility for Fowler to return next season. On the horizon are contracts for foundational pieces Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue, and Myles Jack.
This was a calculated move that made a lot of sense. Now, with four picks in the first three rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft the Jaguars now have a lot of flexibility. They'll have the ability to stockpile talent or move up to get a prized possession or two.
They had to pull the trigger on this one and that has nothing to do with tanking. In fact, based on everything coming out of the Jaguars locker room, it seems like the Jaguars might actually believe they can make a run in the second half of the season.
Calais Campbell tweeted earlier in the week: "First half of the season didn’t go as planned! Oh well...put that behind us and make sure we come out of this bye with a vengeance! #HuntingSeason Great moments come from great opportunities! #Believe I will give all that I have #EmptyTheTank".
On Wednesday, in an interview with CBS Sports Radio, Jalen Ramsey made it clear his goal is still to make it the postseason. “We do know that it hasn’t been ideal for us right now and we’re sitting here still with three wins and we know we have eight more games, so if we run the table, I mean we’re in great position going into the postseason," Ramsey said. "Once you get into the postseason anything can happen from there, so that’s where our mindset is right now and we’re very optimistic about these next eight games that we have.”
With leaders like Calais Campbell, Telvin Smith, Jalen Ramsey and Malik Jackson it seems unlikely that the Jaguars locker room will fall into disarray.
The bye week couldn't come at a better time for this Jaguars squad. It's been reported that Leonard Fournette is expected to return to the field after the bye as the Jaguars take on the division rival Colts. And there are several other players that could use some rest to help aid nagging injuries.
At this point, the Jaguars are an extreme long shot to make the post season, but it's not out of the realm of possibilities. This team will fight. With an incredibly talented defense and offense that should be able to run the ball again with the return of Leonard Fournette and addition of Carlos Hyde, these Jaguars shouldn't be written off just yet.
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