Starting with a first-quarter injury to their handsome and handsomely paid free agent acquisition (Nick Foles, remember him?), the Jacksonville Jaguars 2019 season descended quickly into chaos. The writing may have been on the wall well before that, though, as while we certainly loved Jalen Ramsey’s training camp performance art, then-VP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin decidedly did not.
Perhaps the 2019 Jags were doomed from the start.
And though the season was not without highlights and silver linings–Josh Lambo emerging as perhaps the league’s most reliable kicker, rookie Josh Allen’s setting a team record for sacks by a newbie, and 6th round draft pick Gardner Minshew’s six wins AND glorious mustache–to many, the entire campaign signaled a need for change, resulting in a nearly complete roster overhaul. Coach Doug Marrone is back, notably. As is GM David Caldwell. But the nucleus of the 2018 team the two built–the one that was a “Miles Jack Wasn’t Down” away from a trip to the Super Bowl–has been largely dismantled; shipped out for draft picks, or released for a better cap number.
And so it’s been said that 2020 will be a painful year for Jags fans. Indeed, according to people who are paid to comment on such things (as well as those who use computers to predict the future) the Jags will stink in 2020. Not only is the team ranked near the bottom in nearly every reputable power ranking, ESPN’s FPI–which recently cranked out a variety of predictions for the NFL season–expects the Jags to have the league’s least wins (4.9). They also favor the Jags to land the first pick in next year’s draft.
The Jags do have a wild card in their swagger-y second year QB, though. Minshew was the most consistent rookie quarterback in the league last year. And one would think the fact that he was able to lead a team in such turmoil to six wins would give the Jags a leg up with pundits (and math) over other awful teams like, say, the Bengals.
Quarterback remains, far and away, the most important position on the field. In 14 starts, Minshew had more touchdowns (21) than highly touted rookie QB Kyler Murray (20) while throwing less interceptions (6 to 12 respectively). He also proved he could make plays when things break down, grind out an ugly win, and bounce back from a tough loss.
For his efforts, Minshew’s been named the starter heading into next season. For better or worse, he’ll be the face of the Jags in 2020. You can put your trust in computers. Or you can believe in the mustache. Here’s to hoping the mustache prevails.