JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars have been active this week, moving on from some veteran players. That has led many fans to say they are “tanking” for Trevor Lawrence, the Clemson quarterback who’s expected to be one of the top picks — if not the No. 1 pick — in the 2021 NFL Draft.
While tanking might not be the right word, it does appear that the Jaguars are in the middle of a rebuild. Some of the veteran players that the Jaguars have cut ties with just didn’t fit what the team wants to do now. This season will be filled with growing pains from a lot of young players, but don’t expect head coach Doug Marrone and quarterback Gardner Minshew II to just mail it in.
“I think people see it from afar and see, ‘Oh they’re losing their biggest names.’ But that’s not how we feel,” Minshew said Thursday. “And I mean, realistically, I know if we’re tanking, Coach [Doug] Marrone, Dave Caldwell and [I] are probably going to be out of jobs. So I know us three and a lot of those other guys in the locker room are not going to let that crap happen. So I feel very confidently in everybody’s desire to win and that’s absolutely not anything that we envision happening.”
This offseason, the Jaguars traded several veteran players away. The purge of the roster has continued this week with the trade of Yannick Ngakoue, the release of Leonard Fournette and the trade of Ronnie Harrison.
Moves like this less than two weeks from the kickoff of week one don’t exactly inspire confidence.
But Marrone said if the team is tanking, no one told him because he knows his job is on the line.
“I can’t speak for anyone, like I said, I’m not going to speak for anyone else. But if that’s the case, then the realization is that if that happens, I’m not going to be here. Right? At the end of the day, if I don’t win enough games or do enough with this team, I don’t foresee me still being employed. So I’m doing everything I can to make sure that we have the best team to win football games,” Marrone said. “I mean that’s as simple as I can be on it.”
While the Jaguars don’t appear to be contenders this year, they do have a lot of young talented players. And Minshew said with youth comes a different level of excitement.
“I think it’s a double edge sword. I think experience really does help you learn. I know from my last year, getting those reps is better than any classroom learning or practice learning that you can do. But I’m also very excited, I think with that youth comes a lot of energy, a lot of excitement and not much ego. I think everybody is coming together in a great way,” Minshew said. “And more than anything, I’m just excited to get everybody out there for the first time and really see what we’ve got.”
The Jaguars have until Saturday to trim their roster to 53 players, and there will be some difficult cuts along the way.