Four takeaways: It’s time for a hard reset for Jaguars

Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts stiff arms Chris Claybrooks of the Jacksonville Jaguars as he runs the ball downfield during the first quarter of the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 3, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images) (Bobby Ellis, 2021 Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars’ 2020 season ended Sunday with a 28-14 loss to the Colts in Indianapolis. The Jaguars finished the season with a 1-15 record and a 15-game losing streak.

Not only is the streak the longest in Jaguars history, but it is also tied for the 16th longest in NFL history. Instead of noting my four biggest takeaways from the game, I’m going to shift to my four biggest takeaways from the season.

It’s time for operation tabula rasa

After a season like the Jaguars have just completed, a hard reset is needed. Are there coaches and personnel men who do a good job? Yes.

But considering their role in the past season, and in truth, for the past three seasons, it’s time to wipe the slate clean and start over. If the new general manager wants to rehire some of the existing people, it’s his call. Likewise, if the new head coach wants to bring back some assistants, it’s on him to make that call. Any other approach hamstrings the new hires and is not consistent in trusting the new bosses.

The next 115 days will be entertaining

The NFL draft begins on April 29 with the first round. The Jaguars will have the first pick in the first round. After what happened in the Sugar Bowl with Justin Fields outplaying Trevor Lawrence, there will be plenty of pundits, draft analysts and fans who will say that Fields should be the pick.

The Jaguars must do their due diligence, of course. But NFL scouts don’t judge prospects by just one game. Look at it this way — Lawrence is the king of the hill and Fields must knock him off the top spot without any question. I was 100% in the camp of taking Lawrence before the Sugar Bowl. Now, I’m 99.7% for Lawrence, but I’m willing to allow for new information.

Fields will have one more chance to show what he can do in a game, in the national championship game against Alabama.

Doug Marrone deserves a lot of credit as a man

Over the course of the past three seasons, the Jaguars have fallen as far as any NFL franchise has in a similar period. On Oct. 7, 2018, as the Jaguars made their way through a rainstorm from the team hotel in Kansas City to Arrowhead Stadium with the hopes of staking their claim to the top spot in the AFC.

Three weeks earlier, they had beaten the New England Patriots, avenging their controversial loss in the 2017 AFC championship game and setting themselves up for a run to the Super Bowl. Or so they thought.

The rain wasn’t the only thing that fell that day. The Chiefs whipped the Jaguars 30-14. The Jaguars’ freefall had begun. The team lost 10 of its last 12 games that season.

The Jaguars combined record since that Chiefs game is 9-35.

Despite that, despite the trouble with the relationship between certain star players and Tom Coughlin, despite the roster being stripped down this offseason, Marrone remained professional, amiable and relatable. Marrone deserves a lot of credit for that. He also deserves to be fired.

The next month could be the most important month in Jaguars history

Why? Because in that time, the Jaguars are expected to hire their new general manager and head coach. Those two decisions will plot the future of the franchise.

And it’s not just the impact that the two will have on the team on the field, but the ripple effect that will impact the business of the Jaguars, and perhaps, the future of the Lot J development, the team’s future in the city and the impact that the team will have on civic pride.

At its best, an NFL team can bring a city together, increase commerce in the hometown, and give residents a rallying point. Some studies even suggest that incumbent politicians do better when local teams are winning. If Shad Khan and whoever else is involved in the hiring decision get this right, it could change Jacksonville for the foreseeable future.

If they get it wrong, it can do the same in the opposite direction.