How did that happen? Well, start at the top.
Tom Coughlin is their Executive Vice President of Football Ops. If that title sounds familiar, it's the same title Sashi Brown has with the Browns. Collectively, they have about 50 years of football-related experience, as in picking players...coaching players...leading players...yeah, to Super Bowl titles. Which is to say, Coughlin does. It's no accident that since he's come aboard, the Jaguars have gone from a miserable, coaching-carousel culture to an actual contender. A team that hasn't had a winning record since 2007 is now 6-3 and fighting for a division title, while another team that hasn't had a winning record since 2007 is, well, bottoming out. Again.
Coughlin, and head coach Doug Marrone, are no-nonsense guys. Leonard Fournette learned that a couple of weeks ago when he was benched after violating team rules. Think about that. The Jaguars, making a playoff push, were willing to sit their leading rusher, a guy who's Top 7 in the NFL and may have been Top 3 at this point if not for that one-game suspension, rather than let the dysfunction continue. Would the Browns do that? Maybe. But it took 'em half a season of bad football, lack of leadership and trashing the trip to London before they acted on Kenny Britt.
Anyway, the Jaguars' blueprint...run the football, compensate for an average quarterback, and play ferocious defense...is something the Browns should emulate. But they don't. Fournette averages 21 carries per game. Isaiah Crowell? 13. Maybe that'll change, along with the weather. Maybe it won't. But it's a good way to hide a quarterback like Blake Bortles, who's never lived up to being a Top 3 pick, and this season has done just enough...11 touchdowns...to offset his 11 turnovers, including 7 interceptions. And as for that defense...
Tashaun Gipson is doing for them what he should still be doing for us. Ball hawking. He wanted to stay. Sashi showed him the door, along with some other key vets. This didn't have to be a complete implosion. The Jaguars are an interesting mix of young guys, like Fournette, and proven veterans, like Calais Campbell, who cost 'em $60 million during the offseason, one mil for every sack he's racked up in his career, including the 11 this season.
Maybe a year from now we'll be watching some of our Browns come into their own, and maybe the decision-makers will add the right pieces along the way to complement the core of the past two drafts. Until then, the current plan looks like a disaster, bad enough to have us thinking "man, I wish we were the Jaguars". And that is incredible.
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