The Jags Upheaval; Mayfield disses Hue Jackson; The Bills’ tweet revenge: Just another week in the NFL. We’ll give you all the 2018 NFL news you can handle in under three minutes (Disclaimer: you can stay longer than three minutes. Time is relative). Here’s the best—or worst—of the NFL from Week 12.
Jaguars Locking Up Dubious Crown As Most Disappointing Team
It must feel like a million years ago to fans in Jacksonville but in mid-September the Jaguars were 2-0, fresh off a revenge win against the big, bad Patriots, the team they lost to in the AFC Championship Game last season. Legitimate Super Bowl contenders, by all accounts.
Now the Jags are 3-8, losers of seven straight games, and with their season in flames, they’ve fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and benched quarterback Blake Bortles for Cody Kessler.
All of which makes them practically a lock for the honor of 2018's most disappointing NFL team. Would anyone argue otherwise? Well, probably. After all, it has been a rough year for fans with high hopes in Green Bay, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and doubly so in New York, though only the Giants, not the Jets, came into the season with sizable expectations.
Of all this season’s underachievers, however, the Jaguars looked to be disaster-proof, at the very least, because of their superior, youthful defense. And while that defense hasn’t been as dominant as expected, it also hasn’t been the root of the problem, ranking 7th in the NFL in yards allowed.
Instead, the Jags’ mistake was in believing in Bortles yet again and giving him a three-year, $54 million contract extension rather than finding another quarterback. As ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck said Monday, “Anybody could look at that team last year and see the quarterback was the only thing holding them back.”
This season, Bortles’ inability to throw downfield with accuracy is such that he’s averaging 6.97 yards per completion, which ranks 29th in the NFL. Largely as a result, the Jags rank 28th in the league in scoring, at 17.9 points per game.
And so coach Doug Marrone has seen enough. But Kessler isn’t regarded as a long-term answer, so the Jags could be shopping for a QB in the off-season.
Better late than never?
Why Is Baker Mayfield So Mad At Hue Jackson?
So it turns out maybe we didn’t see everything that went on in that Browns’ training camp, even with all of HBO’s Hard Knocks cameras on site. Hue Jackson must have done something to make Baker Mayfield hold a serious grudge, after all.
Did Mayfield discover that his coach had a secret man-crush on Sam Darnold or something?
On Sunday, the No. 1 overall draft pick rebuffed Jackson’s attempt at a post-game hug after the Browns’ win over Bengals, saying that he didn’t like the idea of his fired coach taking a coaching job with the division-rival Bengals.
However, when criticized for not being more gracious, with ESPN analyst Damien Woody noting that Mayfield had once transferred within the Big 12 Conference from Texas Tech to Oklahoma, the rookie quarterback fired back on Instagram, hinting at a deeper issue.
“Not even comparable,” Mayfield posted. “I didn’t lose 30+ games, be fake, and then do that. I wasn’t going to have a scholarship. Good try though, buddy.”
Whatever his issue with Jackson, all we know for sure is that the coaching change has been good for Mayfield. In the three games since then, he has thrown nine TD passes vs. one interception, and the Browns are 2-1, as opposed to 2-4-1 under the Jackson-Haley dynamic, not to mention Baker also won Offensive Rookie of the Month.
And Mayfield didn’t hesitate to explain the success:
“We have people that we believe in calling the plays now.”
Bills Get Tweet Revenge
If there was anybody in Buffalo more delighted than Josh Allen on Sunday, it had to be the people in charge of the Bills’ Twitter account. Oh baby, were they waiting for such an opportunity.
Before the season Jaguars’ outspoken cornerback Jalen Ramsey had slammed Allen in a GQ magazine story, labeling him “trash” as a quarterback, and then replied in sarcastic fashion to a Bills’ tweet picturing the rookie’s first training camp pass, commenting:
“That’s a pick waiting to happen.”
So the clock had barely run out on the 24-21 win over the Jaguars Sunday when Bills’ Twitter re-posted Ramsey’s reply with a new comment:
Meanwhile, Ramsey was only semi-complimentary of Allen afterward, saying, “He did enough for the team to get a win,” claiming he was more effective running than passing.
Allen, for his part, didn’t take the bait, saying, “I just want to win football games.”
‘Til they tweet again.
Reich ‘Lucky’ Trick Play Didn’t Kill His QB
When a coach-of-the-year candidate comes dangerously close to becoming the Dunce of the Year in the NFL:
There was Andrew Luck, on his way Sunday to becoming only the third quarterback in NFL history to throw for three or more TD passes in eight straight games, when Colts’ coach Frank Reich called a trick play on 4th-and-1 with backup Andre Brissett in the shotgun and Luck lined up at wide receiver.
The play was designed for Brissett to run, but when the Dolphins left Luck uncovered, everything changed...
The Dome went silent…until the star QB bounced up, ahem, lucky to be no worse for wear. The in-the-hunt Colts went on to win their fifth straight game, Luck continued to push himself into the MVP conversation, and Reich sheepishly admitted to his coaching life flashing before his eyes.
“I thought, ‘if he’s hurt, you guys are going to kill me,’ “ the coach said at his press conference.
If by “you guys,” Reich meant the entire population of Indiana and football universe, he may have been right.
Streaking Texans Making History
Are the Houston Texans a Team of Destiny?
On Monday night they became the first team in NFL history to win eight straight games after starting the season 0-3. With a 97-yard TD run, Lamar Miller became the first running back in NFL history with two TD runs of 95 yards or longer. And Deshaun Watson became the first quarterback in NFL history to come back from ACL surgery and play like a cross between Brett Favre and Russell Wilson.
Ok, there’s nothing official about that last part, but it does explain why the Texans have to be taken seriously as Super Bowl contenders. Well, that and the fact that J.J. Watt scares the dickens out of every opposing quarterback in the league.
And now the Texans are also playing for their late owner, Bob McNair, to whom coach Bill O'Brien dedicated the win in his post-game locker room speech.
Destiny + Deshaun could be a formidable combination come playoff time.
*Out-of-market games only. Select int'l games excluded.