Former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Blaine Nye once said, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but who gets the blame.”
Of course, there’s a lot more talk about blame when a team is losing, and the Jacksonville Jaguars find themselves in that situation after seven consecutive losses that dropped them to a 3-8 record a year after they were in the AFC title game in New England.
It’s time for the Jaguars to play the Blame Game. So who gets the blame?
Coach Doug Marrone has been quick to put it on himself, but he seemed to point a finger at offensive coordinator Nathan Hackett when he fired Hackett on Monday.
Marrone then benched five-year quarterback Blake Bortles and handed Cody Kessler the starting job.
Benching Bortles made sense. The only question is why he waited so long. Kessler may not be the answer, but he could have made the move two weeks ago when the team was at 3-6 and still had a chance to make a run.
But if Marrone was going to bench Bortles, why should Hackett get fired?
Hackett has gotten a lot of criticism for his play-calling, but he had the difficult job of coaching Bortles, who is mistake-prone and leads the league in interceptions and turnovers since he was drafted on the first round in 2014.
Hackett deserved the chance to see what he could do with Kessler at quarterback.
Instead quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich was named the play-caller.
Then there is the question of whether Tom Coughlin, who was handed the job of running the football operation two years ago and installed an outdated run-first philosophy and made numerous personnel mistakes, should take responsibility for this year’s disaster.
The buck would seem to stop at his desk. He is in charge of the football operation.
Coughlin, though, is not the type to take the blame.
He defended his moves, going so far as saying he would “put the gloves on” to defend his moves.
He made the comments in a 1010XL radio interview after refusing numerous requests from print media reporters for an interview. He appeared to promote his charity, The Jay Fund.
He noted he thinks they were a whistle away from the Super Bowl when Myles Jack was ruled down after recovering a fumble in New England.
“So tell me everyone out there what they’re going to do in that circumstances about your football team?” Coughlin asked. “Aren’t you going to fill in other pieces and try to be as good as you can be? And we tried, didn’t we?”
Well, Tom, you may have tried, but you again didn’t address the quarterback situation. He bypassed both Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in 2017 to take running back Leonard Fournette, who has a history of being injury-prone.
And he bypassed Lamar Jackson, who is 2-0 in his first two starts in Baltimore to take defensive lineman Taven Bryan, who sees limited action, in the 2018 draft.
Coughlin also defended his run-and-play-defense philosophy even though it is a passing era.
“Our formula a year ago was play great defense, run the ball and do a superb job of play action,” Coughlin said. “Obviously, I still believe in that very much, but if you’re going to rush the football, you’ve got to have explosive plays. You’ve got to get the ball down the field.”
Hey, Tom, Bortles is not the quarterback to get explosive plays.
His stats this year are actually similar to the ones he had last year. He only thrives when everything is right around him.
Coughlin did a terrible job of self-scouting and was fooled by the success of last year.
He ignored the fact they beat five backup quarterbacks, so the defense often played with the lead and created turnovers.
He ignored the fact that several players had career years and that they had virtually no injuries. Injuries are part of pro football. It is not surprising they were hit by them this year .
He also said of the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, “Their major scheme is a play-action scheme. It really is. And they can keep eight in or seven in at any time, but the accuracy and the ability to get open going down the field (is a key).”
Really? Has he watched the Rams and Chiefs offense? Does it remind you of the Jaguars offense? Could Bortles do what Mahomes and Jared Goff do? The answer is no.
Then there are all the penalties and the fight that got Fournette ejected and suspended for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.
“The way we behave on the field, I mean it’s ridiculous, some of the penalties,” he said. “So there’s a lot of things that are going to get addressed and are being addressed.”
That sounds like he is blaming Marrone and getting ready to throw him under the bus.
Coughlin ignores the fact he drafted Fournette over two quarterbacks who appear to be stars in the making.
The one person who will decide where the blame goes is owner Shad Khan.
Is Khan going to allow Coughlin to try to fix the situation when he still thinks his run philosophy in a passing era will work? Will he let Coughlin double down on an outdated philosophy?
Will Khan realize he needs to replace both Coughlin and GM Dave Caldwell and get a fresh pair of eyes in the front office?
Coughlin appears to think that Khan is going to let him continue.
He says at the end of the season, you have to go through everything and, “This will be no different.”
“In other words your roster, where you money is being spent what the cap is going to dictate to you in the offseason how you can improve what you have to do. And I think from every standpoint that will be done again without a doubt and there will be some good out of it, some tough calls,’’ Coughlin said.
Coughlin’s idea of tough calls seems to be that it’s not his fault and so others will take the blame in his eyes.
What does Khan think about this approach?
Is he ready to give Coughlin – and Caldwell – another year?
Khan hasn’t given any interviews so we don’t know what he is thinking.
We will find out in just a month where Khan is going to place the blame.