NFL doesn’t consider Jaguars ready for primetime just yet, and that makes a lot of sense

It was just a coincidence that team president Mark Lamping conducted the Jacksonville Jaguars’ annual “State of the Franchise” news conference last Thursday on the same day the NFL announced the 2018 schedule.

Many Jaguars fans were upset that the team only got two primetime appearances despite reaching the AFC title game last year. They got a Sunday night home game against Pittsburgh on Nov. 18 and a Thursday night game at Tennessee on Dec. 6.

Two AFC South rivals (Houston and Tennessee) got three primetime appearances, and 10 teams got five primetime spots, including the two Super Bowl teams, Philadelphia and New England, while Minnesota, the loser of the NFC title game, got four.

Lamping’s presentation showed the NFL’s decision probably wasn’t a surprise as he talked about the challenges a small-market team faces.

He didn’t address the schedule because it hadn’t been released, but here’s a look at some of the factors that probably influenced the NFL.

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Dez’s Dallas exit was understandable but needlessly messy

The Dez Bryant divorce from the Dallas Cowboys was messier than it should have been.

In reality, it was just bidness, as they say in Dallas. He had a big contract ($12.5 million base salaries the next two years and a $16.5 million cap number this year), and not only had his production dropped off, but Bryant had tended to wear out his welcome by being a distraction with things like his sideline outbursts. The Cowboys didn’t want him at any price, even if he had agreed to a paycut.

Still, the way it was handled on both sides left a lot to be desired.

First, owner Jerry Jones was not exactly candid when he said at the scouting combine that he wanted Bryant on the team.

Meanwhile, they waited a month to cut him after the league year started, and that cut down on his options now that many teams have spent big money. But Bryant and his agents didn’t think to get a roster bonus payable at the start of the league year, which probably would have forced the Cowboys to cut him a month ago.

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Rosen is a great test of the NFL’s dreaded Groupthink

As the depositions continue in Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case against the NFL, it’s impossible to predict whether his lawyers will uncover a smoking gun to prove collusion.

But it’s obvious Kaepernick is the victim of one thing – NFL Groupthink.

The NFL is not a bastion of original thinkers who go against the grain. They tend to play it safe and reach the same conclusions, whether they obviously collude or not.

Exhibit A is Tom Brady. No GM in league thought he was worth a flyer in the first five rounds of the 2000 draft. Bobby Beathard was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and he didn’t draft Brady even though his coach in San Diego at the time, Mike Riley, lobbied him to take Brady. And Beathard was more of an out-of-the-box thinker than most NFL executives.

The best exhibit this year is UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen. He won’t fall out of the first round because he has too much raw talent, although nobody can predict how good a college quarterback will be in the NFL.

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Coughlin rolling the dice by doubling down on the Jaguars’ run game

Tom Coughlin is like a poker player who pushes all his chips on the table in hopes of drawing an inside straight.

The decision by Coughlin, who is now running the Jacksonville Jaguars organization, to trade a conditional seventh-round pick to Cleveland for backup quarterback Cody Kessler is another example that he is all in on the running game and thinks he can win with Blake Bortles at quarterback.

Kessler makes sense as a backup because he’ll cost the Jaguars less than a $1 million in salary in his third year, and Bortles is so durable that Kessler is not likely to see much action.

But it also means the Jaguars don’t figure to draft a quarterback in the first three rounds or address the problem of finding a quarterback for the future in Coughlin’s first two years.

Kessler certainly isn’t a long-term answer. He was drafted in the third round two years ago, but his stock has dropped since then. No team was willing to offer the Browns an unconditional seventh, much less a sixth, for Kessler.

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NFL’s new catch rule is a start, but Riveron himself remains a big problem

The NFL’s new catch rule may create more problems than it solves and didn’t address the league’s bigger problem in officiating — director of officials Al Riveron overturning calls that should have stood in his first year on the job.

The new rule is a reaction to the going-to-the-ground rule overturning the Calvin Johnson catch in 2010, the Dez Bryant catch in 2014 and the Jesse James catch last year.

There’s no more going-to-the-ground stipulation in the new rule.

But even Riveron said the rule change might lead to more fumbles, which means more replay and more controversy.

Rich McKay, a member of the competition committee, said he will trade 10 fumbles for five memorable catches.

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