Jaguars receivers Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee became eligible for contract extensions earlier this off-season but nothing has materialized.
Robinson, the team’s No. 1 receiver, should be a priority. Lee, with only one injury-free season (2016) on his resume, could be headed to free agency next March.
Both players declined interview requests throughout the off-season program so we don’t know if they are realistic, frustrated or livid about their situations.
Robinson and Lee should look to the front of their meeting room for advice.
Keenan McCardell, hired as the Jaguars’ receivers coach on Jan. 20, sat out nearly two months of the 2004 season before Tampa Bay traded him to San Diego.
“What I tell them is you can only control what you can control, and that’s your play,” McCardell said Thursday. “All that other stuff, it’ll fall off the way it’s supposed to fall. Just go out and play at the best level you can ever play in your life. Everything else will work itself out.
“When you start to worry about things you can’t control, it starts to affect you on the field. Just let the chips fall where they may.”
Robinson and Lee are entering their fourth years. When McCardell held out of Tampa Bay’s camp, he was 34 and owned a Super Bowl ring (Buccaneers, 2002).
McCardell was scheduled to make $2.5 million in 2004 and $2.75 million in 2005, well below the $4.4 million average for those his camp believed were No. 1 receivers.
McCardell requested a trade after general manager Bruce Allen declined to re-work the contract. He began his holdout at the start of the Buccaneers’ off-season program and didn’t practice or play until San Diego acquired him for third- and sixth-round draft picks on Oct. 19, 2004.
Any regrets for McCardell all these years later?
“None whatsoever,” he said. “It was time to do that and I did it.”
The Jaguars may not be financially willing to take care of both Robinson and Lee, but if they produce this year, somebody will.
RAMSEY FALL OUT
The Jaguars’ injury luck with their first-round draft picks worsened Thursday when cornerback Jalen Ramsey underwent surgery for a “core muscle” issue.
2013: Left tackle Luke Joeckel (No. 2 overall). Broke his ankle as a rookie (missed last 11 games) and tore his ACL in 2016 (missed final 12 games).
2015: Defensive end Dante Fowler (No. 3 overall). Tore his ACL in rookie camp and missed entire season.
2016: Ramsey (No. 5 overall). Had knee surgery in May 2016 that cost him off-season program and several weeks of training camp and now the latest development.
Training camp starts July 26 and we would be surprised if Ramsey does not start on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list – there is no need to rush him. The goal is to make sure he is ready for Week 1 at Houston.
After being told of Ramsey’s surgery, a league source said: “My instincts say Ramsey’s body may be an issue in the future.”
The source added that Ramsey has an extremely physical playing style, which could become costly.
If Ramsey doesn’t start camp or is limited, it presents a huge chance for seventh-round rookie Jalen Myrick, who worked at Ramsey’s spot during mini-camp. Aaron Colvin, if he is recovered from the foot injury that cost him all of OTAs and mini-camp, could also be an option if the Jaguars feel another player (Josh Johnson) could cover the slot receiver.
Early in the team portion of Wednesday’s practice, coach Doug Marrone pulled together the Jaguars’ first-team offense for a measured chat. His message was to start a segment with more crispness.
“We just went through our first 3-4 plays and the first play, we fumbled and we restarted,” quarterback Blake Bortles said. “[Marrone’s message] was, ‘You have to treat this like it’s the beginning of the game. You can’t fumble on the first play.’ We’re notorious for going three-and-out on the first possession the last couple years that I’ve been here. We have to stop doing that.”
The Jaguars are certainly known for their slow starts.
In 16 games last year, the Jaguars scored 17 first-drive points (two touchdowns and one field goal). They had three scoring drives, seven three-and-outs and three turnovers and other punts apiece.
Since 2014, when Bortles entered the league, the Jaguars’ 146 first-quarter points (3.04 per game) ranks 30th in the league (Chicago 139 and Miami 141) and their 421 first-half points (8.77 per game) are fewest in the league.
The emphasis is obvious: If the Jaguars want to lean on a defense they believe can be very good, they must first get a lead.
At Colts camp, takeaways are being emphasized. Per coach Chuck Pagano, the Colts are 27-2 when they have a turnover ratio of plus-1 or better.
“That’s pretty easy to grasp,” Pagano said, per the Indianapolis Star.
It certainly is simple. For a comparable, we looked at the Jaguars’ game-by-game turnover ratio totals since the start of 2012. It was bleak, as expected.
The Jaguars are 10-12 when they have a turnover ratio of plus-1 or better, a pitiful .455 winning percentage compared to .931 for the Colts.
The Jaguars were 2-3 in 2012, 4-2 in 2013, 1-4 in 2014, 2-1 in 2015 and 1-2 last year.
The Jaguars have won the turnover battle in 10 of their 17 wins since 2012. Most alarming is they have lost five games when they had a plus-2 turnover ratio.
*Jaguars offensive line coach Pat Flaherty returns to his old high school next Saturday for the Mason Dixon Linemen Clinic. A 1974 graduate of Delone Catholic High School in McSherrystown, Pa., Flaherty instructs players in grades 7-12 for four hours. Site of the clinic is J.T. Flaherty Field, named after Pat’s late father who was the school’s long-time coach.
*NFL Network will carry 16 preseason games live in August, but none will feature the Jaguars. They will play on ESPN in Week 2 of the preseason against Tampa Bay (Aug. 17). Smart move by the league for the opening week – seven games will be broadcast nationally on five straight nights (Wednesday-Sunday) to give fans an early fix.