Last season the Jacksonville Jaguars finished with a 6-10 record, a second consecutive sub-.500 season after reaching the AFC title game in 2017. While it was a disappointing season, each side of the ball had several players that stood out. On defense, safety Ronnie Harrison and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue both had solid seasons. Offensively, third-year running back Leonard Fournette had his best season topping the 1,000-yard mark for the second time in his young career.
Two weeks ago, all three starters were in training camp preparing for the 2020 season. Then, in a matter of days, the trio of players departed Jacksonville via trade or outright release. Now that all three have found new homes, they’ve been able to reflect on their time with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Two of them recently shared their thoughts on social media, and it was less than flattering.
Jacksonville Jaguars’ disappointing 2019 season
In 2017, the first full year under head coach Doug Marrone, the Jacksonville Jaguars had a solid regular season, finishing with a 10-6 record. It was in the playoffs where the Jaguars surprised. After knocking off the Buffalo Bills in the first round, the Jags toppled the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round, before falling to Tom Brady and the Patriots in the AFC title game, in a close contest 24-20.
Following the 2017 season, 2018 was a huge letdown for the Jaguars organization and its fans, as the team stumbled to a 5-11 finish. Those within the club thought that year was an anomaly. The team was still headed in the right direction like 2017. Then 2019 happened.
In the offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars brought in quarterback Nick Foles, who had been successful in Philadelphia, ironically leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl title in 2017 when the Jaguars narrowly missed making the contest. Foles played in four games for the Jags before getting injured. The team then turned to rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew and a healthy dose of Leonard Fournette.
The running back finished with a career-best 1,152 yards, but it wasn’t nearly enough as the Jaguars finished with a disappointing 6-10 record.
An exodus of Jacksonville Jaguars players
With Foles departing for Chicago in the offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars announced they had turned over the offense to the second-year quarterback Minshew. On the exterior, everything seemed to be proceeding as normal. Behind the scenes, it was anything but that. That became evident on Sunday, August 30. That’s when the Jaguars announced they had traded defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and his eight sacks in 2019 to Minnesota.
A day later, the Jags made an equally surprising move dumping their best offensive player in 2019, inexplicably waiving Fournette. They weren’t done. A couple of days later, the team announced it had traded starting safety Ronnie Harrison to the Cleveland Browns for a 2021 fifth-round draft pick.
It was a rapid and extremely odd turn of events in Jacksonville. With Harrison’s departure, he became the third player drafted in the top three rounds since 2016 to be cut or traded by the Jaguars before finishing his rookie contract, joining Fournette and Jalen Ramsey, who was traded to the LA Rams in 2019.
Leonard Fournette and company criticize former team
Since he left, Ngakoue has remained quiet about his move. Fournette and Harrison, however, have not. Both recently expressed their relief in no uncertain terms about being out of the Jacksonville Jaguars organization.
Fournette remained in Florida and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he will join forces with another new face in Tampa in quarterback Tom Brady. Fournette was understandably happy with his new team and playing with the GOAT. He said as much in a tweet while also taking a swipe at the previous quarterbacks he played with in Jacksonville.
“For the first time in my life, I really have a quarterback,” Fournette tweeted.
While Fournette’s post could be viewed as much complimentary to Brady as anything else, Harrison’s tweet left no room for misinterpretation.
“So Relieved To Be Out Of Jacksonville And Around A New Team Who Wants One Common Goal! Thank You God!” he wrote.
It’s been a wild few weeks for the Jacksonville Jaguars with the departure of three starters. With the 2020 season just days away, it’s clear all parties are ready to move on and leave the past behind. However, it’s what happened in the past that makes fans wonder if the players were the problem, or there’s a much larger problem within the organization. Time will tell.