The Jacksonville Jaguars are an extraordinarily talented football team strapped to the back of a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Sunday’s suspensions of All Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive end Dante Fowler is further proof of an invisible timer in place, capable of detonating at the most inopportune time.
Hold onto your seats, Jaguars fans—a season of angst and anticipation awaits in 2018.
The angst part is already setting in following the untimely suspensions of two of the Jaguars’ best defensive players. However, Ramsey is the one that sticks out like a sore thumb due to the weight of his voice in the locker room and talent on the field.
A Florida Times-Union reporter tweeted a video on Sunday of an ensuing scuffle between Fowler and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue at a Jaguars practice. Ramsey could be seen at the end of the video emerging from the pack of players and demanding reporters stop recording.
“Hey man, ya’ll stop recording that s—t,” said Ramsey.
Following a strongly-worded tweet, where Ramsey threatened to take the local media to war, the Jaguars handed down a suspension, via the official team website, stating a “violation of team rules and conduct unbecoming of a Jaguars football player.”
A completely unabashed and unapologetic Ramsey responded immediately on Twitter.
It was a textbook response from a 23-year-old that has yet to mature into the leader the Jaguars desperately need him to be.
Players on the team don’t need Ramsey going after local media members in their honor, especially if it results in his suspension. They’d much rather have him lining up beside them on game day.
Perhaps the biggest question mark facing a Jaguars team full of roughriders is where the voice of reason comes from. Who is the voice of solidarity in the locker room—the glue that keeps it all together when things start falling apart?
Ramsey has been ejected in back-to-back seasons, and during the 2017 training camp, he liked a social media screenshot of an article suggesting potential replacements for Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.
Meanwhile, Fowler’s disciplinary incident comes less than a month after he was suspended one regular season game for an incident off the field in 2017, which led to him being arrested and facing misdemeanor charges.
The Jaguars are their own worst enemy, and it could ultimately cost them a Super Bowl if they’re not careful.
There is nothing wrong with having a few screws loose on the field, which has been the case for many of the all-time great defenses throughout NFL history, but there has to be a leader in the locker room capable of redirecting the team’s best players when they stray from the path.
This is the same Jaguars team that breathed new life into a defunct franchise, knocked out the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs and nearly ousted legendary quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the 2017 AFC Championship game. The potential for greatness is already at the doorstep.
The Jaguars can grab hold of it with a little direction and maturity, along with the persistent hope that no one loses their head along the way.