By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — We’re in month seven of full-blown pandemic in the United States, which is something that we all frankly never expected to say or read or even really fathom. Something we also never imagined was that the NFL would somehow be playing football all across the country in the midst of this pandemic, and yet, there it is, filling up our flat screens every Thursday, Sunday and Monday.
The reason the NFL aggressively pursued a season in 2020 was obvious: Money. The second most important reason was … checks notes … yup, that was money, too.
But if you move your way down the list of the NFL’s reasons to charge full bore into a 2020 season, you’ll find some disingenuously magnanimous reason about providing a sense of normalcy during these unprecedented and uncertain times. Those two catchphrases — along with “the new normal” — have been thrown around ad nauseam over the past several months, despite the obvious reality that quite literally nothing is normal anymore.
Everything, that is, except for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Taking the field for their annual Thursday night game, the Jags were so authentically Jagalicious during Thursday night’s blowout loss to the Dolphins that frankly … frankly it felt like things were back to normal. For a little while anyway.
Here are five moments that stood out as being so uniquely and transcendentally Jagaursian that they required a second look. I’ll list them chronologically and then provide a definitive ranking on The Jaguar Scale at the end.
What Are The Rules?
Hey, uhh … CJ? Yeah, hey, we know you’re a rookie and all but … still. It would be wise to bone up on the NFL rules. You’re going to want to go ahead and touch that ball carrier next time. Giving up seven free yards at the end of a play is generally frowned upon from a defensive perspective.
Shoutout to head coach Doug Marrone, defensive coordinator Todd Walsh, and cornerbacks coach Tim Walton for apparently skipping that lesson this summer. And of course, big credit to CJ himself for providing that moment.
Nothing too complicated about this one. Just an old-fashioned droperooski.
It hurt, too. Had Conley made that easy catch along the sideline, the Jags would have had a fresh set of downs on the Miami side of the 50. Instead, they had a third-and-6, which didn’t work out, and they punted. Miami drove the field and scored again to go up 14-0.
Triple-Coverage Deep Ball
I’m not privy to the Jags’ playbook, but I think this one is called “Oh what the hell why not we’re the Jags we’re going to lose anyway.”
Better passes have been thrown in NFL history, no doubt.
Fourth Down Execution
Normally “fourth down execution” means a team executing its play with precision on a fourth down. In this case, it means making Gardner Minshew walk the plank and get absolutely eaten up on a gotta-have-it play.
One can only imagine the swing of emotions at play on this one. In the huddle, 11 men rallied together: “Our will against theirs! Fourth down! Let’s do this!” That was followed by one of the most demoralizing looking sacks you could possibly have. Tough stuff right there.
Obviously, every team allows sacks. But that one looked especially hilarious, with Kamu Grugier-Hill looking like an Apple IIe Number Muncher. (Too specific a reference? Yeah? No? Kids these days probably wouldn’t know a good floppy disk. Whatever.)
It is rare for an NFL player to be this wide open at any point in any game. Yet there was Chris Conley, trotting down the sideline without a defender in sight. Minshew had himself an easy touchdown if he could just get the ball out in space for the receiver to grab. Alas. Juuuuuust a bit outside.
Of course, Minshew got absolutely blasted on the play by Kyle Van Noy. Delivering passes with an impending car crash coming head-on is for sure challenging. But it’s also one that NFL quarterbacks answer on a regular basis (check out Russell Wilson literally hitting the pylon from 50 yards away while dealing with a charging Lawrence Guy for one of the better examples.)
Minshew said after the game that both he and Conley said “my bad” after that missed connection, adding, “We both wish there were things we could have back.”
I guess. But you’ve at least got to give Conley a chance to drop it, you know?
Official Jags Scale Ranking
That is more than enough ado. Let’s cut the ado and get to the do.
5. Fourth Down Execution
3. Droposaurus Rex
2. Triple-Coverage Deep Ball
1. What Are The Rules?
Congratulations, CJ Henderson and Co.! You’ve produced the Jaggiest Jag play on one of the Jaggier evenings in recent memory!
Bonus point goes to the entire Jaguars defense for allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick to look like Steve Young during the game …
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 25, 2020
… and Broadway Joe after the game:
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 25, 2020
(Also bonus points to Cam Robinson for shoving not one but TWO officials en route to getting ejected from the game. There’s some plausible deniability that he didn’t know the first one was an official; the second one, not so much.)
It’s truly and utterly crazy to comprehend that this organization was maybe one or two first downs away from winning a playoff game in Foxboro and going to A SUPER BOWL just two years, eight months and four days ago. Bananas.
That’s life in the Wild Wild West, though. Good times don’t often last in the NFL, and the Jags are the best picture of that.
But at least the Jags are providing a public service during these uncertain times to provide us all with a comforting sense of normalcy. Seeing anything else from a Jaguars team wearing Color Rush-esque jerseys on a Thursday night with just several hundred fans in attendance would have been awfully disconcerting.
We may not have much, but we’ve got the Jags Jaggin’ it up on Thursday Night Football. And that counts for something.