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Earlier this season Andrew Norwell Jersey , Jacksonville Jaguars, in dire need of a running back after Leonard Fournette went down, traded a fifth round pick to the Cleveland Browns for running back Carlos Hyde.Fast forward to last Thursday — the Jaguars, with a fully healthy Leonard Fournette, play Hyde a meager three snaps against the Tennessee Titans. This prompted a number of fans and analysts to sound off on the trade. While it wasn’t the worst move the Jaguars have made this season, it adds to a laundry list of miscalculations and missteps that show a repeated failure to properly self-scout and assess your needs.Now, would I have signed or drafted a back in the offseason? Absolutely. But I think the Hyde trade was smart, given Leonard’s injury history and the need for a proven back behind him. Essentially, you get Leonard’s same punishing running style in case he goes down and a smart veteran who can pass protect when needed. Given that it took place when we were 3-3 and still in the thick of the division, I can see the logic behind the move. As blessed as we were to have Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew on this team during their primes, it’s so odd that the Jaguars have spent so much on the running back position, whether it’s draft capital or free agency, with so little return on investment. As we count down towards the end of the Dave Caldwell era in Jacksonville, I thought it would be apropos to take a look at his history at the running back position, and whether he significantly upgraded the team from when he first started.2013Caldwell, in his first year at the controls, selected Denard Robinson in the 5th round. Robinson, a converted quarterback-turned-running back, was labeled an “offensive weapon.“ Robinson was a major liability in pass protection and wasn’t quite elusive against those NFL defenders. It’s safe to say he failed to live up to expectations. Additionally, Caldwell paid Justin Forsett in free agency , signing him to a 1 year $1.15 million dollar contract. He was cut after one year.The Jaguars averaged 78.8 yards per game rushing in 2013. This was good for 31st in the league.2014What was noteworthy from this year was that it marked the release of Jaguars great Maurice Jones-Drew. In his stead, Caldwell signed Toby Gerhart to a three-year $10.5 million dollar contract with $4 million guaranteed. Caldwell also drafted Storm Johnson out of UCF in the seventh round of the draft. He was nothing more than just a guy. The Jaguars averaged 102.1 yards per game rushing in 2014. This ranked 21st in the NFL.2015With the 2015 draft came star Alabama running back T.J Yeldon. Caldwell finally spent a high draft pick on a running back, but he was woefully underused. Part of it has to do with Greg Olsen, the Jaguars offensive coordinator who attempted the league’s second-lowest rushing attempt total that season with 354. Yeldon also missed four games due to injury. In his stead, Robinson suffered from fumblitis and Gerhart... well... he was Gerhart.Perhaps no better moment encapsulates his season than when he failed to score a touchdown from the one-yard line on four consecutive tries. One gem that emerged was UDFA Corey Grant, who made the team as its primary kick returner. He would stick around for a few years, eventually posting his best game against the New England Patriots in 2017.2016Out went Gerhart and in came Chris Ivory. Signed to a mammoth five-year, $32 million contract, Ivory was brought to be the bruiser and complement to Yeldon. In 2016, Ivory posted more fumbles than touchdowns, and the Jaguars averaged a paltry 72.8 yards per game rushing until interim offensive coordinator Nate Hackett took over. This would also be Denard Robinson’s final season in a Jaguars uniform.2017In case you needed another reminder, the Jaguars spent the fourth overall selection on LSU RB Leonard Fournette — over prospects like Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. He was signed to a four-year, $27 million fully guaranteed contract. The running game finally flourished, finishing first in yards per game rushing. The running game under Caldwell was arguably at its peak, with Fournette, Ivory, Yeldon, and Grant all in the rotation.2018The Jaguars cut Chris Ivory in the offseason. They entered the season with three running backs: Fournette, Yeldon, and Grant.For a team built around a powerful rushing attack Niles Paul Color Rush Jersey , this was woefully short. Injuries ravaged the position and the Jaguars had to sign Jamaal Charles and trade for Carlos Hyde. Charles was cut soon after and Hyde has disappeared from the rotation. As of today, the Jaguars rank 19th in yards per game rushing.SummaryDraft picks spent on running backs: No. 4 overall in 2017, No. 36 overall in 2015, No. 135 overall in 2013, No. 222 overall in 2014, TBD fifth round pick in 2019.Money spent in free agency and draft on running back was $58,272,456.In short, the mismanagement of the running back position isn’t the straw that broke the Jaguars’ back — but it certainly contributed to Caldwell’s downfall. What a difference a year makes. Last season, the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars met in the playoffs. This season, both teams have won just three times in 10 games. The Jaguars head to Orchard Park, New York to take on the Bills on Sunday. To help us better prepare for this matchup and learn more about the 2018 Buffalo Bills, I spoke with Corey Giacovelli from Buffalo Rumblings — SB Nation’s website for all things Buffalo Bills. I asked Corey about Josh Allen, the confidence in the coaching staff, the very good Buffalo defense and more. Check it it below: 1. After playoff droughts for both teams that spanned several years, the Jaguars and Bills each made the playoffs last season and met in the Wild Card round. Fast forward to now and both franchise have struggled to build off of that success. For Jacksonville this was unexpected, but for Buffalo, perhaps this was known due to changes at quarterback and elsewhere. Is the fan base confident in the direction the franchise is heading? Corey: The fan base is hit or miss depending on if they understand what a rebuild entails. Making the playoffs last year was lucky to be honest because we needed a result that was out of our hands. The problem with making it was that fans expected us to be in contention yet again when that wasn’t the case since the team was still in rebuild mode. Fans will be able to make it through this season, but next year is when they will get rowdy and upset if there are not the results they anticipate. 2. What are your honest thoughts about Josh Allen? Of course he has missed the past few games, but is he the future of this team D.J. Hayden Jersey , are you wary or are you taking more of a wait-and-see approach with Allen? Corey: Allen is a wait-and-see approach because the steps he has to overcome are mental. He clearly has the arm strength and athleticism to be successful in this league, but the area he has to improve on the most is handling blitzes. We saw him early in the season failing to diagnose where the blitz was coming from and shifting protection in response to it. That is the biggest area I am looking at when he returns because that is what his development will depend on. 3. Prior to the bye week, the Bills offense had an offensive explosion with Matt Barkley under center and LeSean McCoy looking like his old self. It sounds as if Allen will draw the start at quarterback against Jacksonville on Sunday, but who would you rather see at QB against Jacksonville’s tough pass defense and why?Corey: I want to see Allen because it looked as if last week the offense was being opened up in response to his return. We saw the team add speedy receivers to the roster and pushing the passing game vertically down the field. Yes, Barkley completed a lot of passes down the field, but they did not look pretty at all. With Allen letting the ball fly, I feel he is the best fit for this offense. Barkley may have gotten lucky last week due to the appearance of the Jets quitting, but the Jaguars defense is a whole new animal. 4. Speaking of pass defense, Buffalo is actually now the No. 1 ranked passing defense and No. 2 ranked total defense (also No. 10 against the run). On the flip side, the Bills rank No. 31 in total offense and No. 32 in passing offense. How has the defense been able to help mitigate the offensive woes and put this team in position to win a few games? Corey: It starts on the back end of the defense taking away the passing game. Much like the Jags have (Jalen) Ramsey, we have Tre’Davious White who is that guy you can depend on to lock down the number one receiver on the other side of the ball. Mixed with that is a front seven that has been consistently getting to the quarterback, something the team was lacking last season. We have two young linebackers in the middle of the defense in Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds, so most of the time the performance of the defense depends on how those two are performing against the run and play action passes. 5. What is the confidence level in Sean McDermott and the coaching staff? Corey: The confidence level is at about 50 percent because of two reasons. The first is that we have full faith in the defense that he was able to build and the quality of play he has been able to get out of a lot of young guys. The problem is the lack of faith on offense is obvious. McDermott has shown nothing yet that he is able to build an offense that can consistently put up points. Next season will be his third with the team and with the salary space the team has, people are expecting the roster to have sufficient talent on both sides of the ball. If the offense next year is what it is like this year, you may find him on the hot seat. Bonus: score prediction? 13-6 JaguarsDouble Bonus: Is Bills Mafia still lighting tables on fire and jumping through them? Corey: I think so but the police has been preventing it near the stadium, hahaThank you to Corey for taking the time to answer my questions. You can find him on Twitter, and to keep up with what is going with this week’s opponent, be sure to follow Buffalo Rumblings as well. For more, check out my crossover piece on Buffalo Rumblings.
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