It’s easy to debate whether the comments to GQ Magazine made by Jaguars corner Jalen Ramsey were “appropriate.”
But don’t get completely caught in the weeds on that. Because more than a little of what Ramsey said is accurate.
He took a verbal flamethrower to guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and especially Bills rookie Josh Allen. Then, when asked the merits of his own quarterback, Blake Bortles, Ramsey criticized the Jaguars' offensive approach in the second half of last year’s AFC Championship.
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“Blake do what he gotta do . . . ” said Ramsey. “I think in crunch-time moments, like last year's playoff game -- not as a team, because we would have trusted him -- but I think as an organization, we should have trusted him more to keep throwing it. We kinda got complacent and conservative. And I think that's why we lost. We started running it on first and second down, throwing it on third down, every single time we were out there. [The Patriots] caught on to that.”
Yeah, they kinda did. In stark contrast to the aggressive offensive style the Eagles showed in the Super Bowl, Jacksonville turtled in the second half of the AFCCG, which they eventually lost, 24-20, by blowing a 10-point lead in the final 10 minutes.
Jacksonville was up 14-3 late in the first half before the Patriots narrowed the score to 14-10 with a James White touchdown. By that time, Jags running back Leonard Fournette had run 11 times for 40 yards and Bortles was 13-for-15 for 195 yards.
In the second half, Fournette ran 13 times for 36 yards. They ran him 10 times on first-and-10 while they had the second-half lead. He gained 25 yards on those carries, with 14 coming on one of those.
The Jags’ strategy was obvious. To everyone. They were going to run the ball so that every position ate some clock. But by handing off over and over and running a big back into a defense stacked against him, the Jags were continually asking Bortles to make something out of second-and-long.
The Jags tried to sneak out of Foxboro with a win. Going bold against the greatest quarterback of all-time (especially for a huge underdog) was probably the better strategy.
What about Super Bowl 51, you say? Good point. Former Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will forever be criticized for being too aggressive and allowing the Patriots to come back from a 28-3 deficit.
But that game was an avalanche of huge plays by New England on both sides of the ball in the second half, which left Shanahan searching for answers and making desperate decisions.
The Jags started playing scared before halftime when they took a knee on first down with 55 seconds left and two timeouts.
The way the final two games of the Patriots 2017 season unfolded may have been a teachable moment for the rest of the league. It’s fight or flight.
You can be afraid of the Patriots, play scared and allow your nightmare to be realized, as the Jags did. Or you can fight them, like Philly did.