A News4JAX poll found a vast majority blamed Jaguars offense, GM for collapse. But the team fired the defensive staff

Before heads on the Jaguars staff started to roll, News4JAX asked our readers a question: Who do you blame most for the Jaguars late-season collapse?

Since the story was published on Monday afternoon, more than 7,000 people have voted in the online poll that had seven options, including Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor, head coach Doug Pederson, quarterback Trevor Lawrence and others.

The vast majority of respondents (30%) said most of the blame lies at the feet of Taylor. Others blamed Lawrence (21%), general manager Trent Baalke (14%) the offensive line (13%) and Pederson (11%).

Even though he called plays for the second half of games last season, many fans were surprised when reports came out a few hours before the Jaguars season opener that Taylor, who has been described as Pederson’s protégé, was taking over play-calling duties from Pederson on a full-time basis. In the season that followed, the offense could be characterized as inconsistent, at best. John Shipley, a Jaguars reporter for Jaguar Report, pointed out the offense took a big step back from the 2022 season, one in which the team claimed an AFC South title and a first-round playoff win.

Comparing the #Jaguars offense from 2022 and 2023 pic.twitter.com/Px7d338KsA

— John Shipley (@_John_Shipley) January 8, 2024

Despite who the fans blamed for the team losing five of its last six games, Pederson, who promoted Taylor twice during his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles, went to bat for Taylor. He appears to be sticking around.

Pederson has a strong belief in Taylor, who coached with him in Philadelphia. It was that relationship that ultimately cost Pederson his job with the Eagles. Pederson was set on promoting Taylor from passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. Philadelphia owner Jeffrey Lurie reportedly wanted a more experienced OC to help revive one of the league’s worst offenses. Lurie fired Pederson on Jan. 11, 2021.

Instead of firing Taylor, the first coach Pederson fired was defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell, the person who News4JAX voters placed the least amount of blame for the late-season slide (4%). The team also sent nearly his entire staff packing.

Jacksonville’s defense took a step back this season in its ability to win when it mattered. It was carved up by backup quarterbacks in Cincinnati (Jake Browning), Cleveland (Joe Flacco) and Tennessee (Ryan Tannehill) over the final six games.

The Jaguars ranked No. 24 in the league last year in yards per game allowed (353.2) and 12th in points allowed per game (20.6). They were 17th this year in points per game (21.8) and 22nd in yards allowed (342.8). Jacksonville was woeful against the pass, finishing 26th in yards allowed through the air.

Still, some fans on social media said Caldwell was being scapegoated.

“Mike Caldwell wasn’t the problem. It’s the offense [offensive] line and coaches. It starts with Doug and Press Taylor. It’s up to the offense to get in the red zone to score, not the defense. Terrible move,” one News4JAX reader wrote.

“The Jags made the wrong decision on getting rid of Defense Coordinator Mike Caldwell. They should have gotten rid of the Offensive Coordinator Press Taylor in mid-season!!!” another reader wrote.

The Jaguars did get rid of two offensive coaches, but the offensive staff remained mostly intact.

On Tuesday, the Jaguars fired running backs coach Bernie Parmalee and didn’t renew the contract of assistant offensive line coach Todd Washington.

Pederson addressed a slew of recent coaching moves on Tuesday, saying wide-ranging personnel decisions were difficult but “changes were necessary” to move the Jaguars forward.

“Since our season’s end, I have made the difficult decision to relieve several members of the coaching staff — on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball — of their duties. I want to thank each of these coaches for their tireless efforts these last two seasons,” Pederson said in a statement. “Ultimately, I felt change was necessary to allow our football team to reach the goals for which we are capable.”

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