The Jaguars beat the Jets 31-12 on Sunday, and it was about as one-sided as an NFL game gets. Jacksonville nearly tripled New York in yards from scrimmage, and nearly doubled their time of possession. But it wasn’t quite enough for Jags head coach Doug Marrone, who sent his team out to go for two instead of kicking a PAT in a 19-point game with 25 seconds left.
The two-point attempt, a Blake Bortles pass intended for Dede Westbrook, failed, and the margin of victory remained 19. (On the ensuing possession, the Jets functionally kneeled, running the ball once and allowing the clock to expire.) But why go for two in the first place? Bortles didn’t have an answer, telling reporters, “I just work here.”
“We had a lot of guys banged up for the PAT/field goal [team], and on the chart it just said 19 [points]. On the chart it says go for two. I’m one of those guys, I never try to take anything for granted in an NFL game. Try to keep working those mechanics and doing it, so just went for two.
So, this is obviously bullshit. The chart may say go for two when you’re up 19 points, but the chart also says Throw me out when you’re up three scores with 19 seconds left! Unless you’ve got beef.
Marrone does indeed have beef with the Jets.
“He doesn’t like those guys,” DT Malik Jackson told reporters after the game. “I don’t know what they did to him, but he doesn’t like them.”
I’ve got a guess. Following the 2014 season, Marrone opted out of his contract with the Bills, which carried a bizarre clause that guaranteed him $4 million from Buffalo in 2015 even if he coached another team. Marrone interviewed for the Jets’ vacant head coaching gig, and it was a messy process, with the Daily News publishing a story the day of the interview that cited Bills sources saying the coach’s “ornery disposition had turned off people at all levels of the organization for two years,” and that Marrone was “too thin-skinned to get over the criticism” from Buffalo media. Three days later, Jets sources started leaking, telling the paper and other outlets that Marrone hadn’t impressed the Jets in his interview. Marrone had been the odds-on favorite for the Jets job, but they hired Todd Bowles instead, Marrone took an assistant job in Jacksonville, and the rest is history. Bitter, seething, revenge-plotting history.
“I think it’s really disrespectful,” defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. “The game’s already over. They already have the game in the bag. All they could have done is run the clock out at that point. At the same time, I think it’s up to us to gain that respect from other teams. If teams are disrespecting us, it must say something about us. I took it really personal. And I didn’t like it at all.”
“That’s just what they felt they wanted to do,” outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins added. “Whether it was a statement or not, we’ll never know. But we won’t forget.”