There’s been a lot of critical commentary leveled at the Jaguars since the start of camp, but a comment by former NFL player and current NFL Network talking head Heath Evans has drawn some return fire.
Earlier this week, Evans said that there was a disconnect between the Jaguars players and coach Mike Mularkey because of the way Mularkey has handled running back Maurice Jones-Drew’s holdout. Specifically, Evans said that Mularkey’s lack of communication with Jones-Drew was creating problems in the locker room.
That runs counter to what Mularkey has said about speaking with Jones-Drew on the phone as well as other reports of contact between the team and player, presumably involving people on the Jags side who actually dole out contracts. Mularkey called the suggestion of a rift in the locker room “comical” and some of his players sent similar messages when asked about Evans’ comments.
“That’s kind of hilarious, that’s just the opposite of what’s been happening,” offensive lineman Eben Britton said, via Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union. “It really feels like a professional football organization from top to bottom. I’ve never been a part of a team that’s so acutely attentive to details.”
“Honestly, I really believe it’s a hungry team. Everybody’s all in with what Coach Mularkey is doing,” guard Uche Nwaneri said. “There’s not one person in this locker room who feels like we don’t have a chance to win every Sunday if we do everything that’s asked of us – finishing blocks, finishing runs, finishing routes, defense finishing tackles. I couldn’t imagine where someone would think there’s dissension that’s creeping in because there’s absolutely zero. There’s none of that.”
The oddest thing about the idea that Jones-Drew’s holdout would reflect poorly on Mularkey is that Mularkey has very little to do with getting Jones-Drew into camp. General Manager Gene Smith and, ultimately, owner Shad Khan are the men who are in control of whether or not Jones-Drew gets a new deal and they are the ones who have held firm to not giving the running back a new deal.