The Jacksonville Jaguars entered 2016 as a trendy pick to win the AFC South and make some noise in the postseason. Instead, they went 3-13 and missed the playoffs for the ninth straight season.
What went wrong?
“At the end of the day, if you don’t win, this is what happens,” Jaguars offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “You can have everything on paper. You can have all the check marks on paper – the height, the weight, free agency, what have you. If you don’t put that product out on Sunday, none of that stuff matters. If you don’t make plays, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. You got to win games.”
Okay, then what was lost in translation from talent to performance on the field?
“I said this throughout the year: Coming from Pittsburgh, all that was talked about was winning,” said Beachum, who played for the Steelers from 2012-15 before signing with Jacksonville last March. “There was nothing else that even mattered. Nothing else was even talked about. There was no, ‘Hey, we got to get better. Hey, we did okay this week. We got to find a way to get better next week.’ No, winning was all that mattered, and that’s all we needed to talk about in Pittsburgh. I get here and we talk about everything else besides the most important thing, which was winning. So it was a little different for me coming from where I came from. No disrespect to the coaching staff that was there. Great people, great men. But I just came from a different cloth.”
Beachum, 27, said he did everything he could to bring Pittsburgh’s culture to Jacksonville.
“I talked about it. I lived it,” he said. “ I showed up every morning at 5:30. I was one of the last people to leave. I wanted to make sure that what I did in Pittsburgh, I did in Jacksonville. I didn’t want to change how I showed up, how I worked – any of those things in Jacksonville – because that’s how I was taught. When I was in Pittsburgh, Heath Miller, Brett Keisel, James Harrison, those are the guys that took me under their wings. Willie Colon, Max Starks, those are the guys that took me under their wings at a young age and showed me how do you get to the playoffs? How do you win games? Those are the guys that showed me that, and that’s what I tried to do in Jacksonville. But it takes more than just one or two guys to do that. It takes a good core group of guys to do that, who believe the same thing and pushes us to win the division so we can be in the playoffs.”
Beachum said that the Jaguars are still looking for a locker-room leader whom everyone is afraid to disappoint. In Pittsburgh, that was Heath Miller – at least for Beachum.
“I played tackle, and he was a tight end,” Beachum said. “I never wanted to do the wrong thing, I never wanted to be out of position, I never wanted to put him in a bad position, I always wanted to make the right calls – I always wanted to do everything right to make sure I was there for Heath. We haven’t gotten to that point yet. I know everybody wants to say, ‘Well, you’re young. You got a young team.’ Who cares about any of those things? You got to find a way to circle the wagons and cut through. I’m really happy that they brought on Tom Coughlin. I think he will find a way to put the right pieces in place, to put the right guys in the locker room so we can get to that point.”