The NFL postseason picture is beginning to take shape as the calendar moves toward Thanksgiving. One of the teams that looks to be a legitimate playoff contender is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Under new head coach Doug Marrone, Jacksonville is riding high, as they’ve navigated their way to a 6-3 record. Currently, they would be the first wild card in the AFC. This week, they should be able to add another one to their win total, as they are facing the lowly Cleveland Browns on the road. For the second year in a row, the Browns and head coach Hue Jackson have started the season 0-9. On paper, one would not think there would be much to watch here. That’s still likely the case, but Jaguars safety Tashaun Gipson (an ex-Brown) added some fuel to the fire by disrespecting the Browns this week. According to Marc Sessler of NFL.com, Gipson said “the Browns are probably going to finish 0-16.”
That was before Gipson would go on to say Jacksonville would “hang 40 on them.” The main reason for the Jags’ safety having those strong words for Cleveland is because the Browns’ front office did not offer Gipson a worthy contract after making a Pro Bowl once during his time with the club. It could be concluded that he felt disrespected by the team despite showing good flashes on the field. He further expressed his distaste for the Browns after the initial quote on Monday’s Freddie and Fitz show on ESPN (again, courtesy of Sessler).
“People say their next chance to win a football game is probably against the Jaguars, which probably ain’t going to happen,” Gipson said. “They’re probably going to finish 0-16. So you look at things like that, man, it’s just a blessing to be able to get out of that situation like this where you know what winning feels like.”
It’s understandable that Tashaun Gipson is enjoying himself on a team that is in the playoff hunt. However, it is also understandable that the Browns felt disrespected due to the safety’s aforementioned comments. Browns players voiced those opinions in their own way, but the message was clear, they have some extra motivation. This is a bit of what they said in relation to Gipson, courtesy of Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
“Definitely, anybody would be disrespected by that,” said defensive tackle Danny Shelton. “We just have to go out there, play our game and be dominant.”
Said left tackle Spencer Drango: “It is bulletin board material. Some guys do, some guys don’t use it. I’ll leave that one up to Coach.”
Hue Jackson noted that Gipson’s comments were relayed to the Browns’ squad with extra emphasis this week when he was asked about whether or not he would address them.
“Oh, I did. You can bet your bottom dollar I did,” Jackson said. “I don’t think we need any motivation. We’re an 0-9 football team. The opportunity to play is motivation enough for this football team. We want to win.”
Clearly, the Jaguars should have the advantage on Sunday. They come into this game with the league’s best rushing attack led by rookie running back Leonard Fournette, and one of the league’s best defenses, led by their pass rush and terrific cornerback tandem of Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Tashaun Gipson did not need to go there, though. In addition, rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook took it a step further, with some insane expectations to live up to in his career debut, courtesy of Michael DiRocco of ESPN.
#Jaguars WR Dede Westbrook said on the Teal & Black Blitz that he expects to have a 200-yard receiving game in his debut. That's what he expects out of himself every time he gets on the field.
— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) November 15, 2017
Unfortunately for fans of the Cleveland Browns, they don’t have much to say about that blatant disrespect by Gipson and the lofty goal of Westbrook in his very first NFL game. As was illustrated by Fred Greetham of Scout.com, the Browns are only the third team in NFL history to start 0-9 in back-to-back seasons. That is simply pathetic, and this matchup against the Jags’ is just another notch on losing belt for Jackson. He will be 1-25 as the Browns head coach, and Gipson will probably be able to talk as much as he wants. Sorry, Cleveland.
[Featured Image by Logan Bowles/Getty Images]