Jacksonville Jaguars 2020 Team Previewby Mason Thompson September 1, 2020 1 comment
The Jacksonville Jaguars came into the 2019 season with minimal expectations. The addition of Nick Foles was an intriguing one but wasn’t enough to give fans hope. Foles would only play 11 snaps in week one before getting injured. Gardner Minshew, a sixth-round pick, was thrust into action. The Jaguars eventually sent Jalen Ramsey packing to the Los Angeles Rams for two first-round picks, which was met with mixed emotions. Minshew would go onto have a solid rookie season that brought hope for Jacksonville fans to rely on for the future.
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Even before the offseason started, the Jaguars were making moves. While many thought it was time for Dave Caldwell and Doug Marrone to be fired, they were both retained. Since their magical 2017 season, the Jaguars have plummeted and went 11-21. The duo of Caldwell and Marrone went on to make some questionable decisions for the rest of the offseason.
In March, the Jaguars shipped A.J. Bouye off to the Broncos for a fourth-round draft pick, which they used on Josiah Scott. Bouye’s contract was far too expensive for the Jaguars who planned on franchise tag Yannick Ngakoue. During the same week, the front office also sent Calais Campbell packing to Baltimore, only for a fifth-round pick. In the meantime though, at least they got a fourth-round pick for the contract they gave Foles as they traded him to Chicago.
The Jaguars brought in some bodies on the defensive side of the ball with multiple free-agent signings including Joe Schobert. He will start immediately at the linebacker spot opposite of Myles Jack. Cassius Marsh was an under-the-radar signing that could have a bigger impact than expected although he’ll be the fourth man in the pass-rush rotation. Chris Thompson was also brought in to form a nice one-two punch with Leonard Fournette, while Tyler Eifert was added to give Minshew another weapon.
The Jaguars were a big topic of conversation heading into the draft. With two first-round picks, they could get a good start on what looked to be a potential rebuild. The ninth pick in the draft was spent on C.J. Henderson. He will try to fill the voids left by Bouye and Ramsey. The second first-round pick was spent on K’Lavon Chaisson. During the time, Ngakoue said he wanted nothing to do with the organization and was seen having twitter beef with members of the front office.
The selection of Chaisson allowed the Jaguars to potentially ship Ngakoue off if the problems were not resolved. Laviska Shenault was the second-round selection which gives Minshew another weapon to throw to or even handoff as an explosive weapon in Jay Gruden‘s offense. Davon Hamilton, Ben Bartch, and Scott could all battle for starting snaps and were later selections. There were also murmurs the team was trying to trade Fournette during the draft as well.
The Jaguars were the favorite to have the worst record in the league and secure the number one pick. In the last few days though, it seems as though Jacksonville is ready to undergo a complete rebuild. On Sunday morning, the Jaguars finally shipped off Ngakoue who had grown to become a massive problem in the locker room. Ultimately he was sent to Minnesota for a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick. He also took a five million dollar pay cut for this year just to get the trade to go through and give Minnesota some breathing room financially. This sparked the rumors that the Jaguars were not only tanking but that the organization was in shambles. Then on Monday morning, Jacksonville released Fournette and Marrone even went to the point to say, “We couldn’t get anything, a fifth, a sixth, anything. We couldn’t get anything.” Yikes.
With Fournette’s release, the Jacksonville offense now runs through Minshew’s arm. Fortunately for Minshew, the Jaguars do have some weapons. DJ Chark had a breakout season last year and is poised for another great year. Behind him, the Jaguars also have Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, and Shenault. When your fifth option is Keelan Cole, you’re certainly doing something right. The tight end position is a mess as Eifert was added following a season where he somehow managed to play 16 games. Josh Oliver needs to prove worthy of his third-round selection last year.
The rushing attack takes a massive blow as Fournette has been released. Now, it’s up to Ryquell Armstead and Devine Ozigbo to lead the rushing attack with Thompson factoring in on passing downs. The offensive line wasn’t great last year although they retained all five of their starters. The most important thing for the offense is to see Minshew’s progress and if he’s worth the keys to the franchise for years to come.
The front seven has undergone a massive makeover recently. Jack and Josh Allen are the stars of the group and with the addition of Chaisson, the Jaguars now have a potentially lethal young pass-rushing duo. Jacksonville also recently added Tim Jernigan who will team up with the likes of Hamilton and Taven Bryan on the interior. The duo of Jack and Schobert gives the Jaguars a nice tandem at the position. Leon Jacobs and Quincy Williams will factor in a bunch as well. The secondary is undergoing a massive makeover and Henderson is going to be met with extremely high expectations. Ronnie Harrison needs to step it up as well after being a third-round selection a few years back. The secondary is a mess, just like the organization.
Predicting the 53 Man Roster
The Jaguars usually carry two quarterbacks on their rosters but during the pandemic, no team should only carry two. Minshew has to prove that he can potentially be the future star of this lackluster Jacksonville team. The team sent a fifth-round pick to Pittsburgh to acquire Dobbs and he still has some potential. Glennon was added during the offseason as a veteran option for the two young guys ahead of him. Jake Luton will likely go to the practice squad.
With Fournette now gone, it’s up to Armstead to shoulder most of the load as Thompson hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Ozigbo and Robinson will factor in here and there. The Jaguars likely won’t be running the ball that much as they’ll be behind in most games. Look for Jacksonville to potentially bring in Devonta Freeman.
The top four are locks with Chark having a massive breakout last year and Conley being the slot guy. Westbrook was supposed to be the one to breakout last year but never did. Shenault is a perfect weapon for the offense and the team has major plans for him after spending a second-round choice to get him. Cole is a great fifth option while Johnson was a late-round selection that will make the team.
Eifert was added to potentially bring a spark while also taking Oliver under his wing. Oliver was supposed to be a big part of the offense as an athletic freak but suffered from injuries last year. O’Shaughnessy had a good start last year before the injury bug hit him as well. Davis makes the roster as the fourth tight end after being a late-round pick.
The starting five remains the same from last year. Robinson is one of the worst starting tackles in the league while Taylor needs to develop for the team to be better. Cann has competition in Bartch for the right guard spot which could go either way. Richardson is the swing tackle that could step in due to an injury while Shatley is the main interior backup. This group needs to take a big step forward.
Bryan and Jones return from last year. Bryan has seemingly been a bust since being selected in the first round in 2018. Jernigan was brought in to help a young group that includes Hamilton who the team chose in the third round. Gotsis was added to provide some depth. This group lost Al Woods and Rodney Gunter to opt-outs and retirements.
Allen had 10.5 sacks as a rookie and is now joined by Chaisson who will look to replace Ngakoue. Marsh has gone around the league serving time for a bundle of teams and now has a chance to stick on a Jacksonville team that needs depth and players that can play a key role. Smoot had six sacks last year in limited playing time and is a nice third-option off the bench.
In base packages, Jack, Schobert, and Jacobs will be the starters. With the addition of Schobert, Williams takes a backseat and will play in sub-packages. Quarterman was selected on day three and will earn the last linebacker spot over Joe Giles-Harris. Schobert and Jack are going to have to be leaders on a young, unproven defense.
The first three will line up as starters with Brock being the veteran of the group playing the role of teacher. Scott will back up Hayden in the slot while Herndon is thrust into the starting role opposite of Henderson on the outside due to Rashaan Melvin opting out. Claybrooks finds a spot on the roster thanks to his return ability.
Harrison needs to step it up whenever he’s in the lineup as he and Wilson are the starters in the backend on a secondary that desperately needs help. Wingard was a big factor on special teams last year and made the team as a result Wingard had 28 tackles last year while Harrison and Wilson led the team in tackles. Thomas and Reed make the team as rookies.
This group hasn’t changed from last year. Lambo has been the most accurate kicker in the league since midway through the 2017 season when he joined the Jaguars. Cooke had the best net punting average in the league last year.
The “tanking” Jaguars have some winnable games this year against Miami, Detroit, and Chicago. From week eight on though, their schedule is horrendous with games against Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Minnesota, and Baltimore. With four selections in the first two rounds of next year’s draft, it’s obvious the front office and coaching staff know they aren’t going to be making the playoffs this year and are already looking forward to the future.
Season Prediction: 3-13 and see which players they want to be apart of the rebuild.
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