The Jacksonville Jaguars have been perpetually bad since the owner, Shad Khan bought the team in 2011. Many fans believed the abysmal 2020 record would be difficult to beat. However, the Urban Meyer-led Jaguars proved anything is possible.
Meyer would be fired after 13 games and several controversies. The controversies leaked onto the field, as shown by the lack of development from the first overall pick, Trevor Lawrence. The team would go 3-14 in a dreadful year but did end on a high note when they prevented the Indianapolis Colts from going to the playoffs by winning their final game. Overall, the Jaguars secured the number one overall pick in the draft for the second year in a row.
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What Went Right
The Jaguars have some young talent who got better despite a terrible environment. The young core of the Jaguars is something to keep an eye on as they could turn this team around. Moreover, reports suggested that Khan will retain general manager Trent Baalke, and as a result, the fanbase protested. In what was one of the most united fan bases in sports, many changed their Twitter profile pictures to clowns with a Khan mustache, to showcase their disappointment in keeping Baalke. The story would be picked up by multiple news agencies and showed a united fanbase that can have its voice heard.
What Went Wrong
Everything went wrong, and despite a unified protest from fans, the team has not fired Baalke. Baalke has a poor reputation around the NFL and may end up limiting the number of head coaches who will take the Jaguars’ job. A report indicated Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn didn’t take the requested interview, and many speculate that it is because Baalke is still general manager. On the actual roster, right tackle Jawaan Taylor did not improve and was fifth in penalties amongst offensive linemen. The receiving core hindered the Jaguars’ offense game to game, with incorrect routes, dropped passes, and a lack of separation. The defense lacked overall talent and often gave up touchdowns easily.
Team Award Winners
MVP – Trevor Lawrence
Lawrence isn’t the MVP for his play on the field, but rather his calm demeanor and sailing the ship through rough waters. Lawrence is a true leader and sometimes was the only person available to the media after losses. On the field, there were four very impressive games where he showed potential. Specifically, in the second Colts game, he showed rare playmaking ability, turning a poor snap into a highlight-reel touchdown. While Lawrence’s touchdown to interception ratio (12 to 17) wasn’t good, the 3,641 yards would break the Jaguar’s passing yardage for a rookie. Overall, this season is not indicative of what Lawrence can be. He still has the potential to be elite and one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Walker Little
In the three full starts Little played, he showed the ability to be a competent NFL tackle. In his last two starts, Little registered only one hurry against. While it might not seem impressive, the context of the opponent is important, the New England Patriots and the Colts have great defensive lines filled with depth. For Little, to be better than average is an achievement on its own, as tackles tend to have one of the hardest transitions amongst rookies.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Tyson Campbell
It was a tale of two seasons for Campbell, as he gave up 345 yards in his first four weeks, which is very bad. However, after Week 9, Campbell gave up one game over 50 yards. The dominant stretch is nothing to overlook as he played against a number of respectable opponents including the Los Angeles Rams and the Colts. After Week 9, he gave up 278 yards and had two interceptions. The most notable game was against the Atlanta Falcons where Campbell went toe to toe with Kyle Pitts (for most of the game) and held him to two receptions for 26 yards. Overall, Campbell showed flashes of a lockdown cornerback, and the ability to become a staple of the Jaguar’s defense.
Biggest Surprise – Laquon Treadwell
Treadwell was signed early in September and would become a key piece in this Jaguars offense. Essentially, Treadwell developed the best rapport with Lawrence after Week 12. He would connect with Lawrence from weeks 12 to 18 for 31 receptions, 405 yards, and one touchdown. He showed flashes of his college days with excellent release off the line, contested catches, and secure hands. However, the biggest reason Treadwell ascended was how reliable he was, with only one drop from Weeks 12 to 18. Overall, Treadwell has earned the right to be re-signed by the Jaguars and to have a chance to fight for a starting role in the 2022 season.
Biggest Disappointment – Laviska Shenault
Shenault was primed for a breakout season as he was an unpolished receiver coming into the NFL. Entering his second season, Shenualt was expected to take a jump in running routes, and be more included as a gadget player. While the coaching staff failed to put Shenault into a position to succeed, he did himself no favors as his route running did not improve and his hands got worse. The concern going forward is now the drops, where Shenault had ten of them on 95 targets. A 13 percent drop rate may seem bad, but what was worse is many of the drops killed drives or were on critical plays.
One Burning Question
Will they Put a Support Cast Around Lawrence?
Lawrence threw the ball 602 times this year, of which the receiving core had 359 receptions for 59.6 completion percent. Of the 243 uncaught targets, 37 were dropped, illustrating a lack of support from the receiving core. The rare playmaking ability showed up from time to time from Lawrence, but was often interrupted by pressure, drops, and a lack of offensive rhythm. The offense needs rebuilding, as there are few pieces who can be difference-makers. The most critical concern is the lack of an alpha-level wide receiver who can separate and make plays in critical situations. However, there may be some hope, as the team has a significant amount of cap space and they could sign or make a trade for a veteran wide receiver.
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