Dale Money Aug 8th, 2019
After taking the New England Patriots to the wire, in the AFC title game two seasons ago expectations were high going into last season, however, after an encouraging 3-1 start it would all end up going completely south. Losing seven straight games, it wasn’t until December that they were able to win another one. Inevitably they would finish 5-11 and in the basement of the division.
In those final 5 games, they were kept under 20 points. Things do seem to be trending in the right direction, however. It began in January when they hired John De Filippo as offensive coordinator, and only two months later Blake Bortles was sent packing after 5 seasons in Jacksonville.
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Since Mark Brunell, the Jaguars haven’t had a true franchise quarterback. The free-agent addition of Nick Foles should hopefully fill that big deficiency. He brings the championship pedigree, with the ability to finish in the tough spots. Completing eight fourth-quarter comebacks and ten game-winning drives in his career. DeFilippo was the Quarterback coach during Foles Super Bowl run in 2017. So hopefully there is some built-in chemistry with the pair.
After a really solid rookie season where he rushed for over 1,000 yards. Leonard Fournette had the proverbial sophomore jinx, missing half of the season, accumulating just over 400 yards on the ground and 3.3 yards per carry. I’m sure some of it can be attributed to, not showing up to camp in proper shape. He reportedly has shown up to camp, in much better shape this time around.
The Jaguars did not get a lot of production out of their tight ends last season either. Geoff Swaim signed on with the Jaguars for two years at 6.6 million back in March. A talented blocker in his own right, Swaim had been with the Cowboys for four years. But it wasn’t until Jason Witten left last year when he was given a starting role. The Jaguars also drafted tight end, Josh Oliver, in the third round. Oliver certainly has the most offensive talent, out of the tight ends but needs work on his blocking.
The Jaguars wide receiver core is one of the real question marks going into the season. A real mish-mosh, they have a lot of players with potential along with a couple of journeymen in Terrelle Pryor and Chris Conley. Dede Westbrook led all Jags receivers with over 700 yards and 5 touchdowns, expect him to hold onto the top role. Marqise Lee is still working his way back from his torn ACL, it would not be a real surprise if he misses all of pre-season.
The Jaguars pass defense was one of the few bright spots in 2018, they allowed the second-fewest yards and were also ranked fifth in net yards per game. Jalen Ramsey will be playing out the final year of his four-year rookie contract. He is still one of the leagues top cornerbacks and will be expected to be rewarded as such.
Yannick Ngakoue attempted to holdout for a new contract, after 11 days he would end up buckling and reported to camp. An exceptional defensive end in his own right, Ngakoue has 29 1/2 sacks and 10 forced fumbles the last three seasons. Entering the final year of a rookie contract that pays him 3.84 million. He’ll be looking for in the range of just over 20 million a season.
The Jaguars leading tackler from last year, Telvin Smith announced he does not plan on playing in 2019. Over the past five seasons, Smith has been the cornerstone at linebacker. The surprise loss of Smith will leave a huge hole at linebacker, that Myles Jack will need to try and help fill the best he can. He has now become arguably the most important player on the defensive side of the ball. Jack had a huge 2018 season, was second on the team in both solo and combined tackles.
If he continues to produce at such a high clip the Jaguars will have some tough financial decisions. Can they afford to pay him along with Ramsey and Ngakoue? I expect one of those three players won’t be around next year.
53 Man Roster Projection
QB (2) Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew
The Jaguars will opt to only keep two quarterbacks on their opening day roster, and Tanner Lee beats out Alex McGough. Minshew a 6th round pick in this year’s draft has impressed in camo, he will begin his career as the backup to Foles.
On the bubble: Tanner Lee
RB (5) Leonard Fournette, Ryquell Armstead, Thomas Rawls, Benny Cunningham, Alfred Blue
Fournette has been working a lot on his passing game, having caught numerous balls in camp so far. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by DeFillipo apparently. It will be interesting to see if that part of his game is utilized. Blue and Armstead will be the two main backups, Cunningham with his ability to play special teams as a returner or in coverage, will be a useful guy to have around.
On the bubble: Roc Thomas
WR (6) Dede Westbrook, Marqise Lee, DJ Chark Terrelle Pryor, Keelan Cole, Chris Conley
Coming off a 66 catch season, Westbrook is the undisputed number one receiver. It’s still not clear when Lee will be, ready to get back onto the field. Second-year player Chark has done well in camp, and would likely take over as the number two guy. Pryor has made some worthwhile gains in training camp, however even then its no guarantee he sticks with the roster.
TE (4) Geoff Swaim, Ben Koyack, Josh Oliver, James O’Shaughnessy
The Jags will go heavy at tight end, as four players are expected to make the 53 man roster. Swaim is locked in as the number one receiver, Oliver has suffered a serious hamstring injury and expects to be kept out for multiple weeks. O’Shaugnessy will fill in behind Swaim on the depth chart.
OL (9) Brandon Linder, Cam Robinson, A.J. Cann, Jawaan Taylor, Cedric Ogbuehi, Andrew Norwell, Tyler Shatley, Will Richardson, Leonard Wester
On the bubble: Josh Wells
With Robinson still ailing from last years ACL injury, the starting left tackle job is open. Ogbuehi, Wells and Wester have all worked at left tackle in camp. Ogbuehi comes off a rough season with the Cincinnati Bengals, where he only played in two games. He now looks to be settled in at right tackle.
DL (9) Yannick Ngakoue, Josh Allen, Abry Jones, Taven Bryan, Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, Eli Ankou, Dawuane Smoot, Datone Jones
Ngakoue has gotten a lot of work with the first team early in practice, after ending his training-camp holdout. Veteran defensive end Campbell is coming off a 10.5 sack season and will be counted on for his veteran leadership.
On the bubble: Dontavius Russell
LB (5) Myles Jack, Leon Jacobs, Najee Goode, Quincy Williams, Ramik Wilson
Rookie Quincy Williams will miss 6 weeks due to a knee injury. Williams had been quite impressive in camp, even managing to pick off a pass from Foles. Hopefully, he should be ready for their opening game, if not Wilson would likely get the starting role. Jack and Jacobs will continue starting at middle and strong-side respectively.
On the bubble: James Onwualu
CB (6) Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, D.J. Hayden, Quenton Meeks, Tre Herndon, Breon Borders
Bouye and Ramsey, are the obvious starters going into the season. While Bouye’s play may have dipped slightly in 2018 while he was dealing with injuries, theirs no doubting his talent as a top tier corner. Borders is continuing to have a solid camp and should make the 53 man roster.
On the bubble: Brandon Watson
SAF (4) Ronnie Harrison, Jarrod Wilson, C.J. Reavis, Cody Davis
The starting positions are set, Harrison and Wilson will be starting at free and strong safety, respectively.
ST (3) Josh Lambo, Logan Cooke, Matt Overton
Nothing on special teams has changed much since last year. Lambo was signed during the offseason for another four seasons. A dangerous weapon to be sure, he converted 19-of-21 field goals and missed just one extra point in 2018.
The Jaguars are in a prime position, to rise back to the top of the division. One real nagging dilemma with this club is with Foles and the quarterback spot. Can he manage to buck his trend of unsuccessful tenures, when not playing with the Eagles? However, for Foles to have a chance to prove himself that offensive line, will need to stay healthy for the most part as they were decimated last year. They gave up 53 sacks last year which was tied for third-most.
A healthy Fournette will be beneficial, how much will De Filippo try and get him to mix in more receiving with his rushing game. Theirs still a lot of talent on the defense, if the offense can just do a better job of staying on the field and give them more in the way of point support. It will go far to determine the team’s success.
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