Football

The Jacksonville Jaguars Future Remains Unclear, But Rebuilding Has Begun

Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer at mandatory minicamp on Monday, June 14, 2021. (Bob Self/Florida Times-Union)

The Jacksonville Jaguars unofficially kicked off a rebuilding period by making many moves in both the coaching staff and on the roster. The future is still very murky, something that is expected with the new regime and new players. New General Manager Trent Baalke and incoming head coach Urban Meyer have a lot on their plate, but they have some solid pieces to work with.

The Jacksonville Jaguars did not surprise anyone in the slightest when they selected QB Trever Lawrence out of Clemson with the first selection in the draft. However, their second pick of the night might be questioned by many. The Jags had the 25th overall selection from the Jalen Ramsey trade in 2019, a selection they used on RB Travis Etienne, Lawrence’s teammate at Clemson. If the team had no run game, the Etienne selection would have been great. However, rookie RB James Robinson, who was undrafted out of Illinois State, ended the 2020 NFL season tied for 5th in the league with 1,070 rushing yards. The pick might look better if the team desired a lightning-thunder approach to the run game, but the team had many larger holes to fill.

After filling the quarterback position with Lawrence, the team could go in many different directions with their second pick. Lawrence might want help outside of DJ Chark Jr. and Keelan Cole in the receiver room; this draft had plenty of them available. Their leading TE was Tyler Eifert, who had 349 yards. He is not on the team anymore, forcing the team to pick up former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and shift him from QB to TE. The offensive line is good on the inside, but it would be nice to invest in protection for your franchise passer.

The defense is a whole different story when it comes to needs, as the only recognizable names all play the linebacker position. They have been developing some corners and safeties, but veteran talent doesn’t look evident in most levels of their defense.

The defense is a whole different story when it comes to needs, as the only recognizable names all play the linebacker position. They have been developing some corners and safeties, but some veteran talent is not evident in most levels of their defense.

The one good-looking area on the 1-15 team is the special teams. It is not the best, but it will do for a rebuilding team. On top of having the franchise’s most accurate kicker in Josh Lambo, the team brought in former Pro Bowler Aldrick Rosas, formerly of the New York Giants, to give the team at least one competition over the offseason. Their punter ranks within the top third of the league, and their Long Snapper seems to need no competition for motivation.

Did the Jacksonville Jaguars do enough to win more than one game?

The front office had their hands full already, and it seems like they dabbled into every position once. Following the 2-first rounders, a corner and an O-lineman were selected in the second round, a safety in the third, two defensive linemen (DT and DE) were chosen in the fourth, a TE in the fifth, and a wideout in the sixth. Their draft didn’t solve all the problems, but it gave more young talent to a team with minimal talent under former head coach Doug Marrone in 2020.

When it came to finding veterans, free agency seemed to fit the bill for most positions. Jacksonville had one of the deeper free agency classes of the league; however, not as many flashy names were on the list. CB Shaquill Griffin and WR Marvin Jones Jr. were the flashiest of their signings, also providing the team with the veteran help they needed. Alongside Griffin and Jones on the newcomer train are safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Rudy Ford, WR Phillip Dorsett, RB Carlos Hyde, defensive ends Roy Robertson-Harris and Jihad Ward, TE Chris Manhertz, and returner Jamal Agnew. In addition, they re-signed TE James O’Shaughnessy, corners Tre Herndon and Sidney Jones, DE Dawuane Smoot, and offensive lineman Tyler Shatley. The Jaguars seem to expect every one of these players to contribute in a big way this next season, especially with lots of young talent around them.

When it comes to the coaching staff, the Jags cleaned house, something expected of a one-win team. Urban Meyer hired big-name assistants such as Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell, Passing Game Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, Offensive Line Coach George Warhop, Defensive Coordinator Joe Cullen, and Senior Defensive Assistant Bob Sutton. If there were to be a shift in performance this upcoming season, Coach Meyer surely seems to have put the right pieces in his staff.

The Jaguars seemed to have flipped everything from the 2020 season and completely turned it around. If that is true, then hopefully, the team will flip last year’s 1-15 season. The coaches are there; the pieces are in place, it is now up to the team to produce so the fans have something to cheer for.

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