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2017 Team Report: Jacksonville Jaguars

Offensive Philosophy

The Jacksonville Jaguars were an extremely pass-heavy team in 2015, but they got away with it because quarterback Blake Bortles and receiver Allen Robinson had a magical connection down the field. In 2016, the Jaguars flew a bit too close to the sun and got burned, as that connection fell apart overnight. With the deep element missing from his game, Bortles' completion percentage remained the same but his yards per completion fell by nearly two full yards and the pass-heavy Jaguars' offense came crashing back to earth. Spending a top-10 pick on a running back indicates the Jaguars are serious about restoring balance, (and hopefully bringing the deep ball back at the same time).

Quarterbacks

Starter: Blake Bortles
Backup(s): Chad Henne, Brandon Allen

Starting QB: 2016 was suppose to be the year the Jaguars turned their franchise around and Blake Bortles was in the mix to have a breakout year, where he would improve on his second season where he threw for 35 touchdowns and 4,428 yards. That was certainly not the case for Bortles and the Jaguars in 2016. The regression was real for Bortles as he struggled in his third year in the NFL and although he finished as the 9th best QB for fantasy purposes with 3,905 passing yards and 23 passing and 3 rushing touchdowns he continued to struggle with turnovers. Bortles played in all 16 games in 2016 but he was dealing with several minor injuries as he suffered a Grade 1 sprained right AC joint halfway through the season, and aggravated it five weeks later, and was also dealing with tendinitis in his right wrist. On May 1, 2017 the Jaguars picked up the fifth-year option on Bortles which will now guarantee him a $20 million salary in 2018. He has the support of the new executive vice president of football operations, Tom Coughlin who said "It makes sense for us going forward and it's good for Blake and for the Jaguars." Bortles has work to do this offseason and will have to prove it on the field in 2017, he has plenty of weapons around him with Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee in the receiving game and the pick 1st Round draft pick in Leonard Fournette who will try to balance out the offense with his dynamic running ability. Bortles offers a bonus to his fantasy production with his rushing ability which has allowed him to run for 669 yards and 5 touchdowns over the past two seasons.

Backup QB: Playing behind Blake Bortles we have the veteran Chad Henne who offers some stability if Bortles were to miss a game or two. Henne did not complete a single pass in 2016 as he wasn't needed on the field as Bortles didn't miss a snap. Back in 2009 and 2010, Henne played a combined 29 games passing for 2,878 and then 3,298 yards and 12 and 15 touchdown passes. Henne is no more than a NFL backup quarterback at this point in his career and that being said this will help keep a long leash on Bortles as he won't be looking over his shoulder at the next guy up. The next guy on the quarterback depth chart is Brandon Allen who was a 6th round pick in 2016. Allen will continue to develop this offseason and has a chance to overtake Henne as the teams backup quarterback going forward.

Running Backs

Starter: Leonard Fournette (R)
Backup(s): T.J. Yeldon, Chris Ivory, Corey Grant, I'tavius Mathers (R)
Fullback(s): Tommy Bohanon, Marquez Williams (R)

Starting RB: The Jaguars are looking like they are taking the same all-in approach with Leonard Fournette at running back this year as they did with Blake Bortles at quarterback in 2014. Fournette was the 4th Overall Pick in this year's NFL Draft and is ready to contribute at the NFL level immediately. In three years (31 games) at LSU, Fournette rushed for 3,830 yards, 40 touchdowns, and averaged 6.2 yards per carry. Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell says that the decision to use the fourth overall pick on running back Leonard Fournette was about making the Jaguars a better team immediately. "Leonard's a guy we think can come in and make an immediate impact, we're in a win now mode as we should be." Jacksonville's offensive line has been a question mark for some time now as no running back has averaged 4.0 yards per carry since 2011. As a team they only ran the ball 37 percent of the time in 2016 but that has a lot to do with the team being behind in games. The question on Fournette that everyone wants to know is if he is an NFL three-down-back. In 31 games at LSU he caught 40 passes but yet still managed to drop 8 passes.

Backup RBs: 2016 was suppose to be the year that the Jaguars running game started to trend upward with T.J. Yeldon looking to take the step forward from his impressive rookie season and addition of Chris Ivory in free agency. Both backs failed to deliver with Yeldon only rushing for 465 yards and Ivory 439 with a combined 4 rushing touchdowns. Yeldon offers a little extra with his catching ability as he caught 50 passes for 312 yards and a touchdown. With the high draft pick of Fournette, it is likely he will easily win the starting job moving forward and Yeldon will likely continue to have a big roll on passing plays and 3rd downs. Ivory on the other hand will most likely be a true backup to Fournette and spell him for only a handful of carries. Ivory's time in Jacksonville might be running thin with Fournette and Yeldon looking like a nice one-two punch. Corey Grant is another name to throw in the mix and he showed some promise in the season finale against the Colts last year as he rushed 18 times for 122 yards and a touchdown. The Jaguars backfield has some nice looking talent on the depth chart but they need to show it on the field and improve upon their terrible 2016 numbers.

Fullback: Tommy Bohanon and rookie Marquez Williams are listed on the teams roster at the FB position but it is unknown how the team will utilize the position at this point.

Wide Receivers

Starters: Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee
Backups: Dede Westbrook [R], Arrelious Benn, Rashad Greene, Bryan Walters, Kenneth Walker, Amba Etta-Tawo (R), Larry Pinkard, Keelan Cole (R)

Starting WRs: It is a fresh new year for the entire team and it all starts with the teams star WR Allen Robinson. After his breakout season in 2015 where he dropped an 80/1400/14 statline he fell back to earth with a 73/883/6 line in 2016. The crazy part of those numbers is that fact that he had 151 and 150 receptions in each of those two seasons but 2016 was filled with drops and the big plays just weren't there for Robinson like they were the year before. With the investment in the running game with Fournette, the pressure will come down on both Bortles and Robinson and big plays could very much be on the horizon once again. Allen Hurns had similar issues to what Robinson dealt with last season but also was limited with injuries and only ended up playing 11 games where he put up a 35/477/3 statline. The expectations were sky high for this passing offense entering last season and Hurns was a big reason for that as he had impressive 64/1031/10 numbers. No one could have predicted such a regression for this passing offense in 2016. The pressure will be off this season and both Robinson and Hurns along with Bortles have a real shot at redeeming themselves. With both Robinson and Hurns struggling it was Marqise Lee the teams WR3 that stepped up with an impressive 63/851/3 line on 105 targets. Lee will be a big part of the offense going forward and if he can continue to make plays when the other two big play WRs are also making plays he should be able to see some clean looks and 100+ targets is not out of the question.

Backup WRs: Bryan Walters and Arrelious Benn were the other two WRs that saw some action last year with Walters being a preseason warrior and fighting his way onto the roster he appeared in 10 games and caught 24 passes for 231 yards and 2 touchdowns. Benn was more of a special teams player and although he played in 15 games he only caught 5 passes all season for 116 yards and a touchdown. The Jaguars spent a 4th round selection on Dede Westbrook out of Oklahoma who has already been in the news with a troubled past. If you are only looking at Westbrook the football player than the Jaguars got a very good athlete who has potential to make some big plays at the next level. Westbrook caught 80 passes for 1,542 yards and 17 touchdowns last season for the Sooners. If you can focus on football and stay out of trouble off the field he has a good chance of contributing right away for the Jaguars and could be slotted in as their WR4 and would be ready to step in if one the guys in front of him went down with any sort of injury.

Tight Ends

Starters: Mychal Rivera
Backups: Marcedes Lewis, Ben Koyack, Neal Sterling, Alex Ellis

Julius Thomas was a fail for the Jaguars in his two seasons with the team as he could never stay on the field. Thomas is now a member of the Miami Dolphins and the Jaguars signed Mychal Rivera who will compete with Mercedes Lewis and Ben Koyack for the starting TE gig. Rivera is entering his fifth year in the league but has always been in a time share spot with the Raiders. The same could hold true with the Jaguars with veteran Marcedes Lewis and Ben Koyack right their beside him on the depth chart. Lewis caught 20 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown while Koyack caught 19 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown. This is not the team you want to look at when it comes to filling in your TE position this season.

Place Kicker

Jason Myers, Nick Weiler [R]: Jason Myers has been solid for the Jaguars since winning the job in 2015, but he did fall off a bit last year, making only 27 of 34 field goal attempts, although the team did give him 12 attempts from 50+ and he converted seven of them. He also missed three of 32 extra point attempts. The team isn't sold on Myers long term, but he is ultra-cheap as a kicker still playing on an undrafted free agent contract. Jacksonville did sign Nick Weiler as an undrafted free agent this year to give Myers some camp competition. Weiler nailed a 54-yard kick to beat Florida State, but he also missed six of his 21 attempts last year at North Carolina, including three of six from 30-39 yards. Myers should be safe, but he's not worth a pick in typical leagues.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Marqise Lee, Corey Grant

Last year, Jacksonville ran a two-player rotation on kickoff returns. With both Marqise Lee and Corey Grant scheduled to return, things may look very similar in 2017.

Punt Returners: Rashad Greene, Bryan Walters

Greene was Jacksonville's top punt returner in 2016 before going down with an achilles injury. Recovery timetables for achilles injuries have been improving, but the rehab can still be difficult; if Greene struggles in his return, Bryan Walters was the man who took up the slack after he went down.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Branden Albert, LG Patrick Omameh, C Brandon Linder, RG A.J. Cann, RT Jermey Parnell
Key Backups: Cam Robinson [R], Earl Watford, Luke Bowanko, Jeremiah Poutasi, Josh Wells

The Jaguars' offensive line is a stout run blocking unit. Right tackle Jermey Parnell is among the better in the league at pushing the pile. He and center Brandon Linder both played at an above average level last year. Right guard A.J. Cann played every snap last season and has the job all to himself. The team traded for Branden Albert this offseason and on paper that should be a huge upgrade over last year's left tackles. However Albert is reportedly unhappy with his current contract and he is not participating in offseason programs. The team drafted Cam Robinson in round two out of Alabama, and in a perfect world he would convert to left guard as a rookie. However Robinson could actually start at left tackle if the Albert situation doesn't resolve itself. Left guard is a competition between Patrick Omameh and Earl Watford. Neither are great pass protectors but both are hardy run blockers. This line could be ranked in the top tier if the Jaguars can get Albert and Robinson on the field at the same time.

Team Defense

The Jaguars defense didn't come together as planned last year, only posting seven interceptions and nine forced fumbles to go along with a middling 33 sacks, but there is a lot of optimism about them climbing way out of the bottom five fantasy D/ST basement, as they are going in the top 10-12 in 2017 drafts. First-round pick Jalen Ramsey was an instant shutdown corner and he will be joined by most analysts #1 corner in free agency, AJ Bouye. Box safety John Cyprien is gone to Tennessee, but he'll be replaced by Barry Church in what should be a wash. Jacksonville also added Calais Campbell in free agency, which should give them a very strong front four on run downs and even stronger pass rush if he moves inside on passing downs. Myles Jack will take over the middle from Paul Posluszny, giving the team extra speed and playmaking ability. With a mix of draft assets and free agent splash signings, the Jaguars have the personnel to be a strong fantasy D/ST, and the fantasy community is projecting that kind of leap. Perhaps it is a bit too optimistic to spend a pick on the Jaguars D/ST, but they should be greatly improved and at least merit matchup consideration.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Dante Fowler Jr., DE Calais Campbell, DT Malik Jackson, DT Sheldon Day
Backups: DE Yannick Ngakoue, DE Dawuane Smoot [R], DT Mike Bennett, DT Stefan Charles

Starting DL: Dante Fowler Jr. spent his first year on IR after a knee injury in rookie minicamp. Last year, he ceded playing time to backup Yannick Ngakoue when he was ineffective in games. It's a make-or-break year for Fowler and he is well aware of the pressure. In a recent interview, Fowler said, "I've been focusing on my technique. I'm a very athletic guy. I can move and do all the athletic things, but looking at film, once I put my technique into the athleticism I can be a great pass rusher. That's what I've been focusing on - pass-rushing, getting off the ball, staying low, learning how to stay on my line and have a great countermove as well. That's my job - to sack the quarterback, and I need to do that." He'll have some help on the opposite side from veteran addition Calais Campbell, who signed a four-year, 60 million dollar deal. Campbell indicated in an interview that though he is moving from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 scheme, he feels confident in making the leap because he played in a 4-3 in college. Former Bronco Malik Jackson, who signed with the Jaguars a year prior, will benefit from the addition of Campbell. Even without Campbell, Jackson ended 2016 with 6.5 sacks in 2016. Sheldon Day, the fourth-round selection last year, had moments where he flashed but also moments where he struggled. The Jaguars will hope he can take the leap forward to consistency in year two.

Backup DL: The Jaguars won't forget about what Yannick Ngakoue did in his rookie year, setting the franchise record for sacks by a rookie with eight. He will undoubtedly end up in the rotation and perhaps even earn a starting spot if Fowler Jr. continues to struggle. Newly drafted Dawuane Smoot was not only a strong run defender at Illinois -- he frequently was in the backfield disrupting the play. When asked what his role would be with the team, Smoot replied, "I'm a pass rusher." Mike Bennett spent 2016 on injured reserve due to a calf injury and did not have much playing time in his rookie year. He will get some snaps in the rotation. Stefan Charles has spent time with multiple clubs, including most recently, the Detroit Lions. Charles was responsible in part for the Lions improving against the run last season and it may have been these performances that caught Jacksonville's eye.

Linebackers

Starters: WLB Telvin Smith, MLB Myles Jack, SLB Paul Posluszny
Backups: WLB Lerentee McCray, WLB Josh McNary MLB Audie Cole, SLB Blair Brown [R]

Starting LBs: Even though most of the faces are old on this unit, the roles are new. Telvin Smith moves from the strong side to the weak side. Paul Posluszny is being moved to the strong side after spending ten seasons at the inside spot. Myles Jack will be tasked with being the every-down player in the middle of the unit, despite spending most of his snaps on the outside last year. Jack understands that being the man in the middle is a heavy responsibility. Talking with a writer recently, Jack stated, "That's my biggest goal is just proving to these coaches that I can be a three-down player, that they can trust me and that everybody on that field can trust me." This will mean that Posluszny will come off the field on third down in favor of a defensive back.

Backup LBs: Lerentee McCray spent last season with the Bills as an important part of their special teams unit. He will likely serve in this capacity for the Jaguars. For additional depth, the team added the former Viking Audie Cole and former Colt Josh McNary. With capped upside, they'll merely be there in the event that injuries strike. Blair Brown may be the eventual Telvin Smith replacement, as Smith only has a year left on his contract and they are very similar stylistically.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Jalen Ramsey, CB AJ Bouye, FS Tashaun Gipson, SS Barry Church
Backups: CB Aaron Colvin, CB Jalen Myrick [R], FS Peyton Thompson, SS James Sample

Starting DBs: This unit got major upgrades through free agency. Not only do they have the outstanding Jalen Ramsey, they add another young corner talent to play opposite him by acquiring former Texan AJ Bouye. At Florida State's Pro Day, Ramsey said of the duo, "It's going to be great. We're going to grind. We're going to grow." Tashaun Gipson voiced frustration with the scheme last season and hopes that Todd Wash will make adjustments that allow him to showcase more playmaking ability. Barry Church replaces Jonathan Cyprien, who departed to play in Tennessee. At 29 years old, Church will be expected to provide the veteran presence for this young group. After signing his contract, Church spoke to the media and said, "Hopefully, I'll be able to get these boys going in the right direction with my leadership and playing ability." Church also said, "The sky's the limit. Hopefully we can turn things around. ... They have all the talent. The defensive side of the ball is loaded with young talent. The offense is the same as well. It's a team that's definitely loaded. If we get in the right direction, we can turn it around."

Backup DBs: Aaron Colvin will continue to serve as the team's nickel corner. Seventh-round selection Jalen Myrick projects as a player that may be able to become a competent slot corner in a few years. Peyton Thompson converted from corner to safety last year and largely did special teams work. He'll be back in the same capacity this year after signing the exclusive rights tender Jaguars placed upon him. James Sample has been injured for a large part of his two-year career, the most recent instance being a shoulder injury sustained in preseason that shut him down for the entirety of 2016. Most scouts felt Sample would need refinement when he was drafted in 2015 and the lack of playing experience surely hurts his case to hang on this roster long-term.

Last modified: 2017-05-25 02:54:46