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2018 Team Report: Jacksonville Jaguars

Offensive Philosophy

Offensive-minded head coach Doug Marrone first made his mark coordinating the unbelievably pass-heavy Drew Brees Saints, (including presiding over his first 5,000 yard season), but after a stint coaching college, he re-emerged in the NFL with a completely different mindset. Marrone now runs an up-tempo, run-first spread. His Jaguars led the NFL in offensive plays last year despite being one of just two teams to call as many rushes as passes. He relentlessly pushes the pace, which means his teams often finish the season with what is essentially an entire 17th game's worth of extra plays relative to league average.


Starter: Blake Bortles
Backup(s): Cody Kessler, Tanner Lee [R]

Starting QB: Blake Bortles improved on his completion percentage in 2017 to 60.2 percent and led the Jaguars to the AFC Championship game. The team continues to show trust in Bortles up and down five year career and it paid off last season with the playoff run. Bortles has not missed a game over the past 3 seasons and has finished as the 4th, 9th and 13th best fantasy quarterback over that span. The interceptions have always been the problem for Bortles and last year he also cut that number down to 13 which was down from 16 the previous year. Bortles can give you points with his arm but he also continues to run the ball effectively and has never had under 52 rushing attempts on a season. It is becoming more rare to find a quarterback that can give you a rushing bonus and that is often over looked with Bortles. Over his career he averages 3.6 rushing attempts a game for 22.7 yards and 11 percent chance at a rushing touchdown. Although his passing touchdowns have been in the low 20's over the past two seasons he somewhat makes up for it with his rushing stats.

Backup QB: With Chad Henne off to Kansas City, the Jaguars traded a 2019 conditional seventh-round draft pick to the Browns for Cody Kessler. Kessler has some NFL experience as he stated eight games for the Browns and generated a 63.8 completion rate at 6.9 yards per attempt and 6 touchdown passes. The team also went and drafted Tanner Lee out of Nebraska in the 6th round this year. So both Kessler and Lee will be the depth behind Blake Bortles going forward.

Running Backs

Starter: Leonard Fournette
Backup(s): T.J. Yeldon, Corey Grant, Brandon Wilds, Tim Cook
Fullback(s): Tommy Bohanon, Lamar Atkins

Starting RB: It is hard to argue with what Leonard Fournette accomplished in his rookie season. In 13 games he finished as the 8th best fantasy running back with 1,040 rushing yards, 9 touchdowns and 36 receptions for 302 receiving yards and another touchdown. The only drawback you might have for him is his 3.9 yards per carry which you would like to see him increase this upcoming season. He had five games where he rushed for 100+ yards (100, 181, 130, 111, 101) and showed that he can handle heavy workloads with 26, 28, 21, 28, and 24 rushing attempts in those games. With the competition behind Fournette only T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant right now, it is looking like Fournette will be in line for a productive 2018 season with a heavy usage rate. The Jaguars have built a balanced team on both offense and defense and controlling the clock will be a big part of their game in 2018 which will be lead by the rushing attack of Leonard Fournette.

Backup RBs: T.J. Yeldon benefited in his role on the team with the addition of Fournette last year. As far as volume goes, of course Fournette ate into that but as far as effeciency goes it was a major plus for Yeldon. He only rushed the ball 49 times compared to 182 and 130 times in his first two seasons but he did a lot more with his opportunities averaging 5.2 yards a carry. Corey Grant also was a big benefit with Fournette averaging 8.3 yards a carry on just 30 attempts and showing big play ability with some long runs and a couple of touchdowns. Yeldon and Grant might not be the biggest names out there at the running back positions but they are both excellent compliments to what Fournette brings and can be nice change of pace backs for the Jaguars and have the potential to run for a big chunk of yardage when given the ball at any time.


Wide Receivers

Starters: Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole
Backups: Donte Moncrief, D.J. Chark [R], Rashad Greene, Allen Lazard [R], Jaydon Mickens, Tevaun Smith, Shane Wynn

Starting WRs: The Jaguars wide reciever core is crowded with names right now with the likes of Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook, Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole and newly drafted speedster D.J. Chark. Marqise Lee is now out of the mix for the 2018 season as he suffered a season ending knee injury in the third week of preseason. Keelan Cole looks to be the next man up and he had a fine rookie season last season with 42/748/3 season. Cole's offensive numbers were overlooked by some of the other offensive rookies in the league but as an undrafted free agent he made a strong case for himself that he belongs in this league. Dede Westbrook would be the next name on the depth chart and he brings some speed to this receiver group and in 7 games in his rookie season he caught 27 passes for 339 yards and a touchdown. The Lee, Cole, and Westbrook trio doesn't look that scary at first glance but as a whole they can do everything that Bortles and and Jaguars offense requires of them.

Backup WRs: The Jaguars also added in Donte Moncrief in free agency and D.J. Chark via the draft to add some real depth to this wide reciever group. Moncrief started off his career for the Colts very promising showing he could be a reliable WR2 for the team. Once Andrew Luck started to suffer from injuries and couldn't find his way onto the field it was a different story, as Moncrief struggled with the backup quarterbacks for the Colts. Last season looked to be a breakout type of year coming into the season but ended up in disaster for Moncrief with just 26 catches for 391 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 12 games. He will look to find a solid role on this team with no pressure for him to be the WR2 on the team. The Jaguars also added D.J. Chark in the 2nd round who has exceptional speed will also look to contribute on this depth filled WR roster.

Tight Ends

Starters: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Backups: James O'Shaughnessy, Niles Paul, Ben Koyack, David Grinnage

The Jaguars were in search of a tight end this offseason and landed on 5th year Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Seferian-Jenkins is coming off his most productive season as a pro with 50 catches for 357 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. The numbers aren't great but you also have to consider that was in a New York Jets offense and now moving to the Jaguars offense that could change. With the Jaguars deciding not to go with a tight end in the draft the usage is more clear and Seferian-Jenkins should be in line for extended looks. The team also signed Niles Paul in free agency and will return veterans Ben Koyack and James O'shaughnessy. Another player the coaching staff seems to be intrigued by is David Grinnage, who was on the practice squad in 2017.

Place Kicker

Josh Lambo: Josh Lambo was a refreshing change at kicker for the Jaguars during the 2017 campaign after Jason Myers never really hit his stride after joining the team in 2016. Lambo was a surprise cut from the Chargers, one that they probably regretted after having kicker problems of their own. He went on to make 19-20 field goal attempts although he did miss two of his 24 extra point attempts. If he had played the entire season with the Jaguars and scored at his average for the games he missed, he would have finished among the top 12 scoring kickers in the league, making him a reasonable target if you are one of the last to take a kicker in your league.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Corey Grant, Keelan Cole

A former undrafted free agent, Corey Grant has carved out a role as a very reliable kickoff returner over the last three years.

Punt Returners: Jaydon Mickens, Dede Westbrook

Rookie Dede Westbrook did not get much opportunity to compete at punt returner last year after an injury robbed him of the first half of the season. In his absence, Jaydon Mickens siezed the job and ran with it, twice winning AFC special teams player of the week on the back of a 60+ yard return.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Cam Robinson, LG Andrew Norwell, C Brandon Linder, RG A.J. Cann, RT Jermey Parnell
Key Backups: Josh Wells, Will Richardson, Tyler Shatley

All Pro left guard Andrew Norwell arrived via free agency from Carolina and he immediately becomes the Jaguars' best lineman. Left tackle Cam Robinson had an up-and-down rookie season but he did start all 16 games and the playoffs, which was great experience. Center Brandon Linder is quietly among the league's better pivot players and the right side of A.J. Cann and Jermey Parnell are maulers. Swing tackle Josh Wells provides good depth. The Jaguars' offensive line enter the season as a top-tier option.

Team Defense

The Jaguars reigned over the NFL and fantasy leagues on the defensive side of the ball in a culmination of good drafts, free agent signings, and coaching. They were second in the league in sacks and interceptions and scored seven defensive touchdowns. Paul Posluszny retired in the offseason and the team will turn to 2017 fifth-rounder Blair Brown to earn the spot to replace him in the middle of the defense. Aaron Colvin was signed away to Houston in free agency, but the team replaced him with free agent signing DJ Hayden. They added interior defensive line disruptor Taven Bryan (Florida) in the first round of the draft and athletic playmaking safety Ronnie Harrison (Alabama) in the third round to make the best defense in the league even deeper. The Jaguars should be the first defense off of the board in most drafts, and they might even deserve to go earlier than the first defense has gone in recent years.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Yannick Ngakoue, DE Calais Campbell, DT Malik Jackson, DT Marcell Dareus
Backups: DE Dante Fowler Jr., DE Duwuane Smoot, DT Abry Jones, DT Taven Bryan [R], DT Mike Bennett

Starting DL: Despite not having as much draft pedigree, Yannick Ngakoue overtook Dante Fowler Jr. for the left defensive end starting spot. He improved upon the 8 sacks he notched in his rookie year by obtaining 12 in his sophomore campaign. Calais Campbell's switch from Arizona's 3-4 defense to the Jaguars 4-3 scheme didn't hamper him at all-- in fact, he had a career high 14.5 sacks. Campbell appears to have suffered a calf injury in camp, but most believe it to be minor and not a threat to him missing time during the regular season. Malik Jackson also seemed reenergized by the abundance of surrounding talent. Jackson enjoyed a career high 8 sacks. Marcell Dareus was traded from the Bills late in 2017 and helped the Jaguars shore up their problems defending the run. They will hope that Dareus can continue to provide both interior pressure and run-stuffing ability.

Backup DL: While Dante Fowler dropped below Yannick Ngakoue in usage, he did manage to improve from the previous year, logging 8 sacks. The team did not exercise Fowler's fifth-year option and he is suspended for one game to start the season. The Jaguars will hope that despite much more limited usage, the other backup options on this defensive front will continue to develop into future starters. Duwuane Smoot didn't get much action in his rookie year, but he managed 11 solo tackles and four assists on the few snaps he did see. Abry Jones also was limited in his action, in part due to the talent ahead of him on the depth chart. Several injury issues throughout the year prevented him from taking steps forward. The Jaguars made their strengths even stronger when they took Taven Bryant with their first-round pick. Bryan is raw, but behind an excellent group from which to learn. With a defensively minded coaching staff, he can be groomed to become an excellent interior disruptor. Mike Bennett's sophomore campaign was almost as forgettable as his injury marred rookie year.


Starters: WLB Telvin Smith, MLB Myles Jack, SLB Blair Brown
Backups: WLB Donald Payne, MLB Lerentee McCray, SLB Brooks Ellis

Starting LBs: The Jaguars will be without Paul Posluszny for the first time in 7 years due to his retirement. This big change creates questions about which linebackers line up where in the base package. Head Coach Doug Marrone has indicated that Blair Brown's readiness to be a starter will determine where the rest of the unit is deployed. If Brown is ready, Jack is likely to move to the middle, his most natural fit. If Brown is not ready, the Jaguars will likely keep Jack on the strong side and put Brown or someone else on the outside. Jack's flexibility helped him to finish second on the team in tackles (90) on the strong side and two sacks last season. Telvin Smith is likely entrenched on the weak side, where he experienced great success last season after a move from the strong side.

Backup LBs: Jacksonville's backup linebackers are guys that can provide a special teams boost. Lerentee McCray was an unrestricted free agent this year, but re-signed with the Jaguars. He had a career year on special teams and the Jaguars undoubtedly wanted to keep this element of their contending team intact. For additional depth, the team added former Baltimore Raven Donald Payne just before week one of last season. He too stood out in special teams work. Brooks Ellis was an undrafted free agent that latched on with the New England Patriots, but was cut shortly after his first preseason contest. Jacksonville signed him to the practice squad last year when injuries struck backups Brown and Payne. They liked what they saw and promoted Ellis to a backup role, at least for the time being.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Jalen Ramsey, CB AJ Bouye, FS Tashaun Gipson, SS Barry Church
Backups: CB DJ Hayden, CB Jalen Myrick, FS Cody Davis, SS Ronnie Harrison [R], SS Don Carey

Starting DBs: The starting unit remains completely intact, ready to once again terrorize NFL offenses. The duo of Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye was suffocating. Both were in the top ten in terms of catches allowed and passer rating against. Tashaun Gipson had voiced frustration with the scheme in 2016, but was much happier with what he was asked to do the following year. He had a career high 53 tackles and made his first postseason appearance. Barry Church made headlines this offseason when he blasted the NFL's new rules on tackling. "You're going to have guys instead of hitting guys up top, in the shoulder pads, upper body, you're going to have guys going super low, hitting guys' knees, going for ankles just so they don't get fined," said Church. "[T]hat's going to cause more injuries. It's going to cause career-enders - not that concussions and all that stuff isn't career-ending - but, I mean, you're going after guys' legs eventually, and that's going to make the sport extremely dangerous."

Backup DBs: Aaron Colvin moved on to the Texans, but the Jaguars did not leave his position unaccounted for very long. They pounced on former Raiders and Lions nickel and slot corner DJ Hayden early in free agency. Hayden has been considered by many to be a bust due to being drafted in the first round and being limited in whom he can cover. However, the Jaguars see the value in having a talented role player, especially when offenses are increasingly putting their talent in the slot to create mismatches. Former seventh-round selection Jalen Myrick continues to develop and will be asked to pick up the slack if injuries happen ahead on the depth chart. The safety backup spots have seen a shakeup with the additions of Don Carey and Cody Davis. Carey was a long time cornerback and safety backup in Detroit, while Davis was something of a special teams breakout for the Rams last year after being with the team for four years. They'll both likely remain third string options behind newly drafted Ronnie Harrison. The third-round selection of the Jaguars is a hard hitter, but can sometimes be overzealous and miss his tackle. The Jaguars will work to bring Harrison's gifts under control so that he can eventually take over for the aging Church.

Last modified: 2018-08-26 21:08:04