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2020 Team Report: Jacksonville Jaguars

Last updated: Sat, Sep 5

Offensive Philosophy

Outside of one fluky season in 2017, the Jaguars have been desperately searching for quality quarterback play for more than a decade. Last year an opening-week injury to presumed starter Nick Foles seemed to doom them to another year in limbo, but backup Gardner Minshew played surprisingly well for a rookie (and shockingly well for a rookie drafted as late as the 6th round). Hidden behind Minshew's essentially league-average stats was the lengths the team went to to simplify his job. He was noticeably below league average in the distance his passes traveled through the air, and his leading receiver (by total receptions) was a running back who averaged just 6.9 yards per catch. Now that Minshew is not a rookie, one of the big questions is how comfortable the coaches will be with taking the restrictions off the offense and letting him stand in the pocket, make multiple reads, and sling the ball down the field.

Quarterbacks

Starter: Gardner Minshew Gardner Minshew
Backup(s): Mike Glennon, Joshua Dobbs, Jake Luton [R]

Starting QB: The last couple of seasons for the Jaguars has not gone to plan at all. Nick Foles was brought in last season to be the new face of the franchise and in his first game with the Jaguars he suffered an injury that held him out until Week 11. Filling in for Foles was 6th round rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew who quickly became a fan favorite and put up steady numbers in 14 games for the Jaguars. Now in 2020, Foles is out of the picture and the Jaguars are looking to go forward with Minshew as their starting quarterback after his 14 game rookie season which lead him to a 3,271 passing yard season with 21 touchdowns and 344 rushing yards. He looked confident filling in for Foles right from the start as he stepped in Week 1 mid-game against the Chiefs posting 275 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns right out of the gate. Now with a complete offseason under his belt and game experience with success, Minshew will be the leader of this Jaguars offense in 2020.

Backup QB: Behind Minshew the Jaguars were young and lacking experience in the quarterback position until they signed Mike Glennon. Glennon should be the backup and Joshua Dobbs and sixth-round pick Jake Luton will battle for the third quarterback spot behind him. Obviously the Jaguars offense would suffer greatly if Minshew misses time

Running Backs

Starter: Chris Thompson, Ryquell Armstead
Backup(s): Devine Ozigbo, James Robinson [R]
Fullback(s):

Starting RB: Ryquell Armstead was drafted in the 5th round by the Jaguars in 2019 and didn't see a big amount of touches as he played second fiddle to Fournette. Armstead finished out the year with 108 rushing yards on 35 carries and caught 14 passes for 144 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He will likely start after Leonard Fournette's release and Chris Thompson will get passing down work, enough so to be fantasy relevant in PPR leagues.

Backup RBs: The depth behind Armstead is Devine Ozigbo who has little game experience, but is a good all-around back with a rugged edge, and James Robinson, another strong UDFA runner who has had a good camp. The Jaguars will want to see all of the backs on their roster before the end of the season to see what they have before the 2021 draft.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: D.J. Chark, Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley
Backups: Keelan Cole, Laviska Shenault Jr [R], Collin Johnson [R], Michael Walker, C.J. Board

Starting WRs: D.J. Chark was one of the great stories from 2019 as he exploded for a 73/1008/8 statline in 15 games as the top receiver for the Jaguars. Chark was a second round pick in 2018 and showed little in his rookie season, so predicting his 2019 breakout was nearly impossible. Chark looks to have a solid connection with quarterback Minshew and the two will look to continue the connection in 2020. The Jaguars also have Chris Conley and Dede Westbrook to compliment Chark in the receiving game. Conley was a pleasant surprise with a 47/775/5 line and Westbrook didn't quite have the breakout that people were hoping for but still managed a 66/660/3 line. This trio is one of the most underrated in the league as Chark, Conley, and Westbrook split targets rather well and Minshew will look to have a lot of opportunities to get the ball down the field.

Backup WRs: Marqise Lee was suppose to be the guy in Jacksonville but injuries pushed him to the back of the pack and now released from the team. Keelan Cole is also in the mix as he enters year four with the Jaguars and is coming off a 24/361/3 statline through 12 games. The Jaguars have some decent depth at the wide receiver position with Chark, Westbrook, Conley, Shenault, and Cole.

Tight Ends

Starters: Tyler Eifert
Backups: James O'Shaughnessy, Josh Oliver (inj), Charles Jones, Tyler Davis [R]

Tyler Eifert just finished his seventh season in the NFL with the Bengals and it was the first time in his career that he played all 16 games. The Jaguars have been looking for a reliable tight end over the past few seasons and with the signing of Eifert they are hoping to have captured that. Eifert is coming off a 43/436/3 season on 63 total targets. Behind Eifert it will be James O'Shaughnessy who lead the Jaguars group of tight ends last with with a 14/153/2 statline. Josh Oliver was another name to keep in mind as he is coming off a 3 game rookie season that was filled with injuries, but he broke a bone in his foot in mid-August and will be out indefinitely after surgery.

Place Kicker

Josh Lambo, Jon Brown: Lambo had his best season as a pro in 2019, leading the league in field goal accuracy with 33 makes in 34 attempts. The Jaguars lack of touchdowns kept his scoring out of the top tier, with only 20 extra point attempts (he made 19), and he's a candidate for regression in field goal attempts, making him a risky fantasy pick despite his standout season. Lambo signed a four-year extension last offseason, so his spot on the team is more than safe. The team signed Jon Brown after the season, but he is probably only a camp leg to potentially become trade bait for a needy team.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Michael Walker, Keelan Cole

Dede Westbrook led the Jaguars in punt returns last year, while Michael Walker was the top kickoff returner. Both players remain under contract and have the inside track on the jobs again in 2020, but receiver Keelan Cole is also an experienced returner and could push for opportunities.

Punt Returners: Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole

Dede Westbrook led the Jaguars in punt returns last year, while Michael Walker was the top kickoff returner. Both players remain under contract and have the inside track on the jobs again in 2020, but receiver Keelan Cole is also an experienced returner and could push for opportunities.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Cam Robinson, LG Andrew Norwell, CBrandon Linder, RG A.J. Cann, RT Jawaan Taylor
Key Backups: OL Will Richardson, OT Ben Bartch [R], OL Tyler Shatley

Left guard Andrew Norwell is the ideal player for this gap power line. The tackles of Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor are road graders, although coaches want both to cut down on penalties. All five players return from last season, which is a perfect cohesion score. The team invested a fourth-round pick in developmental left tackle Ben Bartch from St John's Minn Div III. Fourth-round pick Ben Bartch came from a small school (Saint Johns) but will have a chance to start at right guard. Richardson will serve as the swing tackle.

Team Defense

It feels like the Jaguars being the elite fantasy defense was forever ago, but it was only 2017. The team still notched 47 sacks last year, tied for seventh in the league, with 19 takeaways and one defensive score. The defense suffered when Jalen Ramsey was traded, ending up at 25th in yards allowed and 21st in points allowed. This offseason AJ Bouye and Calais Campbell were both traded for third day picks, although the team did add CJ Henderson at #9 to replace Bouye and K'Lavon Chaisson at #20 to replace Yannick Ngakoue who is likely to be traded or hold out into the season. Joe Schobert should help the linebacker group improve, but this should still be one of the bottom third defenses and worst teams in the league, so the ADP hovering around 20th defense seems a bit rich in best ball leagues. It's doubtful that we would want to use the Jaguars defense at all in redraft leagues.

Defensive Line

Starters: LDE Josh Allen, NT Abry Jones, DT Taven Bryan, DE Duwuane Smoot
Backups: NT Timmy Jernigan DE K'Lavon Chaisson [R], DE Cassius Marsh, DT DaVon Hamilton [R]

Starting DL: The cupboard looks to be much more bare after the team traded Calais Campbell for a fourth-round pick and Yannick Ngakoue for a 2nd and conditional 5th. Josh Allen will step into a bigger role as the team's leading pass rusher. Abry Jones is not a flash option, but he has been an effective space eater in this scheme. Taven Bryan will have to step into the full-time role in his third year with Marcel Dareus' contract not being renewed. Bryan did not pan out when he tried to play defensive end in his rookie season, but appears to be suited to working on the interior of the line. Duwuane Smoot is on his fourth and final year of his rookie deal and may be in line for his career year. Smoot did have a career-high six sacks last year, and given the Jaguars' lack of depth, he should see his snap counts increase dramatically.

Backup DL: The team signed veteran Timmy Jernigan after the sudden retirement of Rodney Gunter. Jernigan had earlier intended to sign with the Texans, but the deal fell through. K'Lavon Chaisson was Jacksonville's second first-round pick of the Draft and presumably their answer for Yannick Ngakoue's potential exit from the team. Chaisson has length, bend, and burst, special traits that make him likely to be a game-changing pass rusher. Cassius Marsh is the best bet to win the other backup job among those currently on the roster. Marsh is now on his fourth team, but does possess game experience that few others on the squad have. The third-round rookie DaVon Hamilton could also be an option. He already has the tools to be a rotational interior lineman with the potential to develop into a starting interior pass rusher.

Linebackers

Starters: WLB Myles Jack, MLB Joe Schobert, SLB Leon Jacobs
Backups: WLB Quincy Williams, MLB Shaquille Quarterman [R], MLB Joe Giles-Harris

Starting LBs: The Jaguars lost Telvin Smith due to a dispute with the team brass and had a hole that they never seemed to be able to fill well at middle linebacker. They tried playing Myles Jack in that spot again, but that once again did not seem to be a good fit. He is likely to return to weakside duties going forward. He suffered a knee injury that ended his 2019 campaign, but reports are positive in terms of him being ready to play by the beginning of the 2020 season. The team went out and invested heavily in Joe Schoebert, formerly the middle linebacker in Cleveland. Schoebert will not lack tackle opportunities with this team's weakened defensive front four. When the team is in its base look, they will have the solid Leon Jacobs manning the strong side; but more often than not, they will play from nickel and deploy an extra pass rusher or defensive back.

Backup LBs: Najee Goode and Donald Payne were not retained, despite earning some starting time last year. Quincy Williams had ample chances to play as a rookie, but inexperience and injury kept him from taking off as his coaching staff had hoped. He will now back up Myles Jack and work on becoming more assignment sound. The rest of the group is also relatively inexperienced. Joe Giles-Harris has not played a single down upon entering the second year of his career. Rookie pick Shaquille Quarterman projects well as a two-down thumper, but is going to lack the agility to make open-field tackles and play in coverage.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB Tre Herndon, CB C.J. Henderson [R], FS Jarrod Wilson, SS Josh Jones
Backups: CB DJ Hayden, CB Parry Nickerson, CB Josiah Scott [R], FS Andrew Wingard, SS Daniel Thomas [R]

Starting DBs: Jalen Ramsey's trade last year left a large void that will not be filled by Tre Herndon, but he is arguably the best corner with NFL experience on this depleted roster. Formerly undrafted Tre Herndon has turned into a competent outside cornerback. He led the team in interceptions and pass deflections in his first year as a starter. The team drafted what they hope will be their answer to Ramsey with the ninth overall pick when they selected C.J. Henderson. Both big and fast, Henderson excels at shutting down opposing receivers and run-support tackling. Starting safety Jarrod Wilson did not do particularly well with his responsibilities in 2019 and will need to make improvements if he hopes to hold on to his starting job past this year. With the trade of Ronnie Harrison to the Browns, it is likely former Packer Josh Jones that will get the starting nod. Jones had success in Green Bay but minimal usage. He should see much more usage in Jacksonville where depth is dangerously thin currently.

Backup DBs: DJ Hayden's versatility and slot coverage ability covers a great many deficiencies in the group, but the Jaguars will need to find more help for him. The rest of the backup group is relatively untested. Parry Nickerson, Andrew Wingard, and Doug Middleton have five total NFL starts between them. Rookie Josiah Scott is going to be an interesting developmental project for the team. He was nicknamed "The Gnat" by teammates because of his tenacious, scrappy playing style. He does not have the prototypical build of an NFL corner, but his college performances suggest that his size may not prohibit him from becoming a good slot corner. Another rookie addition, Daniel Thomas seems to have some ability in coverage and the body type to play strong safety, but he will need to work on taking better angles to his tackle target. He will start out as a special teams contributor that Jacksonville will work to develop on the back end of the roster.