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2021 Team Report: Jacksonville Jaguars

Last updated: Tue, Jun 15

Offensive Philosophy

In one of the more anticipated hirings, the Jacksonville Jaguars lured Urban Meyer away from college and broadcasting and into the NFL. Meyer's college teams ran a spread offense that relied on creating numbers advantages on certain parts of the field to overwhelm a defense. One of the key parts of his scheme was a hybrid running back / wide receiver who could be motioned around before the snap and used in unpredictable ways, a role first filled by Percy Harvin (who had 1852 rushing yards and 1929 receiving yards in his career at Florida) and later by Curtis Samuel (who had 1286 rushing yards and 1249 receiving yards at Ohio State). Both Harvin and Samuel were receivers at the pro level, but Meyer has committed to using running back Travis Etienne at the "Percy position", having him play exclusively at wide receiver in training camps to help round out his skills.

Quarterbacks

Starter: Trevor Lawrence
Backup(s): Gardner Minshew, C.J.Beathard, Jake Luton

Starting QB: Trevor Lawrence might be one of the most hyped quarterback prospects in NFL history and he can't get into the Jaguars lineup soon enough. The Jaguars also added Urban Meyer as they look to go all in this season and the future with the player and coach who both have had winning careers at the college level. Lawrence strengths are his ball placement ability which will be a huge upgrade for the Jaguars receivers, his arm strength and talent that allows him to make throws consistenlty at all three levels of the field, and his poise to keep eyes downfield and deliver the ball accurately in the face of pressure.

Backup QB: Gardner Minshew has had plenty of up and downs to start out his young career. As a rookie in 2019 he finished with 3,271 passing yards and 21 touchdowns and in 2020 those numbers fell to 2,259 and 16 touchdowns. He also has a total of 497 rushing yards and with NFL experience under his belt he makes for a capable backup quarterback for rookie Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars also have C.J. Beathard and Jake Luton on the depth chart who both have experience starting NFL games.

Running Backs

Starter: James Robinson, Travis Etienne [R]
Backup(s): Carlos Hyde, Dare Ogunbowale, Devine Ozigbo
Fullback(s):

Starting RB: James Robinson was a league winner type that seemed to come out of nowhere in his rookie season. The undrafted rookie played in 14 games and totaled 1,070 rushing yards, 344 receiving yards and a total of 10 touchdowns on the season. The offense will have a boost this year with Marvin Jones added to the wide receiver group and a major upgrade at the quarterback position with Trevor Lawrence as the best prospect in over a decade at the position. The Jaguars brought in capable veteran Carlos Hyde to add some much needed depth after Robinson on the depth chart. Robinson is the clear number one at the position and will look to build on his remarkable rookie numbers. The Jaguars mixed up the RB position with the 1st round selection of Travis Etienne. Etienne has played along side Trevor Lawrence at Clemson and now they continue their careers together at the next level. Clemson's Offensive Coordinator, Tony Elliott has some glowing praise for Etienne, "What makes Travis special is he really doesn't fully comprehend how good he is. It keeps him humble; it keeps him working. I'm amazed at some of the things he's able to do on a football field. I can see the potential he still has ahead of him. There's still more room before he reaches his ceiling."

Backup RBs: The Jaguars addressed the need to find some veteran depth at the running back position with the signing of Carlos Hyde. Hyde is 30 yards old and has played in 90 NFL games over seven seasons. He has rushed for nearly 5,000 total yards in that span and has 36 touchdowns. Dare Ogunbowale filled in nicely for Robinson last year in the two games that he missed. He had 28 rushing attempts and 121 rushing yards along with 7 receptions for 29 yards during the last two weeks of the season. He will start out the year behind both Robinson and Hyde on the teams depth chart. The Jaguars also have Devine Ozigbo who could still win a roster spot.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, Marvin Jones
Backups: Collin Johnson, Phillip Dorsett, Jalen Camp [R], Jamal Agnew, Terry Godwin

Starting WRs: DJ Chark remains at the top of the receiver core for the Jaguars as he enters year four in Jacksonville. After a somewhat down year in 2020 personally and as a team, Chark will look to rebound with a new quarterback and offensive game plan. In 13 games he still managed to post a 53/706/5 stat line while having the quarterback position up and down for those games. One of the bright spots for the Jaguars offense in 2020 was rookie Laviska Shenault who impressed with 58 receptions, 600 yards and five touchdowns along with 91 rushing yards. Shenault's offensive talents still look to be emerging as he is adapting to the NFL level and as the Jaguars offense expands. Marvin Jones enters his ninth NFL season and his third team. He is coming off of back to back seasons with nine touchdowns in each and adds another weapon for Trevor Lawrence right out of the gate. Although there might not be a star wide receiver in Jacksonville, the trio of Chark, Shenault and Jones is one of the more intriguing ones in the league and all three should be relevant in Trevor Lawrence's rookie season.

Backup WRs: Collin Johnson was one of the forgotten rookie receivers last year and on a team that struggled to move the ball he still managed to post a 18/272/2 line. Opportunities might be harder to come by in year two as the team signed Marvin Jones to go along with Chark and Shenault who will all be ahead of Johnson on the depth chart. Johnson looks to have the fourth receiver on the depth chart on the horizon but will still have to battle with Phillip Dorsett for targets behind the big three. Dorsett ended the 2019 season with a 29/397/5 statline but did not see the field after Week 2 of 2020.

Tight Ends

Starters: Chris Manhertz
Backups: James O'Shaughnessy, Luke Farrell [R], Tyler Davis, Ben Ellefson

The tight end position is one of the weak spots on the current Jaguars offense. Tyler Eifert didn't pan out for the team last year and they have moved on and brought in Chris Manhertz to compete with James O'Shaughnessy. Manhertz had a total of six receptions for 52 yards last season while O'Shaughnessy hauled in 28 catches for 262 yards.

Place Kicker

Josh Lambo, Aldrick Rosas: Lambo peaked in 2019, making 33-of-34 field goal attempts, but a gluteus muscle injury sidelined him two different times in 2020 and ruined his season. Aldrick Rosas was adequate at best in place of Lambo last year, but he has some experience and he was brought back, likely as insurance for Lambo's health in training camp. This offense isn't going to be ripe with kicker opportunity, so we don't need to monitor this situation too closely to inform our kicker drafting strategy.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Jamal Agnew, Chase Claybrooks

The Jaguars bring back their top returner from 2020 in Chase Claybrooks, but newly-signed Jamal Agnew has a longer history at the position and a bigger contract and should be the front-runner to earn return duties in 2021.

Punt Returners: Jamal Agnew, Chase Claybrooks

The Jaguars bring back their top returner from 2020 in Chase Claybrooks, but newly-signed Jamal Agnew has a longer history at the position and a bigger contract and should be the front-runner to earn return duties in 2021.

Offensive Line

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

Left guard Andrew Norwell is a favorite of new head coach Urban Meyer, who coached him at Ohio State a decade ago. The tackles are a mauling pair, as left tackle Cam Robinson was franchise tagged this offseason. Meanwhile, after a great rookie season, right tackle Jawaan Taylor had a rough second year. Center Brandon Linder is quietly one of the league's best, and Will Richardson provides swing depth. This group carries a good grade.

Team Defense

The Jaguars D/ST only had 18 sacks and 16 takeaways last year. They did add Shaq Griffin to firm up one of the cornerback spots and #33 pick Tyson Campbell could be a long-term starter, but there are still holes throughout the defense and we shouldn't expect the unit to take a big step forward this year under first-year coordinator Joe Cullen. Streamers may still consider taking the Jaguars only because they will open with the Houston Texans, but they would be a one week only rental.

Defensive Line

Starters: LDE/OLB Josh Allen, DL Roy Robertson-Harris, NT Malcolm Brown, DE Jihad Ward, DE/OLB K'Lavon Chaisson
Backups: DT Taven Bryan, DT Jay Tufele [R], RDE Duwuane Smoot, DL DaVon Hamilton, DL Adam Gotsis, DL Doug Costin

Starting DL: The Jaguars are unsettled due to a coaching staff overhaul and will need to figure out how to configure all the pieces along their front. The team has not revealed if they will remain in a 4-3 or switch to a 3-4 as their base defense. To further complicate matters, they also may not have been able to get the personnel they wanted to execute their new scheme. Jacksonville originally agreed to a deal with Tyson Alualu in free agency, but Alualu changed his mind and re-signed with the Steelers. They did manage to land fifth-year pro Roy Robertson-Harris in free agency and acquired Malcolm Brown in a trade. Who will start and who will be more rotational remains to be seen. Allen and Chaisson should be employed as primary edge rushers, and Brown can fill the nose tackle spot when they go with 3-4 looks. Robertson-Harris and Jihad Ward were acquired to give the team players who can play 3-4 end. Ward has spent the last two years with the Ravens. The former second-round pick is reunited with his line coach from Baltimore and provides much-needed depth that the unit lacked last year. K'Lavon Chaisson did not live up to the hype in year one and will need to take steps forward if he is to remain in favor with his new coaches.

Backup DL: Jay Tufele is a prospect who has a nasty swim move and a motor that keeps going until the whistle. Expect him to be starting sooner rather than later if Taven Bryan continues to underwhelm. Bryan could be in a fight for a roster spot with a new regime calling the shots. Smoot can provide quality edge snaps and Hamilton looked like a successful third round pick last year until he got hurt. He'll have to endear himself to the new staff to get snaps in the deep defensive line rotation.

Linebackers

Starters: WLB Myles Jack, MLB Joe Schobert
Backups: WLB Shaquille Quarterman, MLB Quincy Williams, MLB Damien Wilson, OLB Jordan Smith [R], SLB Joe Giles-Harris, SLB Nate Evans, WLB Dakota Allen, SLB Leon Jacobs

Starting LBs: Despite the coaching change, there has been no starter movement with this position group. Myles Jack has played all three linebacker positions with Jacksonville, but may have found his best one playing on the weak side. He logged 118 total tackles, with 72 of those being solo. Joe Schobert is one of the best in the business and he and Jack will be the strength of the defense at inside linebacker.

Backup LBs: The backup group is comprised mostly of options that were drafted by the previous regime, but the team did add the experienced Damien Wilson, formerly with the Chiefs. Wilson has had trouble staying healthy historically, but playing limited minutes could help with that issue. Quincy Williams has had flashes of being competent when on the field, but has also made sizable mistakes that have shown the previous coaching staff that he was not ready to be a starter. It will be interesting to see if the new coaching staff will be a help or a hindrance to his continued development.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB CJ Henderson, S Rayshawn Jenkins, S Andrew Wingard, CB Shaq Griffin, NCB Tre Herndon CB Tre Herndon, CB C.J. Henderson, CB Shaquill Griffin, FS Rayshawn Jenkins, SS Andrew Wingard
Backups: CB Tyson Campbell [R], CB Chris Claybrooks, CB Jameston Houston, CB Sidney Jones, FS Jarrod Wilson, FS Daniel Thomas, FS Andre Cisco [R], SS Josh Jones, SS Rudy Ford

Starting DBs: The team made improving cornerback a priority when it signed Seattle's Shaquill Griffin to a big contract. Griffin, the budding Henderson, and recently re-signed Tre Herndon should make for one of the more formidable corner groups. Reyshawn Jenkins is a nice upgrade to the group and is capable of playing either the strong safety or free safety spot as needed. Andrew Wingard is seen as undersized by some, but has been productive from a tackles standpoint.

Backup DBs: A positive for Jacksonville is that they have a great deal of experience among the backup group. The Eagles cut Sidney Jones and Jacksonville picked him up on waivers last year. He started six games for the Jaguars last season with two interceptions and nine passes defensed. The Jaguars also added to their strength by drafting Tyson Campbell. The lengthy corner will eventually be counted on to guard the perimeter. The team will hope they can continue to resurrect Jones' career on their squad. Daniel Thomas also had some success when filling in for injured starters last year. In two games, he recorded two passes defended and an interception. Unfortunately, he was also injured, so the Jaguars did not get an extended look at his capabilities. Andre Cisco could be a future starter at free safety. The center-fielder had 12 interceptions for Syracuse between 2018 and 2019, but an ACL tear ended his 2020 campaign. After initially testing free agency, Josh Jones signed with the team on a one-year deal. His 83 tackles and one interception led the secondary group last year.