2019 Jacksonville Jaguars Preview
Russell S. Baxter
2019 Jacksonville Jaguars Preview
By Rick Briggs
Special to Pro Football Guru
The Jacksonville Jaguars went from a play or two away from the Super Bowl in 2017 to a dismal 5-11 campaign that quelled the excitement from the previous year. Head coach Doug Marrone is heading into his third full season with the team, and it has been a bit of a rollercoaster. In ‘17, the Jags beat people up with a brutal defense and a punishing run game. A season ago, the offense could not get going (ranked 27th in the league), mainly because running back Leonard Fournette was injured and the passing game was dismal. However, there’s a new quarterback in town and the Jaguars are primed for an improved showing.
Offense: The Jaguars have something only 25 percent of all NFL teams have: A Super Bowl winning quarterback. A four-year deal told Jacksonville fans that Nick Foles is the man for now. He’s had some ups and downs but he has proven to be cool under pressure and had success in Philadelphia. Leonard Fournette is healthy for now and that’s crucial. Though mustering only a 3.7 yards per carry average in 21 regular-season games, Fournette is a bruising runner. Jacksonville has four of their starting offensive linemen back (though LT Cam Robinson may not be ready by Week 1), and they drafted tackle Jawaan Taylor, who should compete with Cedric Ogbuehi and recently-signed Ben Ilajana. Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, D.J. Chark and Marqise Lee give Foles adequate talent at wide receiver. Newcomer Geoff Swaim is a good pass blocking tight end that can catch.
Defense: Despite the 5-11 record, the Jags’ defense ranked fifth overall in the league this past season. Even so, Jacksonville went out and drafted DE Josh Allen with the seventh overall pick. He was considered by some as the best player in this year’s draft, should contribute immediately. They also drafted safety Quincy Williams. The Jaguars are very stingy against the pass thanks to players like cornerback Jalen Ramsey. He is a lock down corner with two straight Pro Bowl selections. Defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue are solid performers who get after quarterbacks, and interior presence Marcell Dareus looks to rebound in 2019. The Jags want to improve their rushing defense which surrendered 116.9 yards per game in 2018.
Special Teams: Jacksonville signed a four-year deal with kicker Josh Lambo this offseason, locking down one of the better legs in the NFL. He provides the dependability as long as the offense can provide him with the opportunities. Punter Logan Cooke put 43 percent his punts last year inside-the-20 yard line. The return duties will fall to Westbrook and Chark. The Jaguars will look for a little more spark here, although Westbrook averaged 14.0 yards per punt return and took back one kick for a score.
Prediction: The Jaguars’ offense should make upward strides. The keys to success depends on Fournette’s ability to play all 16 games Foles’ success in leading this offense. Westbrook is a breakout candidate and Chark is raising eyebrows. Defensively, the Jaguars are still very good and still one of the best in the NFL. They may have looked better than they were in 2017, but they didn’t perform as well this past season. Jacksonville will compete in a tight AFC South and will bounce back from a losing year but fall short of the playoffs.
Win-Loss Record: 9-7 (2nd Place, AFC South, miss playoffs)