Jaguars 2017 Offensive Profile Under Doug Marrone
2017 Pass Attempts Rank: 21st
2017 Rush Attempts Rank: 1st
2017 Play Volume Rank: 1st
2017 Yards Per Play Rank: 12th
Unaccounted for Air Yards from 2017 (Rank): 1,015 (19th)
Unaccounted for Carries from 2017 (Rank): 117 (17th)
Projected Starting Lineup
QB: Blake Bortles
RB: Leonard Fournette
WR: Marqise Lee
WR: Donte Moncrief
WR: Dede Westbrook
TE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
LT: Cam Robinson
LG: Andrew Norwell
C: Brandon Linder
RG: A.J. Cann
RT: Jermey Parnell
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Passing Game Outlook
After a 10-6 record and AFC title game berth, it’s easy to forget the Jags seriously considered benching Blake Bortles for Chad Henne last preseason. Multiple beat writers even believed Bortles could get cut. Bortles weathered the storm in a run-committed offense, attempting a career-low 32.7 passes per game but setting career bests in completion rate (60.2%) and QBR (55.5). OC Nathaniel Hackett restricted him to a 28.0-attempt average in the first seven games but let Bortles rip it 36.3 times per game the rest of the way as offensive centerpiece Leonard Fournette battled recurring ankle injuries. Bortles was a league-winning streamer in the fantasy playoffs with overall QB1 results in Weeks 12-16. Hackett embraced using Bortles more as a runner, even giving him ten rushing attempts in Jacksonville’s playoff win over Buffalo. Despite their run-first foundation, the Jaguars played fast and led the NFL in offensive plays from scrimmage. Bortles’ passing game isn’t pretty, but he’s finished as a top-13 fantasy quarterback in three straight seasons and has enhanced 2018 job security after signing a “three-year, $54 million” extension in February. The Jaguars passed on Lamar Jackson in the draft and will back up Bortles with Browns castoff Cody Kessler. Bortles is a highly underrated QB2 in best-ball and two-quarterback leagues.
The Jaguars chose Marqise Lee over Allen Robinson in free agency, letting Robinson walk to Chicago and retaining Lee at $38 million over four years. Lee is the NFL’s No. 21 highest-paid wide receiver. 26-year-old Lee has lacked high week-to-week ceilings with low touchdown rates, but he’s topped 700 yards in back-to-back years, earning 6.7 targets per game. Lee’s Game Speed showed up as roughly average in those seasons, per Josh Hermsmeyer’s Next Gen Stats charts. Even as his team’s projected target leader, Lee is more of a floor play than breakout candidate. Lee is a WR5/6 roster builder in best-ball leagues.
Donte Moncrief landed a surprisingly lucrative one-year, $9.6 million contract from the Jaguars after an underachieving four-year stint in Indianapolis. Moncrief was a plus-sized (6’2/221) prospect with 4.4-flat speed coming out of Ole Miss, but he’s battled recurring shoulder and hamstring injuries, and his Game Speed has been all over the map. Moncrief never quite meshed with his quarterbacks in Indy, and he seems unlikely to catch on quickly with erratic Bortles. Nevertheless, beat writers believe Moncrief is at least penciled in as the Jaguars’ No. 2 receiver. Moncrief did flash red-zone chops as a Colt. Likely to be touchdown dependent with still-uncertain playing time, Moncrief is an uninspiring late-round pick.
Moncrief’s playing time is “still uncertain” because the Jaguars have so many viable alternatives. Up first is 2016 Heisman Trophy finalist Dede Westbrook, who destroyed the 2017 preseason and topped 70 yards in three of Jacksonville’s final five regular season games. Westbrook logged a 69% snap rate in three playoff affairs. Undrafted Keelan Cole was a lesser college prospect but flashed down the stretch last season and played 42% of Jacksonville’s postseason snaps. No. 61 overall pick D.J. Chark is an old-Chris Henry-like vertical threat with 4.34 jets at 6-foot-3, 199. Also in the hunt for sub-package playing time is No. 2 tight end Niles Paul, who signed for two years and $4.75 million. Last year’s Jaguars used “12” two-tight end packages at the third highest rate in the league.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins arrived on a two-year, $10 million deal after breaking out for three TDs in the Jets’ first five games, getting three scores overturned on ticky-tack calls or replays, and failing to score the rest of the way. A near-every-down tight end, ASJ held his own as a blocker and flashed red-zone chops. Seferian-Jenkins’ Game Speed was below average, however, and he managed an anemic 7.14 yards per catch. Still, ASJ’s sheer size (6’6/262) gives him enough touchdown upside for last-gasp TE2 discussion.
Running Game Outlook
Leonard Fournette battled chronic ankle problems as a 2016 junior at LSU. They recurred in an August 13 practice last year, costing him the rest of preseason. Fournette destroyed the league for 122.0 total yards per game and seven TDs in the first six weeks, only to aggravate the ankle in Week 6 against the Rams. Fournette missed nearly a month, then dipped to 3.22 YPC in Jacksonville’s final seven games, then 3.46 YPC in the playoffs. On the season, Fournette ranked 26th of 47 backs in Football Outsiders’ rushing Success Rate. Nevertheless, Fournette handled 381 touches in a 16-game season (including playoffs) and totaled 1,628 yards from scrimmage with 14 TDs. On a run-committed team with an elite defense, sneaky dual-threat quarterback, and offensive line upgraded by LG Andrew Norwell and again facing a soft schedule, Fournette’s volume and touchdown upsides are immense. Fournette also dropped his weight to 223 before training camp, down 17 pounds from last year's Combine weigh-in (6'1/240). Fournette’s chronic ankle problems are a concern, but I’m willing to take him at the first-/second-round turn.
T.J. Yeldon will battle Corey Grant for change-up duties on a run-heavy team whose feature back is chronically injured. Yeldon played 22.3 snaps per game from Week 7 on last season, although he averaged just 7.8 touches as a low-volume role player. Yeldon did exhibit above-par Game Speed and has passing-game value. The Jaguars tendered Grant at the second-round level in restricted free agency, suggesting they are interested in involving him more after Grant averaged 6.53 yards per touch in his first three seasons but mainly returned kicks. In last year’s AFC title game against the Patriots, Grant turned three Run-Pass-Option (RPO) catches into 59 yards, then wasn’t heard from again. Yeldon’s floor is safer, but Grant is the highest-ceiling “handcuff” for ankle-hobbled Fournette.
2018 Vegas Win Total
The Jaguars’ Win Total opened at 9.0 with -130 odds to the over. Even as they ascended to a 10-6 team and lost by four points to New England in the AFC Championship, Jacksonville left meat on the bone with an unfortunate 2-3 record in one-score games. The Jaguars’ defense carried them for most of last season, but the offense showed more second-half scoring ability than most recall by averaging 27.9 points over its final eight games, including playoffs. (Only four teams averaged more points per game than that last year.) Another vote in Jacksonville’s favor is the NFL’s fourth-easiest schedule in Warren Sharp’s ratings. The Jaguars are in year two of their offensive and defensive systems after last year’s coaching overhaul, and return 19-of-22 starters. Even at worse odds, I like the over on 9.0.