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Offseason Team Previews

2021 Jaguars Offseason Preview

by Hayden Winks
Updated On: February 11, 2021, 10:24 am ET

My goal with the Offseason Preview series is to get caught up with each team’s 53-man roster, offensive and defensive schemes, team needs, and offseason capital within a 10-minute read. The basics will be at the top -- cap space, draft picks, cut candidates, notable departures -- and the film and analytics takes will be at the bottom. I hope to write these in a way that they’re referenceable throughout not just free agency and the NFL Draft, but also the 2021 season as we look into weekly matchups. The offseason is the time for me to get outside of our fantasy football bubble and learn more about what’s going on at the other positions. You can read the rest of my 2021 Offseason Previews here and can follow me on Twitter (@HaydenWinks).

 


Jaguars 2020 Recap

2020 Jaguars

 

The Jaguars went 1-15 while holding a lead on just 8% of their offensive plays (32nd). Coach Doug Marrone opted to bench his best quarterback in Gardner Minshew, paving the way for the 30th-ranked scoring offense. Offensively, the lone positive was the emergence of undrafted rookie James Robinson, who not only finished as the RB7 in fantasy points per game but did it on the seventh-best efficiency per my PPR Points Over Expected model. On defense, Jacksonville finished 31st in scoring, 31st in passing EPA defense, and 30th in adjusted sack rate. Injuries in the secondary are partially to blame, but the general manager has his work cut out when it comes to adding talent at all three levels. Overall, the goal was to lose as many games as possible in 2020. They accomplished that without a hiccup, and the future is better for it.

 


Jaguars 2021 Offseason

  Notes
Jaguars Cap Space: $73.3 million (1st)
Jaguars Draft Picks: 1.01, 1.25, 2.33, 2.45, 3.65, 4th, 4th, 5th, 5th, 7th, 7th, plus compensatory picks
Jaguars Departures: LT Cam Robinson, EDGE Dawuane Smoot, WR Chris Conley, WR Keelan Cole, QB Mike Glennon, TE James O'Shaughnessy, RB Chris Thompson, CB D.J. Hayden, CB Sidney Jones
Jaguars Cut Candidates: Tyler Eifert ($5.1M cap savings)

 


Jaguars Depth Chart

Position

Base Offense

Notable Backups

Personnel

11

-

% of Passes

82%

-

QB

Gardner Minshew

Jake Luton

WR

D.J. Chark

Collin Johnson

WR

Laviska Shenault

 

WR (Slot)

???

 

TE

Tyler Eifert

Josh Oliver

RB (Early Down)

James Robinson

Devine Ozigbo

RB (Third Down)

James Robinson

???

LT

???

Will Richardson

LG

Andrew Norwell

Ben Bartch

C

Brandon Linder

 

RG

A.J. Cann

 

RT

Jawaan Taylor

 

 

Offensive Coordinator: The Jaguars Offense lacked talent and creativity last season. They were 31st in play-action rate (17.9%) and didn’t get the ball into D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault’s hands enough overall. Coach Urban Meyer will answer both of those complaints. He turned Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, and Ohio State into top-five scoring offenses, and he did so by tailoring his scheme to his personnel, not the other way around. The Jaguars are likely to use spread concepts, RPOs (he basically invented them at Utah), and all of the modern stuff taking the league by storm. There are certainly criticisms of Meyer off the field, but when analyzing what he’s bringing schematically, it’s hard not to be excited.

Passing Offense: Two years of Gardner Minshew has proved he’s on the Ryan Fitzpatrick spectrum as an intriguing backup or bridge quarterback. Trevor Lawrence should be a massive upgrade to the passing offense, particularly for D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault. Those two building blocks should find more consistency alongside Lawrence and Meyer, but the rest of the receiver depth chart needs work with Keelan Cole and Chris Conley set for free agency. The Jaguars also need to find a new tight end following Tyler Eifert’s career-low 5.8 YPT. He’s a cut candidate. Overall, Lawrence will improve Jacksonville’s No. 26 passing EPA ranking in 2021, but there are more pieces that need to be added at receiver and tight end before the Jaguars are competitors.

Rushing Offense: Pending LT Cam Robinson, the entire offensive line could return in 2021. Continuity matters, even when the unit ranked 18th in rushing EPA the year prior. With the offensive line back and quarterback upgraded, James Robinson should have an easier time running between the tackles following his RB7 per-game fantasy season. Assuming the new staff gives him another year as the starter, Robinson is a candidate for back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons because it’s highly unlikely that the Jaguars finish last in rush attempts and last in percentage of snaps leading. Still, the Jaguars need to find one more serviceable running back. Robinson’s 90-percent snap share from 2020 isn’t sustainable long term, and Chris Thompson is headed for free agency. A Day 3 pick or cheap veteran should do the trick.

 

Position

Base Defense

Notable Backups

Coverage

Cover 1 Man

-

% of Plays

49%

-

CB

C.J. Henderson

Chris Claybrooks

CB

???

 

CB (Slot)

???

 

SS

Andrew Wingard

 

FS

Jarrod Wilson

 

LB

Myles Jack

 

LB

Joe Schobert

 

DT (1T)

DaVon Hamilton

 

DT (3T)

Doug Costin

Taven Bryan

Edge

Josh Allen

 

Edge

K’Lavon Chaisson

 

 

Defensive Coordinator: New DC Joe Cullen is a long-time defensive line coach, most recently with the Ravens from 2016-2020. In Baltimore, the Ravens were among the most aggressive defenses annually. They mostly played single-high coverage -- they were 4th in Cover 1 man (44%) and 19th in Cover 3 zone (19%) -- and finished second in blitz rate (40%). An approach that aggressive absolutely requires high-end corners. In this coverage breakdown video, Urban Meyer mentioned that to play Cover 1 defense (and to a lesser extent Cover 3) a coordinator needs stars at corner. Good thing the Jaguars just spent a first on CB C.J. Henderson and have an absurd amount of cap space. I’m expecting this unit to take some chances on defense with the blitz, while prioritizing cornerback play in the draft and free agency.

Passing Defense: Opposing offenses had the seventh-highest neutral pass rate against the Jaguars last season, meaning teams were choosing to pass against them. Not a great sign. C.J. Henderson flashed early in his rookie season and has the traits to be a shadow corner. The rest of the cornerback depth chart needs work with three contributors headed for free agency. Neither safety -- Jarrod Wilson or Andrew Wingard -- are difference makers, so the defensive back group essentially has one centerpiece and little else. That’s why the Jaguars Defense allowed the second-most points and ranked 31st in passing EPA per dropback. Up front, Josh Allen (2.0 sacks) and K’Lavon Chaisson (1.0 sacks) disappointed off the edge in 2020, but their athleticism, youth, and high draft capital make the edge rusher position a wait-and-see spot. Allen was really good as a rookie (12.0 sacks) in 2019, too. 

Rushing Defense: The Jaguars’ defensive strength, if any, is at linebacker with Myles Jack and Joe Schobert locking up starting spots, but even Schobert was a liability at times. He’s just not going anywhere on his current contract (5 for $54M signed in 2020). Jacksonville’s interior defensive line is interesting as both of their 2020 starters -- DaVon Hamilton (1T) and Doug Costin (3T) -- were rookies. They showed just enough to make other positions bigger priorities, especially with former first-rounder Taven Bryan in the rotation, but it’s still more of a weakness than strength. Overall, only Jack seems like a plus starter against the run, which explains why the Jaguars were 23rd in rushing EPA defense last season.

 

Jaguars Defense

 


Jaguars Team Needs

1. Quarterback - The Jaguars didn’t take quarterback very seriously heading into 2020 with their eyes on Trevor Lawrence. Considered a prospect on Andrew Luck levels, Lawrence could transform the franchise immediately, especially with the Jaguars’ cap space and draft capital.

2. Offensive Tackle - Former No. 34 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Cam Robinson is set to hit free agency if the Jaguars don’t slap the franchise tag on him. I’m not convinced Robinson is worth a lucrative long-term deal -- his iffy lateral mobility caps his ceiling in pass protection -- but 25-year-old left tackles with his pre-draft pedigree don’t hit the market often. The Jaguars could bring him back on the tag, sign a top-level free agent with their league-leading cap space, or draft his replacement within the first two rounds. Bringing in Lawrence should make this position an absolute priority. The Jaguars retaining their GM and OL coach this offseason increases the odds of Robinson remaining on the roster.

3. Corner(s) - 2020 first-rounder C.J. Henderson is the No. 1 outside corner of the future, but the Jaguars allowed second-most points last season while primarily running man coverage, something new DC Joe Cullen used often in Baltimore. With D.J. Hayden, Sidney Jones, and Tre Herndon headed for free agency, the Jaguars need both a slot corner and a No. 2 outside corner. This will absolutely be a priority.

4. Strong Safety - 2019 UDFA Andrew Wingard simply isn’t good enough and backup Josh Jones is headed for free agency. Part of the reason why Jacksonville ranked 23rd in run EPA defense was because of Wingard’s sub-par run defense. Free safety Jarrod Wilson is an average player, too.

5. Tight End - Tyler Eifert is a cut candidate as a 31-year-old on a rebuilding team, James O’Shaughnessy is a free agent, and Josh Oliver (foot) has played four games since being drafted as a third-rounder in 2019. The Jaguars should pair Oliver with a blocking tight end ahead of 2021.

6. Slot Receiver - Keelan Cole has manned the position on-and-off for four seasons since being an undrafted free agent. He’s yet to break 750 yards in a year. Cole is set for free agency and should be a backup even if re-signed. The Jaguars are set with youngsters Laviska Shenault and D.J. Chark on the perimeter.

 


2021 Fantasy Football Rankings

Consider these my way-too-early 2021 fantasy football ranking ranges ahead of free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft, and here’s where each player ranked in PPR points, expected PPR points, and PPR points over expected last year.

James Robinson (RB1/2) - The RB7 per game last year, Robinson earned another season as the lead back even with a new coaching staff. It’s unlikely his 90% snap share holds up again in 2021, but more positive game scripts should stabilize or even improve his rushing numbers. The Jaguars led on only 8% of their offensive snaps last year for crying out loud. A strong and balanced runner with decent vision, Robinson looked like a midrange NFL starter with forgettable top speed on tape. The iffy speed didn’t hold him back last year, however. He finished seventh in PPR points over expected.

D.J. Chark (WR3) - His inconsistency from 2020 can be explained by his early-season injury, poor quarterback play, and his assignment. 28% of Chark’s targets traveled at least 20 yards downfield, and he only caught 33% of those passes, largely because they were uncatchable targets. Trevor Lawrence should bump his catchable target rate up from 63% immediately, plus give Chark more red zone opportunities. The Jaguars could bring in some competition with their league-leading cap space, but Chark will at least be the team’s go-to target downfield. He was the WR42 on WR31 fantasy usage last season.

Laviska Shenault (WR4) - The Urban Meyer hiring couldn’t be a better fit for Shenault, who operated as a low-aDOT (5.9) gadget receiver both in college and as a rookie. Meyer turned Parris Campbell, Curtis Samuel, and Percy Harvin into stars in similar roles. Shenault is far more physical than these three receivers, giving him a better chance of developing into a true No. 1 receiver in the NFL. The 2020 second-rounder will be labeled as a breakout candidate all offseason.

Trevor Lawrence (QB2) - Gardner Minshew flirted with top-15 fantasy QB per-game numbers in each of his two stints as the starter, mostly because the defense forced Jacksonville into a lot of pass attempts. That is unlikely to change in 2021 based on the current starting roster, and Lawrence has more athleticism than Minshew to unlock the Konami Code, especially under Urban Meyer. In 17 collegiate seasons, Meyer had 14 quarterbacks hit 100+ carries because he loves to “equate numbers” in the run game by using his quarterback to read edge defenders. With Tier 1 and Tier 2 quarterbacks likely going earlier in fantasy drafts this season, it’s possible that Lawrence is the top “late round quarterback” this summer. He has mid-range QB1 upside.