The Jaguars' offense has the most potential in 2019 that it's had in over a decade. Dave Caldwell has used valuable draft capital and a considerable amount of cash on the offensive side of the ball in recent years.
It's now time for it all to come together. The Jaguars' offense needs to be efficient and explosive in 2019 for the current regime to stay intact moving forward.
Here are five things that need to happen for the Jaguars to reach their full potential on the offensive side of the ball.
1. Nick Foles needs to stay healthy.
This one seems obvious, but it needs to happen. Nick Foles hasn't played a full 16 games in his career. That's not entirely his fault — he hasn't always been asked to — but he needs to go the distance for the Jags this year. Their 2019 offensive success relies upon his arm and his head. Behind Foles on the depth chart are three players that have never played a down in the NFL. Gardner Minshew, a rookie sixth-round pick, seems to be the leader in the clubhouse to land the backup job. If the Jaguars have to rely on Minshew to get the job done, things could go downhill quick. Nothing against Minshew, but QBs of his stature and arm strength don't usually succeed when forced into a starting role as a rookie.
2. And so does the offensive line, to an extent.
Offensive line injuries may have been the catalyst for the Jaguars' implosion in 2018. The front office has done their best to ensure they won't suffer the same fate in 2019. There's more depth this year. 2018 fourth-round pick Will Richardson seems locked in as a backup offensive guard. Either Jawaan Taylor, the Jaguars' 2019 second-round pick, or Cedric Ogbuehi, a former first-round pick signed by the Jaguars this spring, figure to start at right tackle. Whichever one doesn't win the starting job will provide solid depth. It seems highly unlikely that Jacksonville will be devastated by O-line injuries to the same extent they were in 2019. And they'll need to be as close to full strength as possible keep Nick Foles healthy and upright.
3. A reliable deep threat needs to emerge.
The Jaguars haven't been able to find consistently reliable downfield threats since the days of Jimmy Smith. But they need one (or more) of their speedy wideouts to rise to the challenge in 2019. DJ Chark, Chris Conley, and Keelan Cole all have explosive ability. At least one of those players needs to step up and have a breakout 2019 campaign. Nick Foles throws a beautiful deep ball and needs someone to be able to haul it in. If the Jaguars can establish a presence with their aerial attack in the deep third of the field, it will make running the ball that much easier for Leonard Fournette and company.
4. And so does a red zone target.
Scoring points in the red zone has never been one of the Jaguars' fortes, and that needs to change for the Jaguars to get over the hump on the offensive side of the ball in 2019. There are several worthy candidates to become red zone threats. DJ Chark and Chris Conley both have excellent length and leaping ability but may lack the physicality to consistently win inside the 20. Terrelle Pryor, if he makes the 53 man roster, will be a strong candidate to fill the role for the Jags. He's a physical specimen, and at nearly 230 pounds, Pryor should be able to play bully ball in the red zone. Tight ends Josh Oliver and Geoff Swaim should also be able to contribute here. But Oliver's still working to develop his understanding of alignments, while Swaim has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career. Being able to score inside the 20-yard line is paramount in this league, and for the Jaguars to compete with the best, they'll need to be able to do just that.
5. The Jaguars must find balance and cohesion.
The Jaguars need to pose a threat on the ground and through the air with consistency. The running game, led by Leonard Fournette, needs to have a bounce-back year. Nick Foles needs to find success with his arm early and often for the Jags in 2019. If the Jaguars fail to run the ball effectively, John DeFilippo will struggle to call a balanced game, just as he did in 2018 with the Vikings. If the passing game struggles, Fournette and the rest of the backs may not be able to overcome loaded boxes week in and week out. The Jaguars must find balance.
What do you think the key is for the Jaguars' offense in 2019? Let us know in the comments below.
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