The news we've all been anxiously waiting for is now official. The Jaguars are running it back in 2020 with the combo of Dave Caldwell at GM and Doug Marrone as head coach. Regardless of where you stand on this hot button issue, one thing is clear: The Jaguars aren't going to attempt a full rebuild at this time. If they were, Caldwell and Marrone would both be looking for gainful employment elsewhere.
"While our discussions will remain confidential, the decision I am making to keep our staff intact for 2020 has nothing to do with our victory on Sunday and everything to do with my positive meetings with Dave, Doug, the coordinators, and our players, as well as my belief that this is not the time to consider an overhaul of our organization.
The 2019 season was unacceptable, and I've made my dissatisfaction clear. While many unusual circumstances influenced our season, none can fully explain or defend our second-half collapse with first place in the division within reach on Week 9. At the same time, there were positive developments and contributions that should not be overlooked."
Not the words of a man ready to throw in the towel, Shad Khan seems to believe this team is still close to being a winner. That means the Jags will be going all-in on trying to make the playoffs in 2020. To do so, they'll need to get some things fixed in a hurry.
Here are five steps the Jaguars need to take to get back on the right track heading into next season.
Retain Yannick Ngakoue
This should be the primary focus for the Jaguars' front office right now. And according to Dave Caldwell, it is.
"How he (Yannick Ngakoue) handled his business this year was tremendous," said Caldwell. But I would say that's priority number one, to make sure that he comes back to Jacksonville and he's a Jacksonville Jaguar. So hopefully, we can get that done where he's here for a long period of time."
Had Ngakoue not been battling through injuries to start the 2019 season, he likely would've put up double-digit sacks yet again. He's a Pro-Bowl caliber pass rusher, and when you combine his skills with that of Josh Allen and Calais Campbell, you've got a chance to wreak havoc every week. Not only is Ngakoue immensely talented, but his work ethic and leadership qualities make him a perfect guy to build your franchise around.
Should the Jaguars not be able to come to a long-term agreement with Yan, they have until 4 pm on March 10th to place the franchise tag on him.
Fix Myles Jack
This may be easier said than done. But Myles Jack is an elite talent. The problem is, he hasn't adapted well to playing middle linebacker. The last two seasons have been disappointing for Jack, and a move outside could help him live up to his level of talent and his hefty contract. If the Jags are unwilling to move Jack outside, then his poor play will likely continue. Jack needs to be allowed to read and react, using his athletic ability and knack for making plays on the ball to reach his full potential. Bogging him down with being the QB of the defense is not the way. Let him play his most natural position — weakside linebacker — and watch him have his best season yet.
Draft at least two offensive linemen
The Jaguars have invested heavily in their offensive line. But it ain't working. Brandon Linder is still a top ten center in this league, and Jawaan Taylor is a promising young right tackle. I believe Cam Robinson will improve in what is really his third year. With a full offseason to hone his technique, instead of rehabbing from injury, Robinson should be able to play at a much higher level.
But when you take a look at both guard spots, that's where the Jaguars need the most help. AJ Cann was easily the most glaring weak spot for the Jaguars' offensive line in 2019. The team must replace him. And while Andrew Norwell isn't a complete dumpster fire, he's clearly not living up to his pricey contract. The Jaguars would save $5.5 million by parting ways with Norwell this offseason, but with $9 million in dead cap, it may be worth it to stick with Norwell for one more year.
Still, drafting more offensive lineman will give the Jaguars depth where they haven't had it. And would potentially offer competition at guard and tackle should the incumbent starters struggle yet again.
Draft a run-stuffing defensive tackle
The biggest weakness for the Jaguars in 2019 was inarguably their run defense. The Big Cats surrendered over five yards per carry on the ground and allowed an average of 139 rushing yards per game. Those numbers got even worse after Marcell Dareus went down with an injury. It's presumed that Dareus won't be back in 2020. The reason being his cap hit in 2020 would be $22.5 million. Unless they can figure out a way to restructure Dareus' deal, they'll have to find his replacement this offseason. Fortunately, there are a number of impressive defensive tackles that project to be excellent run-stoppers at the next level. The Jaguars need to add one of them on the first or second day of the draft.
Draft a starting receiver on day one
Some may not view the Jaguars' wide receivers as an area of weakness. They certainly have depth at the position; DJ Chark, Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook, and Keelan Cole all deserve to be on NFL rosters. But the only player among them that deserves to be a starter is DJ Chark. Dede can be a fine slot receiver. But the Jaguars need another starting outside receiver. Defenses haven't respected the Jaguars' passing attack in decades, and that needs to change. Adding a player like Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb with the first pick would instantly change the dynamic of the Jaguars' offense. Alternatively, adding a player like Henry Ruggs or Tee Higgins with their second first-round pick could also help the Jaguars become more explosive in a hurry.
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