The Bears indeed mauled the Jaguars by a final score of 41-17. The dominant performance from Chicago afforded Bears fans a sigh of relief. But it gave fans of the Big Cats something even sweeter: hope.
The Jaguars locked up the number one pick for the first time ever
When the NFL Draft commences in late April, the Jaguars will be the first to select. Jacksonville has never been bad enough to earn the top spot in the draft; that is until now. And it couldn't have come at a better time. The 2021 QB class is loaded with talent and headlined by Trevor Lawrence, a gunslinger widely viewed as a generational player. The Jaguars will have the opportunity to land a true franchise QB for the first time in the teams' 26 year history.
Marrone isn't tanking — he's just bad
Plenty of fans enjoy pretending that Doug Marrone is in on the Jaguars' tank job. The truth, however, is that he's a lousy head coach in an even worse situation. He's made countless poor decisions in 2020, whether it be trading Ronnie Harrison to create a spot in the starting lineup for Josh Jones or continuously starting Mike Glennon over Gardner Minshew, Marrone has had a rough go of it in 2020. I like Doug Marrone, the person, but he can't be the figurehead of a successful NFL franchise.
Replacing Josh Jones in the starting lineup is necessary
Speaking of Josh Jones, the veteran safety is a liability in coverage and needs to be replaced with haste. His replacement might already be on the roster. Rookie Daniel Thomas played well during his brief stint in the starting lineup, but an arm injury relegated him to the IR. Whether or not Thomas is the answer at strong safety remains unclear. While Josh Jones can undoubtedly lay the wood, he is not a starting quality player in the modern NFL.
Greg Mabin is TOUGH
After a rash of injuries at the cornerback position, the Jaguars signed cornerback Greg Mabin during Thanksgiving week. Mabin hasn't been great by any stretch, but he's come in and played tough football for the Jaguars despite his less than ideal situation. Mabin led the team in tackles yesterday with ten and landed a couple of big hits on Bears' ball carriers. His coverage skills are lacking, but at least the Jaguars know they've got one tough son of a gun on the outside in Greg Mabin.
Joe Schobert is the playmaker we thought he would be
The Jaguars' run defense gave up some chunk plays, but overall they didn't do too bad when it came to slowing down the Bear's rushing attack, allowing just 3.9 yards per carry. The man in the middle, Joe Schobert, was an asset against the run, picking up eight tackles, several of which ended in positive plays for the Jaguars' defense. But Schobert's best trait is his playmaking ability. He recorded four interceptions and two forced fumbles for the Browns in 2019, but early on in the 2020 season, Schobert didn't look like the game changer the Jaguars thought he would be. The Jaguars' middle linebacker has flipped the script over the last couple of months. Since week six, Schobert has picked off three passes, forced two fumbles, made four tackles for loss, registered six QB hits, and even scored a touchdown. He's earned the right to start for the Jaguars again in 2021.
Dare Ogunbowale showed promise
With James Robinson in the lineup, the rest of the Jaguars' running backs haven't been afforded much playing time. But Robinson missed week 16 with an ankle injury, and Dare Ogunbowale took advantage of the opportunity. Dare carried the ball 14 times for 71 yards for an excellent 5.1 yards per carry. He may have earned himself a spot in the rotation next season with his performance.
The next GM's first priority should be signing DJ Chark
The man has been running wide open for most of the season, but the Jaguars' QBs just haven't been able to get him the ball with any effectiveness. On Sunday, he only caught four passes, but as a viewer, you felt them. He made a diving catch on a low pass from Glennon early in the game and later hauled in an acrobatic grab in the endzone over the outstretched arms of a helpless Bears' cornerback. Chark is under contract through 2021, but the Jaguars' next GM should make signing the young wideout before the 2021 campaign a top priority.
How can you expect anything more from this defense?
I'm not making excuses for Todd Wash or anyone else on the coaching staff. But with Josh Allen, DaVon Hamilton, CJ Henderson, DJ Hayden, and Sidney Jones all out, I'm not sure how anyone could expect this Jaguars' defense to play much better than they have. They've been dealt a lousy hand in 2020, but with a little bit more luck on the injury front, a better defensive play-caller/scheme, some player development, and a couple more pieces, the Jaguars' defense should be average at worst in 2021.
The kid really has turned the corner. After a miserably slow start to his rookie season, KC45 has become the Jaguars' most impactful pass rusher over the past month. He added five QB pressures and a QB hit on 25 pass-rush snaps in this one. He's now registered 16 pressures in the last four games for the Jaguars' defense.
Trevor Lawrence's next game...
The odds on favorite to go number one to the Jaguars is Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence. He takes on Justin Fields and Ohio State on New Years Day at 8 pm. It'll be a battle between the consensus top two quarterbacks in the draft class. The two faced off in last year's CFB semi-final as well. Lawrence and the Tigers emerged victorious by a narrow margin. Regardless of who wins that contest, both QBs should put on a show in front of a national television audience.
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