The Jaguars are coming off of a season in which they came within minutes of the Super Bowl. After the franchises first AFC Championship appearance since 1999 the roster saw much less turnover this offseason that it has in recent years. Still, there are a number of interesting questions and storylines heading into the 2018 season.
The gang gets back together this week with the start of organized team activities. The team will have 10 OTA's from now through June 8th. Following OTA's the Jaguars will have a three practice mandatory mini camp. A coach and or player will speak to the media after every practice session.
For a roster that might be the most talented in all of football where do the storylines come?
Let's get to it.
1. Will Blake Bortles own the offense?
Blake Bortles has dealt with having to learn a new offensive scheme nearly every season of his NFL career. This season, however, will be his second full season in Nathaniel Hackett's offense. If Bortles can master the offense in terms of knowledge and anticipation then the Jaguars offense could become far more consistent than it was in 2017. Despite being a top six overall offense last season, Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense was ineffective far too often throughout games. If Bortles shows signs of owning the offense throughout OTA's, minicamp, and training camp it'll be a great indication that the Jaguars offense is on the rise.
2. Will Blair Brown take charge at strong side linebacker?
Blair Brown was drafted in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. A small linebacker from Ohio, Brown looked to have the speed, athleticism, and toughness to make it at the next level. Due to injury Brown was forced into the lineup for a period of time in 2017 and he played well. Now, with Paul Posluszny out of the picture Brown figures to be the starter at strong side linebacker while Myles Jack moves inside full time. Brown's athleticism could give the Jaguars linebacker group more versatility in 2018.
3. How big of a drop off will it be from Aaron Colvin to DJ Hayden?
Aaron Colvin was, perhaps, the best nickel cornerback in the NFL last season. He's now a Houston Texan. The Jaguars replaced him this offseason with veteran free agent DJ Hayden. Hayden hasn't found much success in the NFL after being drafted in the first round by the Oakland Raiders in 2013. But he performed best when in the slot last year. If he can prove to be a reliable nickel corner then the Jaguars defense shouldn't skip a beat. Hayden has big shoes to fill, but with the help of the rest of the Jaguars star studded secondary and a dominant defensive line, Hayden could be in for the best season of his career. If Hayden is unable to perform at a high level, then the Jaguars may be forced to work Jalen Myrick or Tayler Patmon into the rotation more often.
4. How quickly will the receiver group come together?
The Jaguars have two newcomers at receiver that are expected to play a big role in the passing game. Veteran free agent signing Donte Moncrief has the best shot at being the Jaguars starting WR opposite Marqise Lee while rookie DJ Chark has the size, speed, and deep ball ability to get on the field sooner rather than later. The Jaguars are also without Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns for the first time since 2013. The two proved to be the Jaguars most reliable targets during their time here in Jacksonville. The Jags also have two second year players expected to take a step. The 2017 undrafted free agent Keelan Cole had an impressive rookie season leading the team in receiving yards and averaging an eye popping 17.8 yards per catch. 2017 fourth round pick Dede Westbrook was able to make an impact in the second half of the season after missing nine games with an abdomen injury. How quickly will this group get on the same page with each other and with Blake Bortles? If chemistry happens quickly then the Jaguars could become a very, very dangerous offense in 2018.
5. When will Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye arrive?
The only two no shows at voluntary OTA's today were the Jaguars two starting CBs, both of whom were Pro Bowlers last season. Head coach Doug Marrone made it clear that he had spoken to both players and knew that they wouldn't be in attendance today. He also said he's not a fan of trying to make a statement through the media so he didn't comment too much further on the matter and did not give any indication as to when the Jaguars starting corners would return to the team. In the modern world this is a storyline to watch, although it probably shouldn't be. Jalen Ramsey can't hold out for a new contract because he isn't eligible for one until next offseason and AJ Bouye just got a fat contract from the Jaguars last offseason. So neither player would figure to be absent for monetary reasons. These OTA's are voluntary for a reason. If either player misses any of the mandatory practices later this summer then this will become more of an issue, but for now it's just something to keep your eye on.
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