Do the Jaguars need to retool their roster and coaching staff in 2019 OR should the organization completely rebuild the current roster and coaching staff from the ground up?
The answer to this questions isn't a simple one.
Part of the problem for the Jaguars this season has been their philosophical football beliefs. The Jaguars brass wants to be a ground and pound team that plays elite defense. The problem with that is that the modern NFL game, that has seen offenses exploding in 2018, leaves little room for a team with such an old school philosophy. The Jaguars have to play nearly a perfect game defensively to win. And their offense stands NO chance of being able to compete in a real shoot out. With such an archaic philosophy there is little room for error, even when playing against sub par teams. And when they face teams like the Chiefs, Saints, Rams and the like they stand little no chance of being competitive.
Their ground and pound philosophy could potentially work if they had quality QB play and some average to above average receiver play. But even then the margin for error is very small. Of course, injuries took away two of the Jaguars best receiving options in 2018 with wide receiver Marqise Lee sidelined for the whole season and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins being placed on IR with a core muscle injury. But even with those two players the Jaguars lack big time playmakers on the outside and down the middle.
How should the Jaguars go about fixing this team?
The Jaguars have got to get out of the stone age. They need to continue to employ Leonard Fournette and Carlos Hyde as runners, but they've got to get more vertical with their passing attack. They've got to update and upgrade their aerial arsenal.
Will Doug Caldwell be back as GM? A litany of missed first round picks, including Blake Bortles, Luke Joeckel, Dante Fowler Jr. and Taven Bryan has crippled the Jaguars over the years. Caldwell has put together a solid defensive roster, but his stubbornness with Blake Bortles should ultimately cost him his job.
Whether or not Doug Marrone will return as the head coach in 2019 will be huge. He's been given nothing to work with on offense in 2019 and has handled the losing well, at least publicly. He got the Jaguars to the AFC Championship less than a year ago. On the flip side it appears he has lost the locker room a bit this season and has a very conservative offensive philosophy, a philosophy that may not work long term in this modern NFL.
Nathaniel Hackett probably isn't the guy that's going to get this offense going consistently. He's had flashes of brilliant play calling and has been handicapped by the lack of talent he has to work with in the passing game, but the job he's done this year has not been good enough. The Jaguars may or may not replace him. I'm of the mind that they should. I would look to employ a new offensive coordinator that comes from the most innovative and up to date systems in the NFL like Kansas City or Los Angeles.
The Jaguars should keep their defense together as much as they possibly can. It's still one of the best defenses in the game. Todd Wash has done enough, in my mind, to warrant another year with the team. Even though the defense regressed this year in terms of turnovers and sacks the defense has still been among the best in football, outside of the debacle in Dallas and the first half in Indy, at not allowing big offensive outbursts.
Barry Church should be replaced in the starting lineup at strong safety by rookie Ronnie Harrison, who when given the opportunity, has looked like a potential playmaker at the position. Outside of that most defensive players should return. It seems possible that Malik Jackson or Marcell Dareus could be gone due to their large cap numbers, but that remains to be seen.
I believe a retooling and not a complete rebuild could see the Jaguars back in the playoffs sooner rather than later.
The Jaguars have four draft picks in the first three rounds of the 2019 draft. They should use these picks to select players that will help improve their passing attack.
The offensive line, when healthy, should be an above average unit, especially if they address the right side of the line, either at guard or tackle early on in the upcoming draft. Starting right guard AJ Cann has been inconsistent throughout his career and is set to be a free agent. I don't believe he's done enough to earn a second contract with the team. Starting right tackle Jermey Parnell is under contract through 2019 and has a cap hit of $5,000,000 whether or not he stays or goes. His potential replacement, Will Richardson, was drafted by the team in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Center Brandon Linder, left guard Andrew Norwell, and left tackle Cam Robinson should all be considered locks to return in 2019.
The Jaguars MUST select a QB of the future in the 2019 draft. The QB class isn't considered "elite" but there are guys out there that will develop into good NFL QBs. The Jaguars have to find one. Whether or not they sign a veteran will be an interesting development. The team is financially tied to Blake Bortles, but he has been a train wreck in 2018. Trading Blake Bortles will be nearly impossible as no team will be interested in trading for a sub par QB that has a big cap number. So the Jaguars will have to either keep him around or cut him after June 1st. If they go with the second option then he'll only count $11.5 towards the 2019 salary cap.
The team should grab play makers that are ready to come in and contribute on the outside and down the middle. The only receiving threats that should be considered locks to return are Dede Westbrook, Marqise Lee, DJ Chark and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Everyone else has been far too inconsistent. Donte Moncrief shows flashes, but he's on a one year prove it deal and the only thing that he has proven is that he's inconsistent. The Jaguars should spend at least two early picks at the wide recevier and/or tight end position. The class will be deep with talent in both areas.
I truly believe that fixing this Jaguars team could be as simple as finding someone to play decent football at QB. Of course, that's much easier said than done. But it's got to be priority number one in 2019. Injuries won't hit the offense this hard again in 2019 and with a decent player throwing the football the Jaguars could easily be a five to six win team right now, even with all the injuries.
If the Jaguars are able to get the right guys in the draft and add a veteran QB it wouldn't be a shock to see the team return to the playoffs in 2019 or 2020.
With a core of players that includes Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue, Myles Jack, Leonard Fournette, Calais Campbell, Dede Westbrook, Brandon Linder, Telvin Smith, Cam Robinson, Andrew Norwell, Tashaun Gipson, Ronnie Harrison, AJ Bouye, DJ Chark, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and DJ Hayden this is a team with enough talent to be competitive sooner rather than later. There are some obvious issues that need to be addressed on offense. The team's success in 2019 and beyond will be dependent on landing a new QB and some additional weapons. If the Jaguars brass, quits being stubborn, does that right thing, and supplants Bortles at QB, then this team will have a chance to, once again, compete for a playoff spot.
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