The Jacksonville Jaguars special teams unit was quietly strong in 2018. The majority of the same players that comprised that group should be back with the team in 2019. Many of those key pieces on special teams were first or second-year players in 2018 and with more experience, those same players could be better, and more consistent next season.
The biggest strength for the Jaguars special teams unit over the last season and a half has been kicker Josh Lambo. Since joining the Jaguars midway through the 2017 campaign, Lambo has made 92.7% of his field goal attempts and 93.2% of extra point attempts. Perhaps his most impressive stat -- Lambo has made 7/8 attempts from beyond 50 yards. He just signed a four-year contract extension with the team and will be around for 2019, at the very least.
Jacksonville's punter, Logan Cooke, was a rookie in 2018. When punters have bad moments, everyone remembers. Cooke had his fair share of shaky moments as a rookie, but with a touch more consistency in his second season as a pro, he could quickly become one of the elite punters in football. His rookie season stats were already among the best in the game. With 37 punts landed inside the 20-yard line, Cooke had the third most in football. It should, of course, be noted that he also had the third most punts in football, none of which were blocked. His average of 45 yards per punt wasn't among the league leaders, but his net of 42.9 was eighth in the league. Perhaps his most crucial stat, returners averaged just five yards per return, which was good for second-lowest mark in football. The low return average is a testament to Cooke's hang time, ball placement, and the Jaguars punt coverage unit. Cooke will need to cut down on the mistakes in 2019, and if he does, he'll be among the best in the game.
The Jaguars' primary return men, DJ Chark and Dede Westbrook, both flashed the potential to be among the best in the game. Chark, specializing in kick returns, has blazing speed and is a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball. Chark missed a portion of the season due to injury, but he averaged 26.6 yards per kick return, which would have been amongst the leagues best over the course of an entire season. Westbrook, the team's best punt returner, returned 19 punts for an average of 14 yards per return. His average placed him among the top five league-wide. The Jaguars should continue to deploy these two as their kick and punt returners, respectively.
As for the coverage units, the Jaguars were the best in football at covering kicks, surrendering just 17.8 yards per return. Their punt coverage unit was also elite and finished second only to the Colts with an average of 5.0 yards per return allowed. All of the key contributors to the Jags' coverage units should be back in 2019.
Coached by special teams guru Joe DeCamillis, the Jaguars were tough on special teams in 2018. With good health, the Jaguars should be even better on special teams in 2019. Special teams should be special in Jacksonville next season.
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