The Jaguars are likely to have a ton of turnaround heading into 2020. The coaching staff is almost certainly on its way out the door. Changes in the front office should also be expected. But just because there will be sweeping changes at the Bank this offseason, that doesn't mean these players and coaches have nothing to achieve over the final quarter of the season.
With four games left, there's still plenty to prove.
Gardner Minshew has been given the reigns at QB, and with good reason. As a starter, Minshew is 4-4 as a rookie. He provides the Jaguars a spark with his mobility, accuracy, and perhaps mostly with his moxy and fire. But Minshew needs to prove that he is a viable option at quarterback moving forward. If he can consistently pick up first downs, limit turnover worthy plays, and continue to be a big-play threat, the Jaguars should view the rookie as a potential starting QB in 2020. I'm by no means saying the Jaguars should be content just to name Minshew the starter this offseason if he plays well — the front office (whoever it may be comprised of) needs to keep adding talent at QB — but a strong showing over the final four games should put Minshew in position to be considered for the 2020 starting job.
DJ Chark and Leonard Fournette need to keep proving their worth. These two LSU tigers may be the only real building blocks when it comes to offensive weapons for the Jaguars.
Fournette is 11 yards away from 1,000 for the season and has been dynamic with his receiving ability. The third-year runner is seventh in the NFL in rushing yards and third amongst running backs in receptions. He's also dramatically improved on his efficiency — he's averaging 4.5 yards per attempt on the ground.
Chark is in his second year in the league, and his turnaround has been even more surprising. After a dismal rookie season that got cut short due to injury, DJ Chark has exploded onto the NFL scene in 2019. He's hauled in 58 catches this season and has 881 yards and eight touchdowns to show for it. He's fourth in the NFL in receiving touchdowns this year.
If Minshew, Chark, and Fournette can lead the Jaguars' offense to some big scoring outputs, they should be viewed as foundational pieces.
It's also time to put up or shut up for two interior offensive linemen. Brandon Linder and Andrew Norwell need to show that they're worth the massive contracts the Jaguars' signed them to; otherwise, they could be on their way out of town.
On the other side of the ball, many players have much to prove.
Yannick Ngakoue needs to finish strong in order to secure the biggest bag possible this offseason, whether it be from the Jaguars or elsewhere. After a slow start to 2019 due to injury, he's picked up six sacks this season. Getting into double digits will raise his price tag considerably.
Assuming Myles Jack can return to play, he needs a solid four-game stretch. That may be easier said than done. After being inked to a lucrative deal his summer, Jack has thoroughly disappointed. He's likely better suited to play outside linebacker, but the Jaguars have been stubborn in their approach with him, insisting that he's their MIKE.
Can Taven Bryan finally find some consistency? If Bryan doesn't round into form, the bust chatter will continue. The 2018 first-round pick has not lived up to expectations and might be fighting just to have a role on the team next season.
Second-year CB Tre Herndon has a chance to prove he belongs in the starting lineup next year. He's had some ups and downs but has overall been a positive surprise for the Jaguars since Jalen Ramsey's departure. He's coming off of a poor outing against the Titans, but on the season, Herndon has allowed catches on 46.9% of passes in coverage.
So, while it might seem like the Jaguars are entering a meaningless four games stretch with a lame-duck coaching staff and front office, there's still plenty to play for in the coming weeks.
The players mentioned above get a chance to prove themselves this Sunday against the Chargers, who boast a strong defense and plenty of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.
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