With veterans scheduled to report on Tuesday, July 28th, football is nearly upon us. Still, there are more questions than answers for the NFL and NFLPA. Similarly, the Jaguars are a team loaded with roster questions.
An important query? Who will be the most improved player for the Jaguars in 2020?
Cynthia Frelund, NFL Network's analytics expert, recently gave her answer to that question for all 32 teams. She thinks Gardner Minshew will see the most significant jump from 2019 to 2020 of any Jaguar:
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While I tend to agree with Frelund that Minshew has an excellent chance of showing vast improvement in his play, I'm not sure her explanation provides any insight into why he will develop.
For me, it starts with how he can improve from an individual standpoint. He had the fumbling issue early on in his rookie season, but that was mostly corrected in his second stint as the starting QB in 2019.
Minshew has two critical areas where he can improve his game: pocket awareness and footwork.
The Jaguars' mustachioed young gunslinger could stand to calm down in the pocket just a bit. He shouldn't lose his willingness to work outside, scramble, and find players streaking down the field, but if he could display just a bit more comfort in the pocket, it could do wonders for his overall game.
Then there's his footwork, primarily from within in the pocket. He just needs to find more consistency with his drops. During his rookie year, Minshew often times would allow his feet to get to close together, which would, in turn, not give him the best platform to throw from, causing passes to not have enough heat on them. He could also stand to not play on his toes so much.
If Minshew can advance in those two areas of quarterbacking, he'll become a more consistently accurate QB. With his work ethic, there's no reason to believe he can't improve in those areas, at least a bit.
Then there's the environment around Minshew, which is significantly upgraded from 2019. Having Jay Gruden in his back pocket should help Minshew greatly. The offense is designed to accentuate what Gardner does well. In earnest, Jay Gruden is a much better play-caller than John DeFilippo. His formations and route concepts should make it easier for Minshew to succeed on a given play.
And Jacksonville's weapons have improved as well. Adding Tyler Eifert, Chris Thompson, and Laviska Shenault to the mix will help, as will getting Josh Oliver and James O'Shaughnessy back in the lineup. A tight end truly is a QBs best friend.
Instead of fighting for a roster spot, Minshew has been able to take control of Jay Gruden's offense and become a team leader, organizing player only practices and taking the time to call his offensive weapons individually.
It's easy to grasp why one might believe in Minshew heading into 2020.
But there certainly are other candidates. On the defensive line, Josh Allen and Taven Bryan will both have bigger roles, which could lead to some staggering results. Bryan was a menace in 2019 against the run, while Allen was solid all-around off the edge as a rookie. With another year of development, these two defensive linemen could impress.
There's also Ronnie Harrison, who enters his second season as the starting strong safety. He's got plenty of talent but needs to become a more consistent force on the back end.
It wouldn't be all that surprising to see Cam Robinson or Jawaan Taylor to make a big leap either. Robinson struggled coming off an ACL tear, while Taylor was thrown into the fire as a rookie. With a healthy offseason for Cam, and the added experience for Jawaan, this tackle duo might turn some heads.
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