The Jaguars don't look all that close to competing at the highest level week in and week out. They're a youthful bunch that will need to see rapid improvement from inexperienced players just to have a chance in 2020. But their special team units, led by coach Joe DeCamillis, might be the very best in football.
It all starts with the men kicking the ball.
Josh Lambo has been the most accurate kicker in football since arriving in Duval halfway through the 2017 season. In 2019, Lambo missed just one field goal, converting on 33/34 tries, including 4/4 from 50+ yards. He's been a model of consistency for the Jaguars.
Punter Logan Cooke came into his own during his second year in the league in 2019. Cooke led the NFL in net punting and showed off his precision with 25 punts downed inside the 20-yard line. And Cooke deserves credit for being a dangerous option on fake punts, having converted on several passes for first downs in such situations.
With two maestros kicking the ball for the Jaguars, they've got a leg up (pun intended) on the competition, even if they do have some regression. The Jags also have some impressive gunners. Cody Davis, who departed in free agency for New England, took Andrew Wingard under his wing in 2019, showing him the ropes on special teams. Wingard didn't disappoint, as he tied for the team lead in special teams tackles. With Wingard leading the way, and young players like Daniel Thomas, Chris Claybrooks, and Josiah Scott eager to make their mark, the coverage units should be an asset in 2020.
The only real question mark on special teams is the return jobs. There's no clear cut answer as to who will be returning kickoffs and punts for the Jaguars in 2020. Dede Westbrook has had some success as a punt returner, while Keelan Cole has had some flashes returning kicks. But Chris Claybrooks, the Jaguars' seventh-round pick out of Memphis, could be the answer. He averaged 30 yards per kick return in 2019 and returned one kick to the house for the Tigers. The Jaguars are going to give him every opportunity to win the job at kick returner and potentially punt returner as well. The diminutive defensive back has blazing 4.3 speed and could help the Jaguars in the field position department.
For a team that will need a lot to go their way from game to game, having an elite special teams can be a game-changer. That's what the Jaguars will be expecting from their special teams units this year. Will they be up to the task?
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