JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If there is one overriding storyline for the Jaguars off-season, it is answer the question, “How do the Jaguars take the next step?”
After advancing to the AFC championship game or your ago, the team has its sights set on the Super Bowl. One of the ways the team can improve is by players taking ownership of what happens on the field. It appears to be happening at every turn this off-season.
"Watching how they are practicing, it is not us (the coaching staff) screaming at those guys saying, ‘Hey, get up to the line! Get to the huddle! Tighten it up!’ It is them correcting each other and it is them doing it themselves," said offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. "The more they can take ownership [in practice] the more they are going to take ownership on the field, and the more the product on the field is going to get better. That is what is going to get better."
Players said that they saw it developing last year, but the ownership by the players is more evident this offseason than ever before.
"We know what it takes to get back to where we got to. Everybody is focused and willing to do anything they can in order to get out there and get back to where we were at,” Lee said. “We are willing to put that work in.
Even new additions to the team have recognized the trend. The word that several players used to describe it was communication.
"We're laying the right bricks on our foundation," tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins said. "Guys are working hard, we're clearing things up. This is a group that really communicates and that makes it a lot easier for everyone else when we're on the same page. It's okay to not know something and ask for help. It's not okay to sit there and not know it. No one has all the answers here. That's the beautiful thing about it. Guys are trying to get better."
That goes for players on both sides of the ball helping to improve each other. It's not unusual for an offensive lineman to help correct one of his own, but when that communication improves across the lines, good things can happen.
"Iron sharpens iron. We make each other better,” Lee said. “If I feel like they are slacking in a situation where I can help them (the defense), I am going to speak up and help them. I think what is so big about this team this year is that we are all open to criticism from each other.”
If the Jaguars continue to show improvement as the season approaches, this could be a special season. Pete Prisco of CBS Sports has been visiting camps all around the NFL. He tweeted today that he thinks the Jaguars have the most talented roster in the league.
They might not win it, but after two days watching Jaguars practices and talking to guys, they are the best team in the league talent-wise— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) June 13, 2018
While the most talented team doesn’t always win, it’s a good place to start.