We continue our weeklong series looking at the biggest questions facing the Jaguars as the 2021 season approaches. Today, a closer look at the offensive tackle position, Tim Tebow’s role on the team and how COVID could impact the season.
Will the offensive tackles improve to provide better pass protection?
The Jaguars have invested high picks at offensive tackle. Both left tackle Cam Robinson and right tackle Jawaan Taylor were high second-round picks. Neither has solidified their spots, however. Both need to play better to give Trevor Lawrence time in the passing game.
Let’s start with Robinson, who was bound for free agency until the Jaguars designated him with the franchise tag this offseason. He’s shown flashes of greatness but has had a hard time staying on the field in his pro career. In 2020, however, Robinson played a full season for the first time as a pro. As a team, the Jaguars allowed the quarterback to be hit 89 times in 2020. That was tied for 16th. Smack dab in the middle of the league standings. Part of that was due to the Jaguars running the ball a lot. Despite that, the Jaguars ranked in the bottom quarter in sacks allowed. The tackles have to be better.
In his second year in the league, Taylor took a step back. Part of that was undoubtedly a side effect of the rest of the team struggling, but he has to be better. Too often, he was beaten by speed rushers. His run blocking continues to be ahead of his pass blocking at this point. This is a big year in Taylor’s development.
The Jaguars once again invested in a tackle in the second round, selecting Stanford’s Walker Little with the 45th pick. Will he be able to push for a starting spot? It bears watching in training camp.
What will Tim Tebow’s role be on the Jaguars?
There are two questions that I’ve gotten from Jaguars fans most often this offseason. First, are they going to be any good? And second, is Tebow going to make the team. My answer to the first question is that I think they’ll be much better, but not all the way there. The second question I answer with a question. Do you think Urban Meyer is going to cut Tim Tebow? To be frank, I don’t see it happening.
Tebow certainly has a long way to go as a tight end. He didn’t look out of place in the offseason practices but did look like a guy who was learning on the job. From a football standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to expect much from Tebow in his first year as a tight end. Perhaps a few plays specially designed for him here or there, but I don’t hear anyone in the organization saying that they are expecting him to be a major contributor.
As an influencer in the locker room, Tebow could play a bigger role. He understands how Meyer coaches and will have a good grasp of the offensive concepts that Meyer has used in the past. Some of those same concepts will be folded into the Jaguars’ offensive scheme. And, then there is Tebow’s well-documented work ethic and dedication which can’t help but rub off on a teammate or two. That is, assuming that Tebow makes the team. And that’s what I’m anticipating.
How will COVID impact the Jaguars season?
This is a bit of a speculative question. Now that the NFL has put out the guidelines and restrictions for unvaccinated players, the expectation is that all, or nearly all players and coaches will be vaccinated. Those who are not will not be allowed to eat with teammates and cannot leave the hotel on the road. Unvaccinated players can also create potential issues with where they’ll have to be during practices. In short, it’s not a good position to be in.
The other component to consider is how the possibility of positive COVID-19 tests could impact the Jaguars in a given week. It’s an issue that the Jaguars and other teams dealt with last year. Of course, the hope is that with a majority of players vaccinated, there will be fewer positive tests and no outbreaks that could cripple a position group, like the Denver Broncos experienced last year.
In short, there is no way to answer this question now, but it’s a topic we will keep an eye on as the 2021 season plays out.