JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We conclude our weeklong series of the biggest questions facing the Jaguars as the 2021 season approaches.
A new coaching staff brings with it new schemes on offense and defense. What will the Jaguars look like on the field and how many wins should we expect?
What will the defense look like?
The Jaguars purged the entire staff from last year and brought back former defensive line coach Joe Cullen, who had been with the Ravens. Cullen has never been a defensive coordinator before, but he comes from the Ravens who ran a 3-4 defense with very good success. The Jaguars have been running a 4-3. Cullen says there will be principles of both in the Jaguars scheme.
It’s going to be interesting to follow how the new scheme impacts the linebackers. Last year, Joe Schobert and Myles Jack played the majority of the snaps for the Jaguars. Expect them to do the same this year. The difference will be how the other players around them are used. Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson could be used at outside linebackers as pass rushers. It’s all about doing a better job of getting to the quarterback, which, of course, means stopping the run on early downs as well.
To have the speed of Allen, Jack and Chaisson on the field together with Schobert also makes the Jaguars a faster defense.
What will the offense look like?
Some of what we expect to see from the Jaguars offense this year is likely to be something like Urban Meyer ran in college and something like the Seattle Seahawks have run with Russell Wilson. And, of course, they’ll be crafting the system around Trevor Lawrence.
One of the benefits of having a rookie quarterback with an all-new coaching staff is that you can start fresh. Think of it as a clean whiteboard the coaches have been going to work on for the past six months or so. What we can expect is a system that allows Lawrence to use his mobility, ability to read the defense, and to deliver the ball to the right receiver. But of course, it’s about more than just Lawrence.
At wide receiver, there’s DJ Chark, who was a Pro Bowl receiver two years ago. He has rebuilt his body at Meyer’s insistence this offseason and we expect a bounce-back season from Chark. Laviska Shenault returns for his second season and the Jaguars also brought in Marvin Jones in free agency. With the likes of James Robinson and first-round draft pick Travis Etienne, the Jaguars will have some playmakers.
But what about at tight end? I wouldn’t expect a lot from that position group in the passing game. but who knows...there’s always Tim Tebow.
How good will the Jaguars be?
Now let’s turn our attention to the final BIG offseason question that I have about this team. It’s a question that a lot of you have been asking me as well. How good are the Jaguars going to be? I have been answering with a one-word summary...better. That’s not a complete answer, of course.
When I went through the schedule after it was released this spring, I had the Jaguars finishing at 7-10 in the new 17 game season. That is a little better than I thought before I started assigning wins and losses. But let us take some history. The Jaguars used the first pick of the draft on Trevor Lawrence. Of the past five teams to draft a quarterback No. 1, four of them saw an improvement in their record the following year. The Bengals went from 2 wins to 4 with Joe Burrow before he was injured. The Browns went from winless to a 7 win team after selecting Baker Mayfield. Only the Rams got worse in Jared Goff’s first year when he was a part-time starter. So we should anticipate an improvement of a handful of wins. Maybe seven wins isn’t overly optimistic. I believe that there will be growing pains for Urban Meyer, but I think this will be a building block season for a playoff run in the future.