The Florida sun is beginning to kick it up a notch in late May. With the sun and the heat also brings the start of Organized Training Activities (OTAs) for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The start of a new season. A make or break season for the faces in the front office. A chance for the Jaguars to recapture the AFC South crown and make a run to the playoffs. Or perhaps the season will materialize like it did in 2018 and the fans will try to accept mediocrity once again.
Either way the 2019 season for Jacksonville hinges on ifs. Yes, throughout the NFL many teams have ifs coming into a season, but Jacksonville certainly has the most ifs in the AFC South. Houston doesn’t have any ifs at quarterback, wide receiver, or a pass rush. Indianapolis doesn’t have any at quarterback, offensive line, or receiver. Tennessee… well, they have some ifs too. But Jacksonville hasn’t found a way to beat them recently. However, if the Jaguars can overcome all of the glaring ifs on offense, look for them to compete for AFC South crown in 2019.
Ifs Surround Jacksonville Jaguars Offense
Perhaps the biggest impediment for the 2018 Jaguars was the inability to stay healthy. The injury bug impacted the entire offense last season. The attrition began in the preseason with the loss of veteran receiver Marqise Lee. After suffering a season-ending injury, the jury is still out on Lee’s return as an impactful contributor on offense. However, if Lee can return and take up a leadership role for the young receivers, the corps can exceed expectations. That said, nobody knows if Lee will emerge as the “go-to receiver” for quarterback Nick Foles in 2019. But someone has to and it might as well be the proven veteran. If not Lee, then perhaps Dede Westbrook or Chris Conley can lead the group.
Running Game Ifs
Possibly the most likely if for the Jaguars surrounds the running game. Last season, running back Leonard Fournette missed half the season with a nagging hamstring injury. During that span, the Jaguars did not have an answer as a viable replacement. If Fournette is to continue as the focal point of the offense, moves had to be made. The front office attempted to address the issue in the offseason with the signing of several veterans and drafting Ryquell Armstead.
Also, new running backs coach Terry Robiskie was brought in to right the ship. If Robiskie can get production out of Fournette and the rest of the group, the Jaguars will dictate the game offensively. If a solid backup can emerge from the group without a dropoff in production. So many ifs for the running game. Certainly a facet of the game to keep an eye on as the season approaches.
The big guys up front were not excluded from the injury plague of 2018. Left tackle Cam Robinson returns in 2019 from a season-ending injury. If Robinson can at least get back to his 2017 form he can provide Foles some blindside protection. Also if guard Andrew Norwell and center Brandon Linder can return from injuries and play up to their potential, the running game will flourish.
On the right side, Jacksonville selected right tackle Jawaan Taylor in the second round of the draft to fill a need. If Taylor proves that he is truly a first round talent and a significant upgrade, he will occupy that position for years to come.
Finally, if new offensive line coach George Warhop brings his intensity to the entire group, the sky is the limit. Warhop has multiple years of success and will need to translate his philosophy to the entire group (starters and reserves) in order to make the offense viable under coordinator John DeFilippo.
Last Word on Jacksonville Jaguars Offense
Injuries demoralized the Jaguars offensively in 2018. Which in turn impacted the defense in many ways. As 2019 season begins the Jaguars’ offense has many question marks and ifs. Including if a receiver emerges from an inexperienced group as a true weapon for Foles. Questions on if the running game and offensive line can return to form with new coaches. If the majority of the Jaguars questions on offense are answered positively, the team will challenge for AFC South.
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