After some key new additions that bolstered an already stacked roster, the sky is the limit for the 2018 Jacksonville Jaguars.
When a lot of struggling franchises in the NFL finally attain success, they become complacent with their progress and ultimately regress the following year. Therefore, it is no coincidence that 8/12 teams that made the postseason in the 2016 season failed to make it back last year.
However, after revamping and improving their roster during the offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars have made one thing clear: they’re not satisfied with merely reaching the AFC Championship Game. The team that became the surprise Cinderella story of 2017, and was one quarter away from reaching the Super Bowl, wasn’t satisfied with their performance. The organization that had a ten year drought between playoff berths from 2007-2017 made this loud and clear with their offseason additions.
In a surprise move, the Jaguars signed All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell – making him the highest paid player at the position – in hopes of further improving their ground-and-pound run game, which is the backbone of their offensive attack. This move was a statement of sorts, showing the rest of the league that they plan to continuously punch their opposition in the mouth play-after-play. The Jaguars don’t care about disguising their run-first gameplan, or if defenses continue to stack the box, instead this is a team that is daring teams to stop their dynamic trio of bell cow and workhorse Leonard Fournette, bruiser T.J. Yeldon, and the scrappy Corey Grant.
Speaking of the rich getting richer, the Jaguars decided to take arguably the most versatile defensive lineman in the draft when they snagged Taven Bryan at 29th overall. Playing on a line that boasts two reigning Pro-Bowlers, and two guys that have made the NFL’s all-star game in the past, Bryan likely won’t play a huge role in 2018. However, he gives the team a luxurious amount of depth at the position that will allow them to mix-and-match on a situational basis by rotating him in. They’ll also be able to slowly prepare Bryan to take on a bigger role going forward.
In addition to beefing up their offensive line, and adding depth on the defensive line, the Jaguars decided they needed to add more passing catching options in hope of developing a more consistent air attack.
In a business first move, the team replaced seasoned veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis, who spent the duration of his 10-year career in Jacksonville, with the younger, more athletic Austin Seferian-Jenkins. As perhaps the most underrated addition of the offseason, Seferian-Jenkins is a pass catching tight end who can lineup anywhere on the line of scrimmage, and has both excellent separation and yards after the catch ability.
Additionally, the team added proven depth at the position by signing Niles Paul. While mainly used as a blocking tight end, Paul has shown off his pass catching ability in the past – something that led to a career high 507 receiving yards in 2015. In Nathaniel Hackett’s tight end friendly offense, Paul could be in line for a expanded role.
At the wide receiver position, the team decided to sign the talented, yet injury prone, Donte Moncrief to a one-year prove it deal. Moncrief hasn’t played a full season since 2015, but has the ability to be a vertical threat who can stretch the field. The team also decided to beef up the depth chart, while simultaneously continuing the youth movement at the position when they drafted the speedy DJ Chark. With so many other talented wideouts already on board to open up the field, Chark has the ability to explode and be this year’s Keelan Cole.
In addition to physically adding integral pieces to the team’s success in 2018 and beyond – if OTAs are any early indicator – the Jaguars seem more motivated than ever to prove they weren’t a one-year-wonder. Rather than becoming satisfied with their brief taste of success, the front office and players alike decided they wanted to take the next step and become a perennial powerhouse and dynasty in the NFL. This is a team that still has a salty taste in their mouth after having a possible first Super Bowl title slip through their fingertips. Now that all the pieces are in place for them to bring the Lombardi Trophy to Duval County, all they have to do is execute.