When the Jacksonville Jaguars initially hired Keenan McCardell as their wide receivers coach, the move was met with much skepticism. However, heading into his second year on the job, they seem to have gotten one of the most underrated coaches in the league.
While Keenan McCardell enjoyed a decorated, and uncharacteristically long 17-year career in the NFL, there were many question marks surrounding his ability to translate his on-field success to the sidelines. Prior to getting hired in Jacksonville, he was fired by Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan after two years on the job in favor of Ike Hilliard, and was coaching at a school that recently joined the Big Ten in Maryland.
His lack of coaching experience and proven success at the next level was what made fans and analysts alike question the move. But after a year in which McCardell coached a unit of no name receivers into one of the better units in the league – in a run-oriented offense – his former head coach Tom Coughlin is looking like he made the right decision.
McCardell was able to work wonders with a depth chart that once was down to two undrafted rookies, and a fourth round pick playing in his fifth NFL game in Dede Westbrook. Keelan Cole was one of the league’s biggest surprises, and looks to have star potential – as a undrafted steal no less.
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In addition to having proven role players, the group has several guys who seem like they haven’t reached their full potential yet in Donte Moncrief and Rashad Greene. After an impressive minicamp for both of them – in which they seemed to have made large strides in their game – and the wide receiver group as a whole, the sky seems to be the limit for what this group can accomplish.
What separates McCardell from other coaches is his energetic attitude, passionate approach, and sky-high expectations for his receivers. He comes to work everyday ready to push this group hard and often to ensure their success.
“We want to be the best receiving core in the league. Hands down. Ain’t no question, that’s how y’all got to think – everyday you come out. If we ain’t thinking that way, we’re thinking wrong,” McCardell said while Mic’d Up during an OTA’s practice.
This type of mindset, and the day-in-day out grind to elevate this talented group – that lacks a true number one wideout – is what’ll separate them from other teams. McCardell has the pure football IQ to improve everyone’s route running, instincts, and catch tendencies, as well as the creativity in play calling ideas to help them succeed.
If McCardell is able to bring the wide receivers up to par by September 9th, the Jaguars may be primed to unearth a explosive passing attack in 2018.