Jacksonville Jaguars: Three keys to the offense in 2019

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 16: Dede Westbrook #12 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs for yardage during the game at TIAA Bank Field on December 16, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 16: Dede Westbrook #12 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs for yardage during the game at TIAA Bank Field on December 16, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars have plenty of work to do this offseason, including trying to repair an offense that was one of the worst in the NFL last season.

I’m sure Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone would have loved to have seen his offense perform as well as wide receiver Dede Westbrook did last season. The second-year wide receiver led the team in catches and receiving yards and for the majority of 2018 was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal offensive showing.

Westbrook figures to be a prominent fixture in the team’s gameplan in 2019. Whether the team seeks another big-play pass catcher or hopes the combination of Dede Westbrook and Marqise Lee with a rookie or two sprinkled in will be the best option isn’t known.

Westbrook, however, was the lone player on the offensive side of the ball who appeared to have improved as the season wore on.

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The Jaguars were 31st in scoring last season with 15.6 points a game. The running game was a far cry from 2017 when it led the league in yards per game. The team averaged 107.7 yards a contest in 2018, good for only 19th in the league.

A plethora of injuries to the running game stable and the offensive line had something to do with a lack of production.

The passing game was 26th in the NFL at 194.3 yards a contest. Both Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler proved inefficient all season. A new offensive coordinator with the ability to open the playbook up will help this team beyond measure.

If Jacksonville is going to improve in 2019, all facets of the offense will need to be redefined. That means more attention to play calling, a balance of run versus the pass and the ability to gain tough yards on short third-down conversions. If it sounds like a lot, it is. This team is nowhere near competing every game with an offense that can win games instead of lose them.

Here are three keys to the offense in 2019.

A healthy Leonard Fournette – Leonard Fournette’s injury woes were a big storyline this season. His suspension did not help him win over the front office. Rumors of the team’s dissatisfaction with the former first-round pick boiled over in the final game of the season.

Executive Vice-President Tom Coughlin took to social media to voice his displeasure over Fournette’s [and T.J. Yeldon’s] lack of interest in the 20-3 loss to Houston.

There is a way to make amends here, but it will take some work and trust must be regained from Coughlin and the organization.

Fournette must be present at the team’s OTAs and training camp in the best shape of his career. He must show more maturity in his decision-making. Most of all, he must commit to being a leader on the field, take the offense and put it on his back.

Despite all the trade talk so far this offseason, I believe Fournette remains with the team in 2019 and proves he can be the player the team drafted in 2017.

More consistency with the wide receivers – The Jaguars led the NFL in dropped passes. It’s no surprise. Quarterback play was awful in 2018, but a unit that many (including myself) to be one of the unsung heroes of this team, underachieved.

Westbrook caught 66 passes for 717 yards and five touchdowns. Think about how good he could have been with a competitive passing game? Westbrook’s speed and ability to fight for the tough yards was evident the second half of 2018. He needs a complimentary wide receiver on the field or he must become the compliment to a big-time scorer.

The Donte Moncrief experiment did not work. Keelan Cole looked like he would be the breakout star of this bunch after the New England game, but he was seldom heard from afterward.

Jacksonville should seek a mid-range free agent with play-making ability this offseason and grab a rising star through the Draft on Day 2. The return on Marqise Lee, if he is at full speed, will help the Jaguars stretch the field.

Fix the offensive line – I have never seen a unit so beat up as the Jagaurs offensive line. Injury after injury decimated the front five. It’s ironic the one starter from the first game of the season to remain healthy, A.J. Cann, was considered the team’s weakest link in training camp.

If the Jaguars take the path in the Draft I want them to, then they address the offensive line first and hunt for a quarterback in the second round. Greg Little of Mississippi or Jonah Williams of Alabama could be available with the seventh pick.

Free agency could bring in a player or two that won’t destroy the salary cap.

Jermey Parnell figures to be gone at right tackle. What to do with backups and replacement players is still up in the air. Whoever comes in as the team’s new offensive line coach will have his work cut out for him.

Next. Where do the Jaguars go from here?. dark

Even before the injuries took hold of the franchise, this unit wasn’t as good as it played in 2017. It might have been the team’s biggest surprise in 2018, and that’s not a good thing at all.