Jaguars who must show improvement in 2019
By David Levin
His If the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to return to their 2017 playoff form this season, they must get solid contributions from these players in 2019.
In a perfect world, the Jacksonville Jaguars would return to the same form that led them to the AFC Championship Game in 2017. That means head coach Doug Marone would have a top 10 offense and a top 10 defense on the field at the same time.
Because the NFL is unpredictable, and injuries destroyed this franchise last year, the numbers reflect a different story. There are plenty of holes on the offensive line and problems with the passing game. That’s not to mention the fact that their star running back, Leonard Fournette, who missed significant time last year with injuries and he came due to suspension, must return healthy and ready to contribute.
A new year, a different opportunity.
A new quarterback is in play, a new offensive coordinator is on the staff, and there is optimism that addition by subtraction will lead this team back to its glory of just two seasons ago. For that to happen this franchise is going to have to call on specific players to make an impact in just a few short months.
Here is a look at three players who need to play a major role in what happens during the 2019 season.
Chris Conley – The Jaguars signed Chris Conley during free agency after a less than spectacular career in Kansas City. Injuries had something to do with that and Jacksonville was hoping that a completely healthy Conley, who has a history with quarterback Nick Foles, will lead to success.
In four seasons, Conley has 104 catches for 1,238 yards. That has to improve if he is going to make an impact on this offense. The team signed veteran Donte Moncrief last season in free agency, hoping the veteran would give this core of receivers a boost. The Jaguars got little in return on their investment.
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Conley was considered one of the fastest receivers in the NFL when he was drafted out of Georgia in the third round in 2015. The Jaguars could definitely take advantage of that speed, provided he is completely healthy. He should battle DJ Chark and Keelan Cole for the third spot on the depth chart if he has a good camp.
Cam Robinson – I had a conversation with a few Jaguars insiders last year after left tackle Cam Robinson went down was a knee injury in the third game of the season. I made the comment that I thought his injury was more significant to the offense then Leonard Fournette dealing with his hamstring.
One person, in particular, told me that I was right. Once Robinson went down, the injuries mounted. You can never say that injuries to a particular unit are linked, but the significant damage that player after player going down had on this offense was a major reason why there was a lack of success in 2018. Robinson is the key to offensive line balance.
While Brandon Linder and Andrew Norwell also suffered from the injury bug, the left side of the offensive line was obliterated. Quarterbacks suffered 53 sacks last year. That has to change.
It also should be noted that even before he went down with the injury, there were questions about Robinson’s footwork and his play early on. He must have a better grasp of blocking schemes the season and given that he lost a full year of contact, he goes into 2019 is one of the big question marks of the 2019 season.
Jarrod Wilson – If the season started today, Jarrod Wilson would be a starting safety for the Jaguars defense.
After the 2018 campaign ended, the team signed him to a three-year contract extension knowing that the state of the defensive roster may change. Wilson showed improvement throughout the season as a reserve and part-time starter.
Now armed with a chance to make an impact, all eyes will be on him, waiting to see if he continues that progression.
I still believe the Jaguars seek another safety in the draft, if for nothing else but depth which is much needed. Having Wilson, and Ronnie Harrison on the backend provides plenty of questions as to whether this duo will have the impact as Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church in 2017.
We can’t avoid asking the question, “Did the Jaguars do the right thing by cutting both starting safeties from the beginning of 2018?“ Continued progress by Wilson and solid play should answer that question.