Once one of the most important parts of the Jacksonville Jaguars offense, Keenan McCardell is now an important part of the team’s coaching staff.
Once a high-impact player for the Jacksonville Jaguars on the field from 1996 to 2001, Keenan “Thunder” McCardell now has an equally important role for the team: Coaching the next era of pass catchers.
While a member of the Jaguars, McCardell caught 499 passes for 6,393 yards and 30 touchdowns. Mccardell then moved on to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – where he won a Super Bowl – and then to San Diego Chargers and Washington.
McCardell began coaching with Washington as a wide receivers coach, then moved on to college to Maryland. From 2017 on McCardell has been the wide receivers coach for the Jaguars.
Last season, with McCardell as wide receivers coach, Chark exploded onto the scene with 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. What makes Chark’s excellence so stunning is it comes after a difficult rookie season, where he caught only 14 passes for 174 yards and a fumble. He also missed five games because of an injury.
Another player with a career-best season in 2019 was Conley, who caught 47 passes for 775 yards and five touchdowns – all career-highs.
With those two breakout seasons, Jacksonville is one of only three teams in 2019 to have three wide receivers with over 600 receiving yards in Chark, Conley and Westbrook. Westbrook caught 66 passes, the same total he led the Jaguars with in 2018.
An exciting player to look forward to under the tutelage of McCardell is Colorado rookie Shenault. In three season with the Buffaloes, Shenault posted over 2.000 yards and 149 receptions for 17 touchdowns.
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Shenault is a versatile player and will be a great addition to the new-look Jaguars offense under Jay Gruden, but it all starts in the receivers room with McCardell. Given his track record with Chark, Conley and even Stefan Diggs at Maryland, it will be exciting to see how Shenault will develop under an experienced and proven position coach.
What helps McCardell connect with his players is his years of experience as an NFL player, being one of the best receivers in the NFL during his time with the Jaguars.
"“Coach has got a swagger about him and I like it but he’s intense. He definitely knows what he is talking about and just being out there and learning from him, the very small [details], his experience coaching and playing, if he speaks, you just want to be a sponge and soak it all up.”"
The coaching of McCardell will not only be important to the Jaguars wide receivers, but the team’s offense as a whole and second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew. If the receivers are functioned as a solid unit, then the offense will be elevated to potential league-high levels.
Since the departure of Pro Bowl wide receiver Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, the Jaguars have been looking for the next ‘Thunder and Lightning.’ While it is unknown if Chark and Shenault will turn into the next great wide receiver duo, they will certainly have a fantastic coach and leader on their sideline.