With a lack of preseason games on the schedule this season, the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff will find it harder to evaluate rookies.
Rookies are going to have a harder time this season because of a lack of time on the field and one-to-one coaching they would have received had the COVID-19 pandemic, not shut down the majority of the NFL’s offseason program.
While the Jaguars are hoping their 12 draft picks and the undrafted free agents they have on the roster can pick up the basics of the schemes installed by both offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Todd Wash, it will be up to them to prove they have committed enough to memory to show they belong on the 53-man roster or the 16-man practice squad.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, just like every other team in the NFL are at a deficit they must overcome.
"“Preseason games were huge,” said longtime NFL assistant coach Brad Seely, who retired in May as one of the game’s top special teams coaches after 31 years. “Especially as the years went on, the contact phase of it became so limited in practice. You just don’t want to get anybody hurt. There were times where other than practicing against another team, those opportunities and then the game were the only time you got to see guys do things.”"
The Jacksonville Jaguars, who have won only 11 games in the past two seasons, were able to tale 12 players in the NFL draft, sign 18 undrafted free agents, and use free agency to add depth at key positions of need this offseason.
Take into account the front office (David Caldwell) traded popular and high-priced veterans for draft capital and released other veterans because of salary-cap considerations and the team already walked into the 2020 season with their backs against the wall.
COVID-19 was just another kick in the gut. So far, however, Marrone has had positive things to say about his entire team navigating through the issues with the virtual season so far.
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"“The players have been really compliant in trying to do all the right things,” Marrone said. “With the rules and the protocols that are in place, that was my biggest goal starting out – was to try to get everyone used to it. …“I think everybody’s been doing a really good job of it. You don’t hear, ‘Oh, I can’t believe we have to do this,’ or, ‘I can’t believe we have to do that,’ or, ‘Why can’t we do this or that?’ From a standpoint of being educated on it and knowing what we have to do, everyone’s been really good.”"
Teams that have been perennial winners might be at an advantage because their roster turnover may not be as great as other teams. Continuity with veterans and their connection to rookies may also help pave a smooth road toward success.
The Jacksonville Jaguars don’t have the presence of Calais Campbell or Paul Posluszny in the locker room anymore to help the transition for rookies and new veterans inside TIAA Bank Field.
Marrone remains optimistic that the players on the roster will continue to pick up the game plan and execute it as they get more reps on the practice field. The team has used a split-squad approach to helping the roster get acclimated as much as possible.