Jacksonville Jaguars: Offense can thrive without WR Julio Jones

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones #11 (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones #11 (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) /

There’s no doubt Julio Jones is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL even at age 32. The All-Pro has already made it clear he doesn’t want to play for the Atlanta Falcons anymore and whatever team ends up trading for him will get a playmaker. However, the Jacksonville Jaguars have spent the offseason bolstering their offense and there is no room for Jones in it.

The Jags ranked 31st in points scored last year. Among the many reasons they couldn’t score many points was the lack of a competent quarterback. They took care of that this offseason when they took Trevor Lawrence with the top pick in this year’s draft. While it remains to be seen how good the Clemson product will be in the pros, he will be an upgrade over all the quarterbacks that took snaps in Jacksonville last season.

Make no mistake, the Jaguars earned the right to draft Lawrence because they were the worst team in the NFL in 2020. Nevertheless, they aren’t fully devoid of talent and their wide receiver corps is among the best in the league. DJ Chark Jr. has previously made the Pro Bowl and Marvin Jones Jr. has scored 32 touchdowns over the last four years. Moreover, Laviska Shenault Jr. and Collin Johnson showed flashes last season and either one could have a breakout season in 2021.

Jones is better than any of the wide receivers on the Jaguars’ roster but the Jaguars already built a well-rounded unit. Why should they trade the bird at hand for two in a bush? How much better would Jones make the Jags? As great as he is, he isn’t going to suddenly turn the team into a perennial contender. Jacksonville is in the early stages of a rebuild and Jones wouldn’t add much to the team.

What about the rest of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offense?

It’s not just the wide receiver corps though. The Jaguars have done a good job of giving Lawrence as much help as they can and the running game will take some pressure off his shoulders. The Jaguars signed veteran Carlos Hyde and drafted Travis Etienne 25th overall in this year’s selection meeting.

Furthermore, sophomore James Robinson will still have a heavy role in the team’s game plan. Although the running game doesn’t have the kind of impact it had 20 or 30 years ago, it is still an important part of any team’s offense. Heading into the 2021 season, the Jags have one of the best running back units in the NFL.

This is not to say the Jaguars’ offense is flawless. Jacksonville brought all their offensive line starters from 2020. The team’s brass expects the unit to improve after allowing 44 sacks last season. While the interior of their offensive line looks solid, left tackle Cam Robinson and right tackle Jawaan Taylor need to be more consistent. If either one of them struggles, rookie offensive tackle Walker Little should be ready to take their place.

Jacksonville could also do something about the tight end position. Tim Tebow is garnering positive reviews from his teammates, but they need someone who can contribute in the passing game. Right now, that player isn’t on the roster. Chris Manhertz is an outstanding blocker but he’s far from a deep threat. The team also re-signed James O’Shaugnessy but he’s better suited in the backup role.

Even though the Jaguars’ offense is far from perfect, Julio Jones is an unnecessary luxury. If he decided he wants to play tight end, there may be a roster spot for him. Until then, the Jags should pass up.

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