Carryover will allow Jacksonville Jaguars to keep ascending in 2023
The Jacksonville Jaguars turned heads last season when went into a five-game winning streak to win the AFC South and qualify for the playoffs. With the 2023 NFL Draft inching closer, Jeff Diamond of The 33rd Team wonders if the Jags can build on the success they had last year.
Diamond recently talked about every NFL team's biggest question entering the draft and wonders if Jacksonville can continue to ascend in 2023. He believes they will if Trevor Lawrence can become an upper-echelon quarterback.
"Coach Doug Pederson did a great job in his first season with the Jaguars, helping elevate the team and particularly quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who made a big leap in his second season. Lawrence went from 12 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions as a rookie to 25 touchdown passes and eight interceptions in 2022. He also ran for five scores. Lawrence was the top pick in the 2021 draft, and the big question in the AFC South is if Lawrence will ascend further to top-five quarterback status, as Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow did early in their careers."
Diamond then says that other AFC South teams have plenty of ground to make up while the Jaguars managed to trade for wide receiver Calvin Ridley and retain tight end Evan Engram.
The Jaguars went 2-6 in the first half of the 2022 season and seem on the brink of being disqualified for playoff contention. However, head coach Doug Pederson believed their season wasn't over despite how dire things looked. The Jags would win seven of their last nine games and later beat the Los Angeles Chargers in the Wild Card of the Playoffs.
In the end, the Jags defied all odds in 2022 but they're no longer underdogs and it's fair to wonder if they can capitalize on last year's achievements. The answer is yes.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have enough pieces to make noise in 2023
The Jaguars didn't make any splash signings in free agency. They instead focused on adding depth pieces to their defensive front and running back room. However, they already have playmakers at key positions, so they didn't have to acquire as much talent as they did last offseason. In fact, not making meaningful acquisitions in free agency seems like a smart move.
Last year was Doug Pederson's first at the helm and he managed to get everyone on the same track. Trevor Lawrence was one of many players that made a huge leap under his tutelage and that was while getting a hold of his system. The former Clemson Tiger will now have the chance to master it and a supporting cast stacked with playmakers should make it possible.
Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram all posted career numbers in their first season in Jacksonville. Calvin Ridley will be joining the group and although he'll eat up some of their targets, he will also draw coverage away from his teammates, which should allow them to face more favorable matchups. Having said that, the Jags do have room for improvement.
Their defense ranked 12th in points allowed last season but they were stretches in which they couldn't stop opposing offenses. Similarly, they pressured the quarterback at a high rate but weren't able to finish plays and tallied just 35 sacks, good for 26th in the league. Then again, 2022 was also defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell's first year on the job, and should have a better grasp of it and his personnel in Year 2, which should lead to a better performance on the field.
On top of that, the Jaguars will be a position to bolster several position groups in the draft. If they manage to bolster a handful of position groups, they should be able to pick up where they left off last year and maybe advance to the AFC Championship.