Jacksonville Jaguars cannot justify missing the playoffs in 2024

• The Jaguars made several changes to the roster and the coaching staff. That's why missing the playoffs in 2024 isn't an opion.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) and head coach Doug Pederson at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) and head coach Doug Pederson at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA

Head coach Doug Pederson isn't in danger of losing his job anytime soon. However, the NFL landscape is consistently changing, and if the Jacksonville Jaguars fail to bounce back after an underwhelming end in 2023, Pederson's seat should get considerably hotter. After all, the Jags made upgrades to both the coaching staff and the roster in the offseason. That's why he and general manager Trent Baalke should be under pressure to deliver next season.

Bradley Locker of Pro Football Focus drew up a list of clubs who are under pressure to deliver and included Jacksonville, noting that they cannot justify failing to improve after going into spending spree in the offseason.

"Jacksonville spent the most money in free agency this offseason — over $312 million, per Over the Cap — and now has a franchise quarterback secured. The onus falls on Lawrence, Doug Pederson and Trent Baalke to make a leap after a disappointing and confusing 2023."

Even though the team's brass didn't make any splash signings, they were afraid to spend in free agency to get better. Signing defensive tackle Arik Armstead to a three-year deal worth $43.2 million was the Jags' biggest move but they also locked up defensive backs Darnell Savage, center Mitch Morse, and cornerback Ronald Darby. On top of that, they handed out contracts to Ezra Cleveland, Trevor Lawrence, and Josh Allen.

Regarding the coaching staff, Jacksonville dismissed most of the defensive assistants and moved on from defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell. To replace him, they hired Ryan Nielsen, who had success in the same position for the Atlanta Falcons last year.

Simply put, the Jaguars did enough moves to put themselves in a position to compete for a playoff berth. Anything less in 2024 should be considered a disappointment.

What are the expectations surrounding the Jaguars in 2024?

The Jacksonville Jaguars made the playoffs and won the AFC South in Doug Pederson's first year at the helm. This is more impressive when you take into account that they were coming off the Urban Meyer debacle and had won a combined 15 games the four seasons prior. Not surprisingly, the Jags entered 2023 with high expectations. Early on, it looked like they were going to live up to them. Unfortunately, they came crashing down.

After a promising 8-3 start, injuries exposed the roster's lack of depth and overall talent. The Jags ended up winning just one of their last six games. But even then, they had a chance to make the postseason and win the division. All they had to do was beat the Tennessee Titans and they were in. They fell flat. On the bright side, the disappointing end to the season led the organization to operate with a sense of urgency.

It's fair to say that after all the changes the Jaguars made in the offseason, they're in much better shape than they were at the end of 2023 or even at the same point last year. On the other hand, they enter 2024 under pressure to deliver.

Granted, Jacksonville is flying under the radar ahead of 2024 precisely because they failed to make the playoffs. However, head coach Doug Pederson has previously shown that he can win. If he and Trent Baalke cannot get it done after all the moves they made, owner Shad Khan should seriously consider making changes.

Working in their favor is that Khan is one of the most patient owners in the NFL, and he's known for not making impulsive decisions. Still, he won't probably be pleased if the Jaguars miss the playoffs for the second straight year.

The truth is that the Jaguars should be in a position to regain control of the AFC South next season. Then again, it looked like they were close to winning the division title last year before they fell apart. That's why a scenario in which they fall short of expectations shouldn't be ruled out, even if signs point toward Jacksonville bouncing back.

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