JACKSONVILLE – Nine Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – examine the coming months and issues facing the team:
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
What the Jaguars must do offensively in the offseason: Draft a quarterback, which raises the question: Do you mortgage the future to move up for Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins? The asking price will include the Jaguars’ 2020 first-round selection as well as other selections. Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin could also draft the best offensive player available and look for a veteran quarterback. Offensive line, running back, wide receiver and tight end all must be upgraded. Do you fix those positions or sacrifice it all to draft a quarterback? Many believe there isn’t a franchise quarterback available, but this organization can’t allow another Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes to escape them.
What the Jaguars must do defensively in the offseason: As long as cornerback Jalen Ramsey doesn’t hold out, this should be encouraging. The Jaguars remain one of the NFL’s top defenses. Defensive end Calais Campbell’s return is huge in so many ways. Will this organization trade Telvin Smith and move Myles Jack to weak-side linebacker? If so, a middle linebacker becomes a priority. Will Taven Bryan take a step forward at the three technique? As long as Ramsey is happy and in camp, expect another huge year for the Jaguars’ defense.
Offseason key: The culture will be addressed. Will the Jags move running back Leonard Fournette? If so, they likely will get little in return. The Jaguars will also need leadership on offense, which becomes a tough task in free agency. Is there a Campbell-type of guy available? Who are the Jaguars’ offensive leaders and playmakers? Many questions face the Jaguars this offseason, but quarterback never has been more important.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
What the Jaguars must do offensively in the offseason: The No. 1 issue is stability at quarterback. The Jaguars need to find a veteran quarterback in free agency - i.e., Nick Foles or Joe Flacco – and draft one in the first two rounds, preferably the first if the value is there. Next, they must clean up the mess at running back. Between the dysfunction and lack of production, this was perhaps the team’s most disappointing position. The big question: Will the Jaguars move on from Fournette and start over at the position or see if the new running backs coach can get more out of him?
What the Jaguars must do defensively in the offseason: This unit was much better than it got credit for in 2018, finishing fifth in yards allowed and fourth in points allowed. The frustrating thing about this unit was it allowed a few late-game drives that led to points, which were the difference in winning and losing. With one more late-game stop in a few games, the Jaguars could have had two-to-three more victories. Overall, I thought coordinator Todd Wash did a good job. Look for the Jaguars to move on from tackle Malik Jackson, try to restructure tackle Marcell Dareus and begin 2019 with two new safeties.
Offseason key: The offseason focus will be quarterback, releasing some familiar faces to fix the cap issues and who will be calling plays for the offense.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
What the Jaguars must do offensively in the off-season: Essentially, blow up the whole thing – almost, anyway. First, the Jaguars must determine, philosophically, what they want to be. Do they implement run-pass options? More tempo? What is the scheme? Then, they must find the right coordinator. I think they should find a veteran quarterback, because I think the defense is built and they can win now with the right veteran. I would keep Fournette rather than trade him, but he must mature. And they must find playmakers -- receivers, tight ends. That should be a major priority.
What the Jaguars must do defensively in the offseason: For the most part, keep their own. If they can keep Campbell and Dareus, and possibly safety Tashaun Gibson, everything else is in place. If they add a player or two, maybe tweak the scheme to allow more man coverage and blitzing, they are set.
Offseason key: Two things. They must improve the culture -- less entitlement, more of a commitment to team. And they must rebuild the offense – almost from scratch. With a better culture – and a way better offense – the Jaguars will be much improved.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
What the Jaguars must do offensively in the offseason: Finding more playmakers is the first step, and that starts with improving execution at quarterback so playmakers can show their abilities. Getting current players healthy also is paramount.
What the Jaguars must do defensively this offseason: The cap issue must be addressed, and key players such as Campbell must be identified and retained.
Offseason key: Establishing the culture must be prevalent for the franchise to be successful. Individuals who will not be part of the needed culture must be removed from the equation. Some individuals must be guided to understand the expectations and be given an opportunity to be a part of the solution.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
What the Jaguars must do offensively in the offseason: The Jaguars have a lot to fix offensively. They have three spots solidified on the offensive line in tackle Cam Robinson, guard Andrew Norwell and center Brandon Linder – but that's it. Will they keep tackle Jermey Parnell? How will they replace guard A.J. Cann in addition to adding/keeping depth? Maybe I should have started with at quarterback, which will be overhauled with a bridge quarterback and a first or second-round selection in April. How much they invest in the bridge quarterback will indicate where they will draft a quarterback. I think Fournette will be here, but the Jaguars need backfield depth. Regardless of what they do at quarterback, they must add offensive weapons. Wide receiver Marqise Lee will return, but a playmaker at wide receiver and tight end is vital for this franchise. It's not just the quarterback in the 2019 offseason.
What the Jaguars must do defensively in the offseason: The Jaguars’ ability to fix things quickly is because the defensive core remains strong. Campbell is coming back. Jackson will be gone and I'm fifty-fifty on Dareus. Still, end Yannick Ngakoue, linebackers Smith and Jack, cornerbacks Ramsey and A.J. Bouye and safety Ronnie Harrison … that's a nice core defense. Wash must add more exotic play calls; the scheme works, but it also looks like the secondary gets bored sometimes and loses focus. The more they mix things up, the less that will happen. Wash also must figure out how to stop running quarterbacks; that has been a killer the last two years.
Offseason key: The Jaguars must nail three positions in the offseason. If I give this team an above-average quarterback, a playmaker at wide receiver and a playmaker at tight end, I think Jacksonville will be excited about the Jaguars’ prospects next season. It's the NFL; people make plays on offense. The Jaguars hardly made a play on offense the entire season. That's unacceptable and must change.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
What the Jaguars must do offensively in the offseason: Injuries waylaid this offense around Week 5 and made it increasingly difficult to function as the season wore on. But there still is a lot of work to do in the coming months – with wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, quarterback and running back all possible priorities. The top priority is quarterback, of course. The guess here is the Jaguars draft the best available in the first round and sign a “bridge” veteran.
What the Jaguars must do defensively in the offseason: The “demise” of the Jaguars’ defense in 2018 was greatly exaggerated. This was still a Top 10 unit capable of winning – with just a bit more help from the offseason. The Jaguars must make some decisions at linebacker, safety and defensive line. The early positive news is the return of Campbell. He played too well down the stretch to allow him to leave.
Offseason key: The focus will be quarterback because of the importance of the position, but as intriguing may be what the Jaguars do with players such as Gipson, Dareus and Parnell. All are worthy. All are pricey. The guess here is the Jaguars bring a lot of “core” defensive players back and try to make a run at the postseason with a healthier offense (with a change at quarterback). The work ahead isn’t undoable, but it’s difficult.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
What the Jaguars must do offensively in the offseason: Quarterback is the obvious answer, and obviously they must get both a veteran and a rookie. No position is as important as quarterback, but with the ground game the stated identity, the Jaguars must rethink their approach. Fournette looks like a major bust thanks to his me-first approach this season – and the offensive line wasn't performing at a high-enough level even when Norwell and Linder were healthy. The offense finished 27th in yards and 31st in points, so outside of a few players no one should be immune to criticism or cutting.
What the Jaguars must do defensively in the offseason: The defense is going to have to sacrifice for the offense this offseason, though some of the players would quietly tell you that's what they did all season. The Jaguars’ ability to rebuild the offense will depend on their ability to create salary-cap room from the highly-paid defenders. That side of the ball is very talented, though it didn't make the sort of game-changing plays in 2018 that it did in 2017. The defense will have to do without a few guys, but they have more than enough talent to stay among the better defenses in football.
Offseason key: The Jaguars must be careful and clever with the cap this spring. They could restructure a number of veteran players, pushing salary into future seasons for guys who might not make it that far. Or they could ask guys to take a pay cut and create opportunities via incentivized contracts. Or they could let guys with oversized contracts and undersized production walk and replace them. Most guys won't willingly accept less money than they think they're worth, and they all think they're worth more than they are. The Jaguars must have a REALISTIC view of who and what they are at this point and not make the same mistakes that were made in 2008 when then-General Manager James Harris felt they were a player or two away. They must be smart, calculated and objective – and not take unwise actions that they'll pay for in the years ahead. Every move needs to be made with the macro in mind and not the micro.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
What the Jaguars must do offensively in the offseason: Hire an offensive coordinator. Get a quarterback. Find another playmaker on offense. Figure out running back. Get healthy on the offensive line. Figure out how to consistently put up points. That’s a lot in one offseason, but that’s where things are.
What the Jaguars must do defensively in the offseason: Figure out who stays on the defensive line – and have the young players continue to develop. Find more depth at the linebacker positions. Figure out the safety positions and find depth there. Find a way to get back to that game-wrecking, play-making defense of 2017.
Offseason key: What is the mentality and makeup of this team? Figure out what this organization should look and feel like and get rid of players who do not meet that expectation. Build around players that personify what you want the organization to be. Set the mark, enforce it, and get back to playing winning football. Oh, and find a quarterback.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
What the Jaguars must do offensively in the offseason: No one wants to hear the injury excuse, but the Jaguars ended the 2018 season with zero Week 1 starters on the offensive line and had limited play-making options nearly all season due to injury. The Jaguars have a lot of work to do offensively. Not only do they need to address quarterback, running back, tight end and wide receiver, they need to add depth to all positions so if injuries hit hard again in 2019, a 5-11 season won’t be the result.
What the Jaguars must do defensively in the offseason: The defense pulled its together in the second half of the season. Despite a poor performance against running back Derrick Henry and the Titans Week 13, this defense played like a top 10 unit. The biggest thing the Jaguars need to decide is what they will be doing on the defensive line. Campbell confirmed he will return next season. Now, the Jaguars will decide if they will keep Dareus to stop the run despite his major cap hit.
Offseason key: Culture must be key in 2019. Handling the issues Fournette has presented will be important. Do you cut him or ask him to grow up and give him a second chance? Head Coach Doug Marrone already has said he wants full participation in offseason programs. We will see if Marrone can set the tone and have players respond to the changes that will come next season.