JACKSONVILLE – Eight Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – are breaking down the Jaguars as the 2020 NFL season approaches; today's topic: Reasons to believe in the Jaguars entering 2020
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
Why I believe in the Jaguars in 2020: This is an incredibly young, athletic team with better character than previous teams – and hopefully, better leadership. There is potential for several breakout players on this team. If the scheme is right, many of those players could step forward.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
Why I believe in the Jaguars in 2020: I think they have greatly improved the roster. Mostly, they have improved team speed. Laviska Shenault Jr. makes the receiving corps faster; cornerback CJ Henderson and linebacker/defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson make the defense much faster. Is it physical enough? We'll see. But I like the speed and athleticism of the defense. I also really like what I think quarterback Gardner Minshew II will be. The best NFL teams have good quarterback play and fast, physical defenses. Be good at quarterback, be fast on defense and your team is pretty good. The Jags can be that.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
Why I believe in the Jaguars in 2020: I believe in the Jaguars in 2020 because of the re-designed operations of coaching and scouting. Head Coach Doug Marrone and General Manager Dave Caldwell changed the level of communication between scouting and coaching, getting everyone on the same page. This is something that surprisingly did not happen before. The only way that any organization has a chance to succeed is if everyone is pulling in the same direction and the Jaguars have a chance.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
Why I believe in the Jaguars in 2020: Because their roster is a lot better than people think. The Jaguars improved their offense and now have an offensive line that has played together for a couple of years. They have a quarterback that has shown he can make plays and win games in the final couple of minutes. While the defense is not full of household names, I do think the Jaguars will be way better fundamentally on defense and give their offense a chance. The biggest reason I believe in the 2020 Jags is because they should be hungry. Left tackle Cam Robinson, running back Leonard Fournette, wide receiver Dede Westbrook and others are playing in contract years. Minshew is playing for his future and you could say defensive tackle Taven Bryan and safety Ronnie Harrison are doing the same. I like the edge this football team will have, and it will turn into some wins that people don't expect the Jaguars to get.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
Why I believe in the Jaguars in 2020: The Jaguars will have to overcome some issues in 2020 – a young roster chief among them – but two reasons stand out that may enable them to do that. One is Minshew and the other is what should be an improved run defense. Minshew's clutch gene will give the Jaguars a chance in close games, but an improved run defense may be just as much of a positive for the Jaguars. The Jaguars' struggles in this area were such that they were uncompetitive throughout much of a five-game losing streak that defined last season. If the Jaguars are even marginally better against the run, that will give Minshew and the offense a chance late in more games than was the case last season.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
Why I believe in the Jaguars in 2020: I think the Jaguars will be solid on both sides of the ball. It's hard to imagine Minshew and the offense won't be more capable this fall with offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo onboard – plus more weapons such as Shenault, tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Chris Thompson. The defense isn't as star-studded as it was a few years back, but it's talented with size and depth up front. When Marrone first took over as head coach in 2017, his team protected the football and didn't kill itself with untimely penalties. Everything I've heard from Marrone since January tells me this is his focus in 2020 – not beating themselves and giving them a chance to stay in the game and find a way to win in the fourth quarter. I think this team fits that style of play.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
Why I believe in the Jaguars in 2020: The Jaguars have young stars to not only build around for the future, but who can make plays happen now. Defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen could be a big-time player for a long time in this league. Wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. can make big plays and is a deep threat. Minshew showed rarely seen moxie in his rookie season. In a contract year, Fournette has millions of reasons to play and repeat or exceed last season's performance. There are players on this team, and if they get it together early, they could defy the outside odds and expectations.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
Why I believe in the Jaguars in 2020: The defensive line could be at the 2017 level. It is looking like Yannick Ngakoue will remain a Jaguar for the 2020 season. Pair him with Allen and Chaisson, you have a lethal pass rushing force. The defensive line is young and seem hungrier than ever. I think they will challenge the 2017 numbers: 55 sacks and 33 takeaways.