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Quick Thoughts: Training Camp 2020

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Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) is seen during an NFL football workout, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (Logan Bowles via AP)

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser and senior correspondent Brian Sexton both offer three quick thoughts on the Jaguars as 2020 Training Camp continues …

Oehser …

1.Allen is the future – and that's good. We'll address the overriding early storyline of Jaguars 2020 Training Camp – a slew of losses on the interior defensive line – in the next entry, but we start this Quick Thoughts with the most important development around the Jaguars in recent months: that second-year defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen is emerging as the franchise's foundation for the future. We ideally would be saying this about Gardner Minshew II because a quarterback ideally is a franchise's best player/foundation. Minshew isn't there yet. The thought here is Allen very much is there. Coaches have raved about his physical condition entering camp, and it's clear from listening to coaches and teammates he is embracing a role as team leader. He's everything you want in a young elite player – Pro Bowl ability, humble leadership, exemplary work ethic, a team-first approach. The Jaguars have waited a long time – too long – for a Top 10 selection to live up to his draft status and become the core of the franchise. Every indication from Allen is that wait is coming to an end.

2.Oliver may be the toughest early loss. Much of the focus of observers and fans early in camp has been on defensive tackle – and with reason, because losing Al Woods (COVID-19 opt-out) and Rodney Gunter (retirement) has left the position alarmingly thin. But signing Timmy Jernigan – along with the presence of DaVon Hamilton, Abry Jones and Taven Bryan – means the Jaguars still can make the needed improvement in run defense. But losing second-year tight end Josh Oliver to a foot injury could hurt as much. Oliver had reported in outstanding shape; the team had high hopes he would make strides this season toward being the receiving tight end threat the team hasn't had in too long. The Jaguars have options here. Free-agent Tyler Eifert has looked good early, and it's a good sign that James O'Shaughnessy has practiced most days since being activated from the physically unable to perform list early in training camp. But Oliver is a young player with game-breaking potential and coaches believed this would be his breakout year. Losing him is a blow to an offense that wants to depend heavily on the tight end under new coordinator Jay Gruden.

3.Minshew is showing good things in camp. You can't talk Jaguars early in this camp without talking Minshew, and here's the early report on him: He's doing everything you want from a young quarterback entering his first season as a full-time starter. His leadership is unquestioned; he carries himself with the confidence of a veteran comfortable in the role. He also has shown the same accuracy on deep touch passes that he showed last season. Perhaps the best early sign regarding Minshew came when wide receiver Chris Conley during a Sunday media availability praised Minshew's decision-making and willingness to make throws into less-obvious situations than he did last season. The ability to make such throws and not check down to obvious reads is a good sign of a young quarterback developing confidence. That's the sort of thing you look for when trying to figure out if Minshew can do what the team needs – which is to develop into a player around whom the franchise can build.

Sexton…

1.Don't worry about the defensive line. It seems to be a problem with Woods opting out, Gunter's heart ailment, Dontavius Russell's injury and Aaron Lynch's retirement. But let's be honest: they were stop gap guys for a team tight against the salary cap. Though they were very high on Gunter, we're not talking about Marcell Dareus or Malik Jackson. Bryan, Jones and Hamilton are locks to be three of four or five defensive tackles to make the roster. That leaves a spot or two. Jernigan has some work to do to get into playing shape, but if he pulls it together between now and September 5, he's a better player than Woods, Gunter, or Russell. They'll find the fifth guy on the roster or from someone else's. They have more than three weeks to figure it out. Plus, I think middle linebacker Joe Schobert's presence may have as big an impact on the run defense as any of the departed tackles.

2.Gotta give it to Gardner. My old broadcast partner Matt Robinson had a word to describe quarterbacks who overcame arm strength issues with their minds. He called them "crafty," which is the best way to describe Minshew in the first two weeks of camp. He has such a grasp of the offense in particular – and the game in general – that he anticipates receivers' or defenders' movements and leads them with his eyes or a flick of his wrist. He has looked good physically, showing nice touch on the deep ball and accuracy all over the field – but he doesn't have a rocket for a right arm, and you can't build one in the weight room. However, if you're "crafty" you can dictate some of the action with your intellect and your instincts. He looks like he understands how to do just that. He has been impressive so far this training camp.

3.Bartch has something. A fair expectation for offensive lineman Ben Bartch is to give him this year to acclimate from Division III St. John's University to the NFL. It is after all, a really big jump. On Monday, the first day in full pads, he gave me a reason to pay attention to him this summer. He lined up against Jernigan in one-on-one pass drills and handled Jernigan with excellent footwork and even better hand position. I know that was Jernigan's first day on the field, but the technique from Bartch was on point and something you don't necessarily see from guys in their first camp – no matter the level of their college experience. There's a lot to like about this kid. Though we shouldn't expect to see it this year, it's nice to have a "jar on the shelf," which is to say a talented player who you can form your future around. You have to have young talent waiting in the wings. I think they've got a talented one in Bartch.

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