Skip to main content

Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

What to Watch: 10 Things, The Offseason


JACKSONVILLE – For now, it's all about the coordinator.

Before we can talk too, too much about quarterback Blake Bortles' offseason, the offseason of the offensive line or what lies ahead for General Manager David Caldwell in the coming months, we must first learn the Jaguars' offensive direction.

For now, that's unknown.

Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley parted ways with offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch last Tuesday. Speaking to the media immediately afterward, Bradley said there was no hard, fast timeframe on hiring a coordinator, adding, "When we find the right guy it'll be time."

Through the weekend there were no public reports regarding the coordinator, so while there are names being mentioned by observers and fans, they remain reports, observation and speculation.

Bradley has a big decision in front of him, and publicly quiet doesn't mean he's not working the situation. The Jaguars' coaching staff is off this week and will return next week to begin preparing to coach the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, the following week. Bradley could begin reaching out to candidates before then.

Jaguars players, meanwhile, are off until the team's voluntary offseason conditioning program begins in mid-April. Players are allowed to work out at the team's facility, but can have no football-related conversations with coaches.

The offseason indeed is upon us, and here are 10 things the Jaguars must do as the 2015 offseason begins …

1.Hire a coordinator.Bradley indicated little last week about possible direction – only that he would prefer a coordinator with NFL experience. That didn't necessarily mean NFL play-calling, coordinator or head-coaching experience, so it leaves the field pretty wide open.

2.Improve Blake Bortles' fundamentals.The rookie quarterback discussed this in detail the day after the regular season, and said a couple of things that stood out. One was while he could see on film during the season what he was doing wrong – and while he knew how to fix it – there wasn't time in the season to put in the work required for a new approach to become muscle memory. He said this pretty much without prompting, so it stands to reason it will be an offseason priority. The second is that he felt he became more consistent in his techniques last season compared to college after working on the areas last offseason. It appears Bortles knows what he needs to do to improve and has the capability of improving. Now, the task is to do it.

3.Learn Justin Blackmon's status.This will take care of itself. Caldwell said he hopes to learn from the league the suspended wide receiver's status by the April 30 NFL Draft. The Jaguars' stance regarding Blackmon remains the same – that they are treating a possible return as a luxury – but, oh, what a luxury that would be.

4.Draft an impact player. The early, early guess here remains that the Jaguars will lean toward defensive front/pass rusher in the 2015 NFL Draft. That's counterintuitive to some who want the Jaguars to go all-offense-all-the-time, but you draft for the next four or five seasons and focus on the foundation of the team while doing it. Whatever the direction, the Jaguars need franchise-defining players. They're easier to get the higher you draft and the Jaguars don't want to have the No. 3 selection again for a while. They need to take advantage of it now.

5.Get bigger, get stronger.This is a lot about left tackle Luke Joeckel, and everyone from Joeckel to Caldwell said it will be a priority as the former No. 2 overall selection prepares for his third NFL season. He'll get the full offseason he didn't get in 2014 because of an ankle injury, and it's no secret he must take advantage of it. But center Luke Bowanko must improve strength and stoutness entering his second season, too – and so must the entire offensive line. That doesn't start today, but it starts soon.

6.Determine offensive line direction.Bradley said at his season-ending media availability Tuesday the Jaguars will continue to run a zone-blocking based scheme because the linemen were drafted/acquired to play the scheme. Bradley also said offensive line coach George Yarno plans to return next season – possibly as early February – after missing this past season while undergoing cancer treatments. Bradley said his preference is to maintain offensive assistants, but the offensive coordinator will ultimately decide that.

7.Solidify special teams.The Jaguars' special teams struggled much of the season, with three blocked field goals and two blocked punts. That's too many. Way too many. But Bradley talked late in the season about having made special teams coordinator Mike Mallory's job difficult by moving "core-four" special teams specialists off special teams by releasing them or moving them into starting roles. Look for at least a few players – more than last season – to be core special teams players next season.

8.Address tight end … Veteran Marcedes Lewis remains under contract, and Caldwell said last week the Jaguars wanted to retain him. Still, a pass-receiving threat at the position could be a free-agency priority.

8(a). … and right tackle …Caldwell last week said the offensive line must be addressed in the offseason, and said the Jaguars feel good about left tackle, center and right guard. He also said left guard Zane Beadles improved in the second half of the season. That leaves right tackle. Whether this is a free-agent or draft priority could depend on free-agent availability.

8(b). …and free safety …Josh Evans played well at times this season and struggled at others. Free-agency could be the route here – again, depending on the market.

8(c). … and outside linebacker/Otto.The Jaguars signed Dekoda Watson to play this position last offseason. They released him midway through the season. J.T. Thomas played well at the position for a time and Geno Hayes did the same moving from the weak side late in the season, but this could be an offseason focus.

9.Determine fates.Cornerback Alan Ball, wide receiver Cecil Shorts III, linebacker Geno Hayes, defensive end Tyson Alualu all are scheduled to become free agents at the start of the new league year. All said following the regular season they would like to return, and Caldwell said he told Alualu following the season the team wanted him to return. He was not as specific about the others.

10. Grow up.If there was an overriding theme this past season it was the overwhelming youth on offense – with at least six rookies and three more second-year veterans starting or playing extensive roles. If there was another theme, it was that players take a significant jump from Year One to Year Two, so the Jaguars expect significant improvement from a lot of players. That jump must start in the coming months. The Jaguars – particularly offensively – still will be young next season. They also have to be better.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content