JACKSONVILLE – Here's What We Learned about the Jaguars this week during the 2015 NFL Annual Meeting at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona
1.The view is changing.We've harped on this a lot this week, but this is a big one – and one Jaguars fans have awaited a while: the NFL is seeing the Jaguars differently. This isn't about the national media seeing them differently as much as it's about NFL people seeing the franchise taking significant steps under the leadership and direction of Owner Shad Khan and President Mark Lamping. That's important, and it's a big change from three or four years ago.
2.Los Angeles is no longer a "thing."This goes in lockstep with the change in perception. Other franchises see the Jaguars stabilizing and see the franchise taking significant steps to upgrade the fan experience and strengthening local revenue. As a result, when NFL folks talk of Los Angeles – and that pretty much was THE talk at the league meetings – they no longer talk of the Jaguars.
3.London relocation isn't a thing, either …The Jaguars aren't moving to London, either. That actually has been known a while, and that remains true.
4. … but London is a thing.Let there be no mistake: London matters to this franchise, and that was evident again this week. It's important for local revenue, and Khan wants to continue to build the team's fan base in Jacksonville, regionally and in London. Khan has said he wants to continue playing a home game there each season when the current four-year London commitment expires. There's no reason to think the league won't allow that to happen. That's it. That's the plan. So far, it's working and the franchise is stabilizing.
5.The stability is by design."It's no accident," Khan said Tuesday when discussing the Jaguars' absence from the Los Angeles conversation. That was the easy choice for the Jaguars' quote of the week from Arizona. This from Khan was right up there, too: "Finally, people see what you're doing and actions are speaking louder than words. You have to go about your business and the talk catches up with reality."
6.The Jaguars' roster is better now than the past two offseasons.If there was a takeaway from listening to Head Coach Gus Bradley and General Manager David Caldwell at the league meetings, that was it. The last two offseasons were about building the foundation of the roster. This year, the Jaguars made major moves in free agency for at least three starters and possibly six. This is a more talented team than it was entering the last two seasons. "Now, it's meshing that together and building consistency and taking it from there," Bradley said.
7.The Jaguars are going digital.The league announced this week that the game at Wembley Stadium against the Buffalo Bills October 25 will be distributed over a digital platform worldwide in addition to being carried on over-the-air television stations in Jacksonville and Buffalo. That will be the first time the NFL distributes a game by a means other than television. "That exposure means a lot to the Jaguars and Jacksonville," Khan said. "I'm hoping it will be free for people watching it and we get the exposure and create new fans."
8.Fowler's still the consensus. Linebacker/pass rusher Dante Fowler, Jr., of Florida has been the consensus choice for the Jaguars at No. 3 for those mocking the 2015 NFL Draft, and there wasn't much buzz to the contrary at the owners meetings. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, Jr., said on a conference call Thursday he expected Fowler to be the Jaguars' selection at No. 3. What does pre-draft buzz mean? Not much, but that's this offseason's buzz.
9.A trade is a real possibility.Caldwell talked a lot this week about a trade possibility at No. 3, saying while there hasn't been much in the way of specific discussions, the circumstance of this year's draft could allow the Jaguars to trade out of the No. 3 spot. Caldwell had trade options at No. 3 last year but didn't want to miss the chance to take quarterback Blake Bortles. This year, Caldwell may be more open to it. Stay tuned.
10.A Western feel.The Jaguars have been installing their new offense since the arrival of Greg Olson as offensive coordinator in January. Bradley said this week there West Coast elements, adding that the line will incorporate both zone- and gap-blocking run schemes. Look for the Jaguars to lean toward zone or gap based on player strengths.
11.Complex … yet simple.Bradley said while Olson's scheme may require players to learn more initially when it comes to protections, the scheme will be simpler week-to-week compared to the past two seasons under coordinator Jedd Fisch. "After you go through it and see what they do well, you can pare it down but you have that ability to be flexible," Bradley said.
12.The addition of Bernard Pierce is no afterthought.Pierce, a running back acquired off waivers from Baltimore on March 19, has a chance to contribute as a front-line player. "Otherwise we wouldn't have claimed him," Caldwell said.
13. The Jaguars indeed wanted DeMarco Murray …Caldwell said the team indeed pursued the former Dallas Cowboys running back in the early days of free agency early this month, saying that if the Jaguars had been Murray's first choice the sides likely would have figured out a way to get a deal done.
14. … but there was a limit.Caldwell said reading between the lines it was evident the Jaguars weren't Murray's first choice and the team got out of the serious negotiations pretty quickly. Caldwell said the Jaguars' final offer to Murray was at least $2 million a year less than what he reportedly received to sign with Philadelphia. "We were serious about it, and we were probably the second-best offer they had," Caldwell said. …