JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 28-14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the 2020 regular-season finale and the game's aftermath …
1.Change is in the air. This was true before this past weekend, with General Manager David Caldwell having been dismissed in late November. It continued Monday, with Jaguars Owner Shad Khan announcing that Doug Marrone no longer will be the franchise's head coach. It's about the future around the Jaguars now.
2.The Jaguars will select No. 1 overall … We actually learned this in Week 16, but it's well worth repeating. The Jaguars, after finishing 1-15, enter the offseason holding the No. 1 overall selection in the draft for the first time in franchise history. "We have the ability to make a choice – and it's going to define the franchise moving forward," Jaguars Owner Shad Khan said Monday.
3. … and it is almost certain that that selection will be a quarterback. Khan didn't guarantee the Jaguars will select the position No. 1 overall, but everything in his quotes indicated as much. "Developing a young quarterback, we've been very unsuccessful at that," he said. "The last eight years, we haven't had a franchise quarterback. I think that is very important."
4.These are coveted positions. The Jaguars' general manager and head-coaching positions are two of the best such jobs in this hiring cycle. Khan said Monday there is a "huge amount of interest" in the positions. "We're going to take our time to make sure we've looked far and wide at really a variety of candidates," he said.
5.Urban Meyer is among the candidates … The former Florida and Ohio State Head Coach reportedly is among multiple candidates for the head-coaching position. Other reported head-coach candidates: Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett, Atlanta Falcons Interim Head Coach Raheem Morris, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.
6. … and the general-manager search is ongoing. Reported candidates: ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, former Cleveland Browns General Manager Ray Farmer, former New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese, Jaguars Interim General Manager Trent Baalke, New Orleans Saints vice president/assistant general manager of pro personnel Terry Fontenot, former Houston Texans General Manager Rick Smith.
7.The assistants remain under contract. All Jaguars assistants remain under contract despite Marrone's departure. This is standard in the NFL, with the idea being to allow the incoming head coach an opportunity to hire/keep any assistants he may want.
8.The losing streak remained historic. The Jaguars finished the season with a franchise-record 15 consecutive losses, two games longer than the previous longest such streak.
9.The defensive interior will be a major focus of the offseason. This became increasingly obvious as the season continued, but it was reinforced in the season finale. Yes, quarterback is the major issue and appears likely to be addressed at No. 1 overall. But a defensive interior that lacked depth and stoutness all season lacked it again against the Colts, allowing a season-high 273 yards – including 253 by rookie Jonathan Taylor. It was the fourth time this season the Jaguars allowed 200 or more yards rushing in a game, and the inability to stop the run led to multiple one-sided losses throughout the final six weeks.
10.Injuries mattered. The Jaguars were outmanned at some key positions throughout the season, particularly defensive tackle. But injuries caused more one-sided losses as the season continued. That was particularly true on defense, where middle linebacker Joe Schobert was the only player to start all 16 games.
11.Laviska Shenault Jr. is promising. The second-round wide receiver isn't the only promising player in the rookie class. Free-agent rookie James Robinson established himself as a likely core player moving forward with 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns, and cornerback C.J. Henderson showed promise despite some inconsistences in an injury-shorted rookie season. But Shenault ended the season as perhaps the most promising of the Jaguars' 12 2020 draft selections. Four of his five touchdown receptions came in the final five games, and his two touchdowns in the season finale were his season high.
12.The pass rush remained an issue. Some of this could be attributed to the struggles of the run defense. It's difficult to pass rush when opposing teams are always in positive down-and-distance situations. Still, the Jaguars pass rush must improve. The team didn't register a sack in the season finale, finishing with 18 sacks – 31st in the NFL.
13.Tight end must improve. This has been a Jaguars issue for years and remains so. Jaguars tight ends caught three passes for 29 yards Sunday and finished with 68 receptions for 637 yards and two touchdowns for the season.
14.The season is over. On to the offseason. It will be busy. Stay tuned.