JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned about the Jaguars in the 2019 regular-season finale and in the days immediately after the season …
1.The leadership is staying. This trumps all other Jaguars news this week, with Owner Shad Khan on Tuesday announcing General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone will remain in those positions in 2020.
2.A repeat of 2019 won't be enough. Khan: "The 2019 season was unacceptable and I've made my dissatisfaction clear." Caldwell: "There has to be improvement. There are no ifs and or buts about that.''
3.Competing for a postseason berth next season will be the expectation. Khan also made this clear in the announcement.
4.Marrone and Caldwell report directly to Khan. The Jaguars' previous football structure was Marrone and Caldwell reporting to Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin with Coughlin reporting to Khan. Khan's statement Tuesday made clear Marrone and Coughlin will report directly to Khan with no EVP of Football Ops. "This structure here will allow us to communicate directly with the owner and be able to put our plan forward in a collaborated effort," Caldwell said.
5.Communication will be paramount. Caldwell and Marrone met with the media Tuesday after Khan's announcement, with a major takeaway that the personnel side of football operations will work more in sync with coaching than previously was the case. "We're talking about taking our coaching staff with our scouting staff and really putting it in a true, true partnership where we're meeting, talking and coming to decisions," Marrone said. "When we do that, things become clearer on exactly what the vision is that we want."
6.Yannick Ngakoue is a priority. This was perhaps the most notable news from the Caldwell/Marrone availability, with Caldwell saying of the veteran defensive end: "I would say that's Priority No. 1, to make sure that he comes back to Jacksonville and that he's a Jacksonville Jaguar. Hopefully, we can get that done where he's here for a long period of time."
7.Gardner Minshew II must be a factor at quarterback moving forward … Minshew had one of his best games against Indianapolis in the regular-season finale Sunday. He went 6-6 as a starter as a rookie, and he is clutch at big times. This is not to say he is the no-doubt, lock-it-down franchise guy, but he deserves a chance.
8. … and the future is uncertain for Nick Foles. Foles, who signed as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, entered the season as the starting quarterback but sustained a broken clavicle Week 1 and went 0-4 in four starts. "I don't know what my future holds," Foles said Monday. "I'm sure we'll find out in the next couple of months, but I'm not going to worry about it. I'm just going to continue being me."
9 … and players wanted Marrone to stay. Jaguars players clearly wanted Marrone to stay near season's end, with players speaking highly of him throughout the final two weeks. Khan met with multiple players one on one Monday, which he mentioned in his statement this week. Perhaps their feelings for Marrone played into Khan's decision. Either way, Sunday's performance was one of a team that believed in its coach.
10.Khan considered dismissing Coughlin significant change. The Jaguars went 11-21 the past two seasons, leaving many to wonder why stay with the same leadership. But Khan dismissed Coughlin on December 18 and made clear Tuesday he considered that a meaningful move. "We came out of our AFC Championship Game season of 2017 by making a four-year commitment to the collective leadership of our football operations," Khan said, referring to contract extensions for Coughlin, Marrone and Caldwell. "Only two seasons have passed and one change from that leadership team has already been made. I want to see what we produce under a new organizational structure in 2020. Goals have been established. Accountability will be paramount."
11.Jawaan Taylor is durable – and good. The right tackle started every game – and played every offensive snap – as a rookie. He also had a very good rookie season, and the team remains high on the second-round selection. He must clean up his game to reduce penalties, but his future is bright.
12.Josh Allen is tough – and good. Like Taylor, the defensive end played every game as a rookie. He played through a shoulder issue the last three games of the season, finishing with a franchise-rookie record 10.5 sacks. He is the foundation of the defense moving forward.
13.Josh Lambo is good – historically good. Kickers often get overlooked when discussing the NFL, but what Lambo accomplished this season deserves recognition. Lambo's 33 field goals broke the franchise record of 31 previously held by Mike Hollis (1997, 1999), and his 97.1 percentage (33 of 34) was the best in the NFL this season among kickers with 10 or more attempts.
14.The Jaguars have some major roster decisions to make. We didn't exactly learn this in the last few days, but it remains true. Key defensive players such as end Calais Campbell ($17.5 million), cornerback A.J. Bouye ($15.5 million) and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (22.5 million) have major salary cap figures for 2020 – and players such as wide receiver Marqise Lee ($8.75 million), center Brandon Linder ($8 million), guard Andrew Norwell ($14.5 million), linebacker Jake Ryan ($5.75 million), defensive tackle Abry Jones ($4 million) and cornerback D.J. Hayden ($7.6 million) would offer varying degrees of cap savings if released or with renegotiated contracts. It will be busy, important offseason. Stay tuned.