The Trevor Lawrence era has officially begun in Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars had a mountain of work on the table after last season. Only a single game could the Jags win; the first of the season. That’s why head coach Doug Marrone was put in the garbage on January 4. Barely ten days later, the Jaguars announced his replacement. To no one’s surprise, Urban Meyer took up the gauntlet to get the team out of the doldrums. Despite his long track record in College Football, this is only his first job as a top-level head coach.
The Jaguars could use a little more than just a new coach. With a well-filled stock market, the market moved up. The defense in particular needed a makeover. The Jags had the second-worst defense of the pack in 2020, so a quality injection was desperately needed. The front office invested in both the front seven and the secondary. Defensive Tackle Malcom Brown traded from the New Orleans Saints, while Roy Robertson-Harris left the Bears and signed a three-year deal with Jacksonville. Former Pro Bowler Shaq Griffin and safety Rayshawn Jenkins were brought in to spice up the secondary.
Also offensively it was a disappointing season for Jacksonville last year. To change that in 2021, they said goodbye to receivers Chris Conley and Keelan Cole. Marvin Jones came in their place from the Detroit Lions. He signed for two years. Veteran Carlos Hyde joined the backfield. The most notable newcomer, however, was Tim Tebow. The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner returned to the after nine years. This time not as a quarterback, but as a tight end. The news put the Jaguars in the center of attention for a while.
Thanks to their dramatic season, the Jacksonville Jaguars could count on the first pick in the 2021 Draft, which, to no one’s surprise, went to Clemson’s quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence was considered the greatest talent in the draft and experts see him as potentially one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. A no-brainer for an organization that was urgently looking for a new face. The Jaguars also had a lot of draft capital to spend. Still in the first round, the 25th pick went to running back Travis Etienne, also of Clemson. Running back wasn’t exactly the Jags’ biggest need, but they didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to reunite Etienne and Lawrence in the NFL.
In the second round, the Jaguars again got to choose twice. The 33rd pick fell to Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell, while the 45th pick went to offensive tackle Walker Little. From rounds 3 to 6, the Jags had another five picks. With that, they chose Andre Cisco (S, Syracuse) in the third round, Jay Tufele (DT, USC) and Jordan Smith (DE, UAB) in the fourth round, Luke Farrell (TE, Ohio State) in the fifth round and finally Jalen Camp (WR, Georgia Tech) in the sixth round.
The attack of the Jacksonville Jaguars has a new leader and his name is Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence will have to lead the Jaguars again to their 2018 level, although that seems too ambitious this season. Lawrence will be the starter for Jacksonville this season, that’s for sure. Behind him is another battle for backup position between Gardner Minshew and CJ Beathard. If Minshew is no longer traded away, he will be Trevor Lawrence’s backup.
In terms of weapons, Lawrence may throw the ball to mainly DJ Chark and the newly recruited Marvin Jones. Laviska Shenault will be the third receiver on duty. The tight ends are not crowded in Jacksonville. Draft pick Luke Farrell could start right away. Whether Tim Tebow will make it to the team at the start of the season remains to be seen. However, it is very unlikely that he will play a significant role in the Jaguars’ offense.
The backfield looks very interesting on paper. First round pick Travis Etienne will be immediately thrown to the limelight and next to him James Robinson will try to confirm his surprising performances from last season. This duo can count on an O-line that is unchanged after last season. That in itself is not bad news, because this group was certainly not among the worst in the National Football League (NFL). Certainly center Brandon Linder is one of the best in his position. He will have to take care of the openings for Etienne and Robinson.
As mentioned, the defense of the Jacksonville Jaguars last season was subpar to say the least. The front office in Jacksonville has done everything in its power to improve the quality during the mid-season. That was partly successful. New recruits Shaq Griffin, Roy Robertson-Harris and Rayshawn Jenkins will almost certainly all start in their respective positions. Malcom Brown will also be able to count on sufficient minutes as a defensive tackle. We don’t immediately see starters in the rookies.
In the front seven, Robertson-Harris will probably be the most dangerous pass rusher. It is also looking forward to the evolution of Taven Bryan. Bryan was a first round pick in 2018 and is still only 25, so he can still grow. At the edge position, the Jaguars with Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson have two recent first round picks that should in principle do better in 2021 than in 2020. Also linebackers Myles Jack and Joe Shobert are men who survived the spring cleanup in Jacksonville. Certainly Myles Jack showed last season beautiful things and according to PFF 15 the best linebacker in the NFL.
Finally, in the secondary we see Shaq Griffin and Rayshawn Jenkins as confident starters, alongside sophomore cornerback CJ Henderson and safety Jarrod Wilson. For the last starting spot at cornerback, we may be looking at a duel between Tre Herndon and Sydney Jones. However, the Jaguars don’t have a lot of depth in their defence, despite the quality injection.
It can hardly be worse than 2020 and it will not happen. The Jacksonville Jaguars are a better team now than they were a year ago. They have brought in quality in both free agency and draft which should allow them to boost their winning total quite a bit. Still, the Jags lack real stars, as well as depth in some positions. On the tight end, for example, it is fruitless to look for a top player, while there are no world players in the defense either. However, it is a very young team and there is potential in it. Not least at quarterback, the most important position on the field. If Trevor Lawrence can shine right away, hope will soon return to Jacksonville, but a winning season, that comes too early for this group.