How Jaguars can change into true contenders in 2023: An offseason guidelines

After the Jaguars’ divisional-round playoff loss to the Chiefs, coach Doug Pederson made recognized what the usual in Jacksonville shall be for 2023 and past. 

“We want to be one of the four, five, or six teams in the AFC every year,” he stated. “Our guys believe that.”

So what’s going to it take to truly make {that a} actuality, making certain this season wasn’t a one-hit marvel? 

Listed below are six issues, in no specific order, the Jaguars want this offseason to take a step towards changing into a perennial playoff contender: 

Re-sign TE Evan Engram, RT Jawaan Taylor

Even one of the best quarterbacks want a security-blanket cross catcher and nice cross safety. For the Jaguars, that is what Engram and Taylor represented for Trevor Lawrence — and why they have to be re-signed in any respect prices. Each are scheduled to change into unrestricted free brokers this offseason. 

Engram loved a profession 12 months with Jacksonville in 2022, posting career-high in receptions (73) and receiving yards (766), each of that are single-season franchise data for tight ends. We have seen many nice quarterbacks in recent times depend upon sturdy tight finish play. Tom Brady had Rob Gronkowski. Patrick Mahomes has Travis Kelce. Lamar Jackson has Mark Andrews. Jalen Hurts has Dallas Goedert. Whereas not on the extent as a few of these different tight ends, Engram can signify that for Lawrence. 

Then there’s Taylor, a full-time starter since he was drafted within the second spherical in 2019, who was the most effective pass-blocking offensive tackles within the NFL final season. Amongst offensive tackles who performed a minimum of 80% of their staff’s snaps within the common season, Taylor’s 21 pressures allowed ranked second within the NFL, in line with Professional Soccer Focus. He had career-bests in pressures, hurries (15) and sacks (5) allowed in 2022. 

Add a No. 2 operating again 

A typical thread between the 4 groups left within the playoffs — the Chiefs, Bengals, Eagles and 49ers — is that all of them run the ball successfully. All of them have a transparent No. 1 tailback, however their run schemes all have reliable second choices. 

The Jaguars did not have that in 2022. 

Buying and selling James Robinson in October made Travis Etienne Jr. the clear-cut No. 1 operating again, but it surely left Jacksonville with out a notably sturdy No. 2 possibility. From Week 8 (when Robinson was traded) via the tip of the common season, the Jaguars averaged 115.4 dashing yards per recreation, twentieth within the league in that span. From Weeks 1-7, they averaged 136.7 dashing yards per recreation, eight within the league in that span. 

After Robinson was traded, the one true operating again contributions the Jaguars obtained outdoors of Etienne had been from JaMycal Hasty (46 carries, 194 yards, 2 TDs). Fifth-round rookie Snoop Conner (12 carries, 42 yards, TD) was a non-factor down the stretch. 

The Bengals have Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine. The 49ers have star Christian McCaffrey and a steady of backups and receivers they use of their various run scheme. The Eagles have star Miles Sanders and dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts, who had 760 dashing yards and 13 dashing touchdowns within the common season. The Chiefs have Isiah Pacheco and Mahomes, one of many league’s best scramblers. 

In accordance with the Protection-adjusted Worth over Common (DVOA) superior metric, which quantifies the worth of every play based mostly on whole yards and yards towards a primary down, these 4 groups all have dashing assaults within the league’s prime half (Eagles are No. 1, Bengals No. 4, Chiefs No. 9 and 49ers No. 13). The Jaguars are twentieth in rush DVOA. 

There is definitely room for Jacksonville to make the most of Lawrence, an athletic quarterback, extra as a runner. However a reliable No. 2 tailback behind Etienne may take the offense to new heights. 

A seamless transition for Calvin Ridley

Every staff left within the playoffs additionally has a bona fide star receiver. The Eagles have A.J. Brown. The 49ers have Deebo Samuel. The Chiefs have Kelce, a decent finish. The Bengals have Ja’Marr Chase. 

That is what Ridley may be for the Jaguars. 

Do not get it twisted: Lawrence had a robust group of weapons round him in receivers Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Engram. However none of them are true No. 1 choices. Ridley could possibly be that for Jacksonville and take stress off the opposite cross catchers, giving them extra favorable one-on-one alternatives. 

Ridley, who was suspended for a minimum of the 2022 season for playing on NFL video games, can apply for reinstatement as quickly as Feb. 15. He additionally performed simply 5 video games in 2021 after stepping away from soccer attributable to mental-health causes. 

In order good as he is been prior to now, it may take a while for him to reacclimate to soccer and change into the participant he as soon as was. That is the problem the Jaguars face and should overcome to raise their offense. 

Development from Trevor Lawrence 

Lawrence turned a real franchise quarterback in 2022. The following step for him is continuous to work on the consistency of his ball safety and choice making, which was a problem early this previous season. He threw a few egregious red-zone interceptions (assume Week 5 vs. the Texans, Week 8 vs. the Broncos) and had 12 misplaced fumbles general, fourth-most within the league. 

Nick Wright foresees a Tremendous Bowl look for Trevor Lawrence

Nick Wright foresees a Super Bowl appearance for Trevor Lawrence

Although Trevor Lawrence gave a valiant effort, the Jacksonville Jaguars couldn’t overcome Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs. However this is not the tip of the highway for the Prince That Was Promised.

Pederson believes Lawrence may take large strides in 12 months 3. For the primary time, he’ll know what to anticipate within the offseason program and be capable of construct on the chemistry he established along with his cross catchers in 2022. 

“He knows the guys he’s going to be throwing the ball to,” Pederson stated. “He knows the coaching staff that’s going to be coaching him. That’s big for us from Year 1 to Year 2 (in this system). … For our quarterback, who had a great year this year, he’ll only get better having that consistency around him.” 

Crush the draft

Earth shattering, proper? (That is a joke). 

Drafting effectively persistently is the one surefire technique to establishing endurance within the NFL. That is all of the extra important now for the Jaguars, a rising staff within the AFC with monetary constraints. Jacksonville is at present $22 million over the 2023 wage cap, in line with Over The Cap. Normal supervisor Trent Baalke has additionally famous how this offseason is time for the franchise to begin relying much less on free brokers. 

The Jaguars are scheduled to have 9 picks within the 2023 draft, together with the twenty fourth general choice (Jacksonville would’ve sometimes chosen twenty fifth this 12 months, however the Dolphins forfeiting their first-round choose bumped the Jaguars up a spot). 

The staff’s 2021 draft class helped set the promising basis it now has for 2023 and past. Lawrence, Etienne, cornerback Tyson Campbell and security Andre Cisco are full-time starters from that class. Offensive deal with Walker Little, who stepped in as a starter at left deal with this season when Cam Robinson was misplaced for the 12 months, and key backup tight finish Luke Farrell had been additionally drafted that 12 months.

Enhance the cross rush

It isn’t just like the Jaguars could not get after the quarterback in 2022. 

That they had a 32.9% stress price on dropbacks, third within the NFL, in line with Subsequent Gen Stats. However so usually, Jacksonville could not get dwelling for sacks, racking up simply 35 of them, tied for twenty fifth within the league. Of the 14 playoff groups this season, the Jaguars had the second fewest (Bengals had 30). They did not have a participant report greater than seven sacks. That is a determine that should enhance in 2023. 

Jacksonville expects continued development from 2022 No. 1 general choose Travon Walker (3.5 sacks), but it surely may use one other edge rusher within the rotation. Defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot (5), who’s scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, tore his Achilles in Week 16. Rotational outdoors linebacker Arden Key (4.5) is somebody the Jaguars may look to deliver again. 

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports activities. He beforehand labored for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Community, the place he was the Titans beat author for a 12 months and a half. He coated the Seattle Seahawks for for 3 seasons (2018-20) previous to transferring to Tennessee. You’ll be able to observe Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.

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