The OTA’s held before training camp are no indication of what to expect in the season. Whether a player will be a bench warmer or a pro-bowler isn’t easily predicted. Not to mention absences from key players can lead to outlier performances, depending on how that missing player affects other positions.
The Jaguars look better now than they did last year during OTA’s. A large part of this is due to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s system entering its second season. Here are the standout Jaguars offensive players from the first week of organized team activities.
Fournette came into OTA’s with a new lean look as reported by the Jaguars Wire. Listed as 228-pounds last season, Fournette looks to be at or below the 220-pound mark. This comes after his rookie campaign when he ran for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns.
Of the nine running backs with at least 1,000 yards rushing, Fournette had the most rushing attempts with eight-plus defenders in the box(49 percent). With Big Cat Country’s report of Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone not planning to lead the NFL in rushing again , the passing game will have a bigger role in the offense.
Based on what the offense could do this year, Fournette will have less touches but more yards and efficiency. Just look at last season’s rushing leader, Kareem Hunt. Hunt led the league with 1,327 yards, and was a beneficiary of his team’s dynamic passing attack. Only 24 percent of his attempts had 8+ box defenders, half as many as Fournette.
With the release of long time Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis, Seferian-Jenkins has a huge role to fill. The former New York Jet has impressed at OTA’s with his work ethic and play.
“From his preparation to his ability to do what he has been doing in the drills and on the field, I feel very, very good about where he is at knowing that we are probably just tapping the potential, and I think he has done everything we have asked him to do,” coach Marrone said.
Seferian-Jenkins has many convinced he is the missing piece to the Jaguars championship aspirations. It’s why Bleacher Report predicted him to be the Jaguars breakout player of 2018.
D.J. Chark was drafted into an already crowded wide receiving corps and hasn’t made headlines during early OTA’s as did fellow newcomers Seferian-Jenkins and Donte Moncrief.
Despite this, the Jaguars felt comfortable signing the speedy receiver to a four-year, $4.5 million contract. He gives the Jaguars a legitimate downfield threat after losing Allen Robinson in free agency. Chark also has a positive attitude which is great for the growing culture.
By far the most comforting factor during these OTA’s has been the early play of Blake Bortles. Although it is notable that Pro-bowl cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye were not in attendance, his overall confidence and chemistry with the receivers is a constant source of praise by coaches and teammates alike. His accuracy has been sharp and he’s performing better than in previous offseasons.
“[Bortles] communication. His confidence in the huddle. He gets everyone going. You know, he’s one of the best I’ve been around. He’s got a great sense of humor.” guard Andrew Norwell said. “When we are out there working together, we’re working to be better.”
This improved performance in OTA’s is in large part due to this being Bortles second year with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Another could be the fact that Bortles has better players around him and more weapons to pass the ball to.
This could be the best Jaguars offense seen in a long time. This is the most confident Blake Bortles has looked in a Jaguars offense. Sophomore receivers Dede Westbrook and Keenan Cole will look to improve off solid rookie seasons, while newcomers Seferian-Jenkins and D.J. Chark add new dimensions to the offense. Veterans like Marqise Lee, Andrew Norwell, and Donte Moncrief are all going to prove invaluable in the playoffs.
Although a large emphasis has been placed on the passing attack and all the new weapons around Bortles, the running game will once again be a large part of the Jaguars success. Running backs Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon will face less pressure than last season while also running behind a better offensive line. Their efficiency will definitely go up. Looking to see if the Jaguars can keep up the high level of practice will result in an intriguing off-season.