The 2018 season for the Jacksonville Jaguars painfully came to a disappointing end as the team finished with a 5-11 record.
This time last year, the team positioned itself for an improbable run in the AFC Playoffs. However, this year the majority of the team is booking vacations or checking for pink slips in their locker which facilitate their release from the team.
While other teams within the AFC South division like the Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, and Indianapolis Colts fared better, the Jacksonville staff will take time to reflect.
What went wrong in 2018? Who is to blame? What changes need to be made in the offseason? Where do we start? Should it be a mass overhaul or just the troublemakers?
The list of questions go on and on but there are three resolutions the team needs to make and adhere to in order to not have a repeat of this season in 2019.
Resolution #1 – Find Quarterback
From the looks of things the Blake Bortles experiment in Jacksonville has ended after five years due to inconsistency, inaccuracy, and lack of ball security.
The lone accolades for Blake during his time were his durability and that he was a nice guy, however those attributes did not propel the team to a championship level.
The time is now to find an upgrade at the position either via the draft in late-April or free agency or both. The Jaguars franchise has been without a true “franchise quarterback” for almost two decades. After missing on potential quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert, Byron Leftwich, and Bortles through the draft, it could be time for the Jaguars to look at free agents or a possible trade.
Veteran names like Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, Philadelphia’s reigning Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, two-time Super Bowl Champion Eli Manning from New York, and gunslingers like Detroit’s Matthew Stafford and Tampa’s Jameis Winston fill the headlines and social media forums.
Maybe the team needs a savvy but steady veteran to be the focal point of the pedestrian offense in the years to come. But then there’s always the draft with names like Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, West Virginia’s Will Grier, or Missouri’s Drew Lock swirl around as replacements. The resolution is to get the pick correct in the draft and end the frustrating cycle that has loomed over the city for years.
Resolution #2 – Find Down-field Playmaker
Another huge part of the Jacksonville offensive woes in 2018 has been the lack of a playmaker to emerge out of the mediocre collection of weapons in this offense.
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Yes, it’s true that injuries have been problematic on the offensive side of the ball since the release of wide receiver Allen Robinson last spring. However, with those injuries comes the opportunity for other players to rise up and become playmakers.
This did not really happen in 2018 and will need to be addressed in the offseason.
Who will it be? Dede Westbrook has been the best of the bunch for most of the year but has been marred by ineffective quarterback play, pedestrian pay calling, and a lack of an effective running game. But is he considered a number one receiver or an offensive threat by opposing NFL teams?
Jacksonville must have a playmaker that an opposing defensive coordinator has to account for. A true difference maker with potential to score every time the ball is in his hands. A downfield threat to open up the playbook and allow some resemblance of creativity for the offense. Only time will tell if that type of impact player is currently on the roster, but it is a resolution to strive for.
Resolution #3 – Discipline
Being brash, bold, and confident are traits admired for defensive players on a NFL team. Confidence can be intoxicating and bring out the best of others that surround you and help achieve a cohesive goal as a team. However, when you are a member of a struggling team, like the Jaguars we’re in 2018, the visibility of your confidence or frustration needs to be reined in.
For example, when trailing miserably to the Titans 30-9 in a Week 14 Thursday Night game, there should be no reason to have a celebration after achieving a fourth down stop late in the game.
As a loyal fan of the team and the game of football, that type of behavior and antics is embarrassing and needs to be reprimanded by the coaching staff.
Jacksonville ended the season in the top four in the category of highest penalized team including over two dozen personal fouls which include unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct.
This needs to stop in 2019.
Too many opposing teams’ drives were extended by senseless penalties on the defense in 2018.
The resolution for added discipline also extends off the field as well, holding players accountable for their actions and keeping names out of headlines. Head Coach Doug Marrone needs to appoint captains at the beginning of camp and access the selections for team captain weekly, revoking the current system which includes the player vote. (Hard to believe that All-Pro veteran Calais Campbell was not a captain of this team in 2018).
The coaching staff needs to regain control of a turbulent locker room and demand perfection physically and mentally in order for the Jaguars to take steps forward in 2019.