2018 was an unmitigated disaster for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Going from the AFC Championship game in 2017, to 5-11 and again picking in the top 10 of the draft was not what the residents of Duval County had in mind.
However, owner Shahid Khan has given Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin another crack at getting to the Big Game this year.
After the purging of villain in chief, Blake Bortles, and a solid first couple of rounds in the draft, there is a new sense of optimism for 2019 amongst Jaguars fans
In: Nick Foles (QB), Jake Ryan (LB)
Out: Malik Jackson (DT), Tashaun Gipson (FS),
Key Draft picks: Josh Allan (OLB), Juwaan Taylor (OT), Josh Oliver (TE)
Key player: Jalen Ramsey
Brashness, arrogance and awful training camp entrances aside, Jalen Ramsey is a hell of a player. Personally, I have no issue with his jaw-jacking as he can back it up – although he’s not everyones cup of tea. Paired up with AJ Bouye, the Jaguars have a corner back tandem that matches up to any other duo in the NFL.
Boasting shut down ability, length and speed, Ramsey can be unplayable on his day. If Ramsey can get back to his best in 2019, he will set the tone for the Jacksonville defence and help them re-establish their dominant streak.
However, with the new pass interference rules taking force in 2019, Ramsey may have to curb his naturally aggressive playing style to avoid costly penalty yardage in the Jaguars secondary.
Key Addition: Nick Foles
It is no secret that the Jaguars last QB custodian was not up to par. It’s quite frankly astounding he lasted in the job as long as he did.
Enter Nick Foles. A folk hero in Philadelphia for his Super Bowl MVP performance, as well as their dramatic run to the playoffs in 2018.
Even competent QB play would be an upgrade over Blake Bortles, and this is exactly what Foles will bring to the Jaguars offence. Sure, he will have some below average performances, but he is also capable of truly special ones in the right circumstances.
By tying cceptable QB play to a potentially outstanding defence, and a strong running game, Coughlin and Marrone will be hoping to make another run at the AFC Championship
Rookie to watch: Josh Oliver, TE
If Nick Foles is to succeed as hoped in Jacksonville, he will need a significant improvement in TE production than the Jaguars have had in recent seasons. In his recent spells in Eagles hotseat he had the luxury of the likes of Zach Ertz, Trey Burton and Dallas Goedert as reliable pass catch options at the position. The Jags have had nothing like this in the last 2 years, with only 102 passes caught by TE in that time frame – only the Dolphins have a worse statistic.
Oliver will be expecting to produce straight away. In his 3 years at San Jose State he proved himself a capable pass catcher – racking up 98 catches, 1067 yards and 7 TDs. He is quick too, 3rd fastest amongst TEs at the combine.
Foles will be hoping he can contribute from the outset, given that Jacksonville’s WR is not awash with star names.
The Jaguars now have a QB they seem to belive in, so there can be no more excuses from the coaches, or the front office. If things go south, Khan will likely pull the trigger and they will be heading into the 2020 season under new stewardship – it really is win or bust for Marrone, Coughlin & Co.