2020 Jacksonville Jaguars Team Outlook: Year 2 of the Gardner Minshew Experiment

There was early buzz surrounding Jacksonville Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew a year ago, yet the offense's centerpiece continues to be RB Leonard Fournette. Can the duo propel the franchise forward?
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Coaching Staff

Doug Marrone returns for his fourth season as head coach. In his career in the NFL, Marrone has a 37-45 record with two playoff wins in three games with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 2013 and 2014, he went 15-17 for the Bills. Marrone has 15 years of experience in the NFL. His team looks to be fading on both sides of the ball, which invites job loss.

Jay Gruden takes over as the offensive coordinator after struggling to save the Redskins franchise over six seasons (35-49-1 with one playoff appearance). He helped Tampa win a Super Bowl in 2002 as an assistant coach. Gruden worked as the offensive coordinator for the Bengals for three seasons while having 16 years of experience in the NFL.

Last year the Jaguars climbed from 31st in points scored (245) to 26th in 2019 (300). They finished 20th in offensive yards.

Todd Wash returns for his fifth season as the defensive coordinator after spending the previous three years as the Jaguars’ defensive line coach and running game coordinator. He has 14 years of NFL experience.

His defense ranked 6th, 2nd, and 5th in yards allowed heading into 2019. The change in personnel on the defensive side of the ball led to a massive regression in yards allowed (24th) and points allowed (397 – 21st). Since 2017, Jacksonville has allowed 129 more points on defense.

Free Agency

The top player signed by the Jaguars in the offseason was LB Joe Schobert. He had risk vs. the run while regressing in the pass rush. Jacksonville signed him to a five-year deal for almost $54 million with $21.5 million in guarantees.

The Jaguars added CB Rashaan Melvin, DE Cassius Marsh, DT Al Woods, and DT Rodney Gunter to their defense. Only Marsh and Woods project to earn regular snaps as rotational players.

Jacksonville didn’t re-sign DT Marcell Dareus, LB Jake Ryan, LB Preston Brown, LB Najee Goode, and DT Akeem Spence while S Cody Davis found a new home in New England.

They invested in Tyler Eifert to hopefully add a pulse to their tight end position.

All other moves were minor.

Draft

In the first round, Jacksonville drafted CB CJ Henderson and LB K'Lavon Chaisson.

Henderson gives the Jaguars the elite cornerback they lacked last year after trading CB Jalen Ramsey midseason in 2019 to the Rams. He plays with vision and explosiveness with the foundation skill set to excel in coverage. His next step is improving in press coverage while locking into his moving target in free space.

Chaisson looks to be on the verge of unlocking the keys to be an explosive pass rusher. He plays with fire and explosiveness off the snaps with the moves to finish his targets. His next step is adding the power to win in the trenches. Chaisson needs to develop his game vs. the run while having the thought process to improve his game. He does have a history of injuries.

The Jaguars added WR Laviska Shenault in the second round. Shenault has the physical look of a Larry Fitzgerald or DeAndre Hopkins while owning similar hands. He can’t match the two elite wide receivers in his route running or resume. His speed (4.58 forty) works for his build while owning an edge in strength. Shenault plays with plenty of heart and fight, but his need for punishing contact does invite injury risk.

His next step is developing his release while working on his timing and motions within the route tree.

With four of their five picks, Jacksonville shifted back to the defensive side of the ball – DT Davon Hamilton, CB Josiah Scott, LB Shaquille Quarterman, and S Daniel Thomas.

Hamilton needs to add patience to his game while also developing his range of pass-rushing moves. His explosiveness grades well, earning him a disrupter feel. Hamilton should hold his own vs. the run as long as he doesn’t overcommit on his first move after the snap.

Scott has the talent to be a straight cover option, but his game takes a hit when asked to play the physical side of the ball. Run support will be an issue. Scott should develop into a nickel corner with playmaking ability. His speed and quickness should be his ticket to playing time.

Quarterman has an attacking feel that offers the best value when attacking the line of the scrimmage. His range is limited while needing to develop his vision to help create more space in traffic. The Jaguars should have the best value in early downs.

Thomas will have questionable value in coverage. He projects well vs. the run. Thomas struggles when asked to change direction while being too much of a gamble at times.

In the fourth round, Jacksonville drafted T Ben Bartch. He made the jump from tight end to tackle in his college career. His game is raw while needing to get stronger. Bartch’s best asset is his athletic ability and expected upside in pass protection.

With their last pick in the fifth round and two choices in the sixth, the Jaguars tried to improve their offensive depth – WR Collin Johnson, QB Jake Luton, and TE Tyler Davis.

Johnson has TE size (6’6”), but with a big wide receiver frame (222 lbs.). His hands create his edge when he is in catch mode and fights to win in space vs. his defender. Johnson blocks well with minimal over the short areas of the field other than in fade routes. Possible seam player out of the slot.

Luton likes to make pre-snap reads and get the ball out quickly, but this plan takes a step back in value in the NFL as teams are better at disguising their coverage. His next step is his growth in lengthening his progressions to help move the deep safety in what will be tightly contested deep passes. He’ll climb the pocket if needed with some success when asked to make rollout type plays.

Davis doesn’t have a trait that projects well at the next level. His route running isn’t ideal while having the speed to win in the deep passing game—more of a project than a winning piece to the puzzle.

With their 12th pick in this year’s draft, Jacksonville went with CB Chris Claybrooks. He’s trying to transition from wide receiver to cornerback, but he missed some development time in 2019 with a foot issue. His speed looks elite while being undersized (5’9” and 177 lbs.). His foundation skill set needs plenty of work while needing to get stronger.

Offensive Line

Jacksonville finished 17th (1,708 yards) with only three rushing touchdowns. They averaged 24.3 carries per game with ten runs over 20 yards.

The Jaguars worked their way to 17th in passing yards (4,023) with 24 TDs and eight Ints. They gained 6.8 yards per pass attempt while their offensive line allowed 42 sacks and 84 QB hits.

LT Cam Robinson

Over his first three years in the NFL, Robinson has yet to make an impact. His run blocking remains a liability. He needs to clean up his game in pass protection.

Coming into the NFL after getting drafted in the second round in 2017, add value to a power run game with his edge coming when he reaches the second level of the defense. His biggest weakness comes from his movements on certain plays. Robinson needs to fire more at the point of contact in pass sets plus not overcommit in the run game. Walks a fine line between aggressiveness and being passive, leading to his body being out of position at the point of contact. His losing battles result with him on the mat.

LG Andrew Norwell

Nowell has been an asset for his whole career in pass protection. His game regressed over the last three seasons in the run game. The Panthers signed an undrafted free agent in 2014. Norwell should be an asset at his position.

C Brandon Linder

Linder continues to be an anchor in the middle of the Jaguars’ offensive line thanks to his plus value in pass protection. He’s been an edge as well each year in the league in the run game. The Jaguars selected him in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

RG A.J. Cann

The excitement of Cann left the building after the 2016 season. His game is trending downward in pass protection, which invites job loss. Over the last three years, he struggled to make an impact in the run game.

RT Jawaan Taylor

The next building block came in the second round in the 2019 draft with Taylor. He is the future right tackle who projects as a power run blocker with the foot speed to handle his responsibility in pass protection. His biggest challenge will be his motor and focus while learning to control his weight.

In his rookie season, he allowed too many sacks and pressure to the quarterback while falling short of expectation in his run blocking. Taylor should be much better in his sophomore season in the league.

Offensive Line Outlook

This offensive line has talent at four positions with the key to their growth coming at left tackle. Jacksonville should improve on the ground, and their sack total did make progress in 2019. Overall, I expect the Jaguars to have a top 12 offensive line in 2020.

Offensive Schedule

The data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing touchdowns (TDS).

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This information is based on 2019, which will work as our starting point for 2020. We’ll look at all the changes on offense on each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We’ll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.

2019 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2019.

2019 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL.

2019 Adjustment is based on the 2019 league average and the 2019 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat category and the basis for the strength of schedule.

Jacksonville has almost a neutral schedule for both their rushing and passing offense. Their best two contests on the ground should come against the Bengals and the Browns. The Jaguars should struggle against the Ravens with three other mid-tier games (CHI and IND X 2).

Their best opportunity should come against Detroit and two games vs. the Texans. Jacksonville also has five favorable contests (MIA, IND X 2, and TEN X 2). They should struggle against the Chargers, the Steelers, the Ravens, and the Browns.

Offense

When the Jaguars played their best in 2017, they showcased a top defense while featuring a high volume run game. Last year they ran the ball 40 percent of the time (50 percent in 2017 and 43.7 in 2018). Their receiver core should be improved, while QB Gardner Minshew has to prove that he can push this offense to a playoff level.

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Here’s a look at the early projections for the Jaguars, which will be fluid all summer after taking in all injury updates and training camp news:

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Quarterbacks

Gardner Minshew

The Jaguars are in a tricky situation with Minshew. He outplayed Nick Foles in 2019, creating a starting opportunity this year. His buzz came over his first three games (73.9 percent completion rate) while surprising off the bench in Week 1 (275/2).

Over his final 11 games, he worked well as a game manager (16 TDs and 5 INTs), but Minshew gained only 6.8 yards per pass attempt with regression in his completion rate (57.6).

In December, he battled a right shoulder injury. His job to lose with a gamer feel. His resume may not be strong enough to keep the starting gig if he struggles early, and the Jaguars don’t win games.

I like what he brings to the table. Only a low-end backup fantasy QB even with rookie WR Laviska Shenault expected to add scoring value. Minshew has an early ADP of 157 as the 26th quarterback off the board. I have him projected for 3,902 combined yards with 19 TDs and 12 Ints.

Jake Luton

Before 2019, Luton didn’t have much of a resume between Idaho and Oregon State. He passed for 2,913 yards with 17 TDs and 12 Ints over this span. Last year his game looked much improved, leading to career highs in passing yards (2,714) and touchdowns (28). His best stat was his low number of interceptions (3) over 358 pass attempts.

He ran a play-action type offense that had success running the ball (408/1884/21). Luton threw the ball with velocity while having the extra zip if needed to drive the ball in tight coverage. His mechanics played up with showcasing vision and the ability to get the ball where his receivers could gain extra yards after the catch. Luton trusted his wideouts enough to give them 50/50 chances downfield.

Other options: Mike Glennon, Joshua Dobbs

Running Backs

In 2019, the Jaguars’ running backs had 411 touches for 2,040 combined yards with five TDs and 93 catches. Their running backs finished with over 90 catches in each of the past three years while averaging 132 targets per year. Even with plenty of chances in the passing game, Jacksonville completed 25.5 percent of their passes to the running back position (30.4 percent in 2017). This change is due to better options at wide receiver and more overall passing attempts. This season they need to be much better running touchdowns (only three rushing TDs in 2019).

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Leonard Fournette

Fournette stayed healthy for most of 2019, which led to a career-high in rushing yards (1,152), catches (76), receiving yards (522), and targets(100). He finished seventh in RB scoring (260.4) in PPR leagues despite failure in TDs (3).

Fournette posted two impact games (245 combined yards and two catches and 159 combined yards with TDs and nine catches). On the downside, he rushed for fewer than 75 yards in ten of his 15 games.

Overall, Fournette had 341 touches while falling short in yards gains per catch (6.9). He tied Christian McCaffrey and Nick Chubb for runs over 40 yards (40).

Workhorse back with a grinder feel while owning injury. Top-ten opportunity with an RB2 price point (ADP – 25) in the early draft season. In his initial projections, I have him down for 1,472 combined yards with six TDs and 60 catches. The addition of Chris Thompson does lower the ceiling and opportunity in the passing game for Fournette.

He does have some injury risk (12 missed games over his first three years in the league), which invites some missed playing time. Fournette will be a free agent next year after the Jaguars failed to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract.

Chris Thompson

Over the last three seasons, Thompson missed 17 games while failing to develop into a playable week-to-week player in PPR leagues. He shined over ten contests (804 combined yards with six TDs and 39 catches) in 2017, which showcased his big-play ability (nine catches over 20 yards). His yards per rush declined in the past four years (6.2, 5.2, 4.6, 4.1, and 3.7). Thompson averaged 3.4 catches for 49 yards and 0.23 TDs over his last 60 games.

Change-of-pace back that will have the most value in a chaser game. Thompson has bye week cover upside while also working a low-value handcuff.

Ryquell Armstead

Armstead brings a physical presence to the RB position. He is a north/south runner who shows the ability to make quick cuts in tight quarters with the power to finish in the open field. Armstead projects well on pass protection. He needs to add patience to his running style while offering minimal upside in catches. His vision isn’t ideal, but his subtle movements give him a chance to work his way to the top backup role for the Jaguars.

Armstead struggled to rush the ball (3.1 yards per carry) in his rookie season while being more productive than expected in the passing game (14/144/2). The top early-down handcuff for RB Leonard Fournette.

Other options: Devine Ozigbo, James Robinson, Tavien Feaster, Nathan Cottrell

Wide Receivers

In 2019, the wide receiver position for the Jaguars gained value in all categories. They caught 45 more passes than 2018, leading to 757 yards, ten TDs, and 67 targets. Their wide receivers accounted for 71 percent of Jacksonville’s passing yards.

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DJ Chark

Coming out of college, Chark had a minimal resume (66/1351/6) in the receiving game over three seasons.

In 2019, he proved to be a value on draft day or a quick waiver wire pickup after his fast start to the year over five games (27/485/5 on 37 targets). Chark flashed in Week 1 (4/146/1) while offering two other impact games (8/164/2 and 8/104/2).

Over his final five starts, he only caught 22 passes for 212 yards with no touchdowns. Chark brings to the table scoring and big-play ability, which sets his bar at a WR2 in PPR leagues in 2020. His progression can only soar as high as the Jaguars’ passing game improves. His initial projections came to 75 catches for 1,040 yards and six TDs while earning an early ADP of 68 as the 28th wide receiver drafted.

Dede Westbrook

The Jaguars gave Westbrook the same number of targets(101) in 2019 as in 2018, and he responded with equal results in catches (66).

In his best season in college, Westbrook gained 19.0 yards per catch with 17 TDs.

Jacksonville uses him on plays close to the line of scrimmage while rarely taking advantage of his ability to make big plays. WR D.J. Chark emerged last year, and the Jaguars added another big possession type WR in Laviska Shenault in this season’s draft.

Westbrook finished with only four games (7/82, 6/103, 5/60/1, and 7/72/1) with over 15.0 fantasy points in PPR leagues. He posted a zero in Week 8 after leaving the game early with a shoulder issue. The injury also forced him to miss the next week’s game.

Possible growth in the length of his plays, but his opportunity can't improve based on Jacksonville's passing game's current structure. Bye week cover at best while projected to be drafted as a WR6 (ADP of 213). I have him projected for 49 catches for 569 yards and three touchdowns out of the gate.

Laviska Shenault

The wide receiver with size (6’2” and 220 lbs.) in this year’s draft is Shenault. He played at the highest level in 2018 (1,126 combined yards with 11 TDs and 86 catches) over nine games while missing time with toe and shoulder injuries that both required surgery. Last year his production in the passing game (56/764/4) had a sharp drop off while maintaining some value as a runner (23/161/2), which came on direct snaps. In March, Shenault had surgery to repair a core issue.

His skill set could be the missing link of the Jaguars’ passing game in the red zone. Tempting backend wide receiver if he works his way to WR2 for Jacksonville in 2020.

Fantasy owners gave him an ADP of 228 in drafts complete after the 2020 NFL Draft through May. I have him slightly rated over Westbrook (53/677/3) in May. His projection will be fluid once the training camp news is released.

Chris Conley

Over the past two seasons, Conley scored ten touchdowns in his 32 games played. Over this span, he has 79 catches for 1,109 yards on 142 targets. He set career-highs in catches (47), receiving yards (775), and targets (90) in 2019, but his catch rate (52.2) led to inconsistent play. Conley had the best success in three games (6/97/1, 4/103/1, and 4/49/2). He’s looking like the odd man out this year if Laviska Shenault can handle a starting snap in his rookie season.

Other options: Keelan Cole, Collin Johnson, C.J. Board, Michael Walker, Terry Godwin

Tight Ends

There hasn’t been any excitement in a tight end option for the Jaguars over the past three seasons. Their TEs continue to gain short yards per catch (8.98 in 2018 and 8.66 in 2019) with minimal value in touchdowns (four over the last two years).

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Tyler Eifert

For the first time in his career, Eifert played a full season in 2019. Even so, his final stats ranked only 19th in TE scoring (106.60) in PPR leagues. He gained fewer than 30 yards in 11 contests with three catches or less in 14 games. The move to Jacksonville doesn’t look attractive based on their TE usage (53/459/3 on 79 targets) in 2019. Eifert has talent, but it’s been four years since his last fantasy pulse (52/615/13 – 2015).

Josh Oliver

In his senior year at San Jose State, Josh caught 56 passes for 709 yards and four TDs. He runs good pass routes along with the hands to develop into a high-volume receiver. His blocking skills are trailing even with a foundation of strength and power.

In 2019, he battled a bad hamstring injury over the summer, which led to no action over the first six games. His season ended in mid-November with a back injury.

Other options: James O’Shaughnessy, Tyler Davis, Charles Jones, Ben Ellefson

Kicker

Josh Lambo

Lambo has been exceptional in making field goals over his previous three years (71-for-75 – 94.7 percent), but he missed nine combined games between 2017 and 2018. Last year Lambo made 33 of his 34 field goal chances, helping him to the sixth-highest scoring year at kicker (8.83 FPPG). His downside over the past three years has been the lack of extra-points (64) while missing nine games. Lambo is more than worthy when asked to kick from 50 yards or more (10-for-11 from 2017 to 2019). Solid leg with matchup value.

Defensive Schedule

Over the first ten games in 2020, the Jaguars have five matchups (MIA, CIN, DET, LAC, and PIT) vs. teams that struggled to run the ball. Down the stretch, Jacksonville will be tested in the run game by the Vikings, Titans, Ravens, and Colts.

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They face six teams (PIT, CLE, TEN, BAL, CHI, and IND) over the final six weeks that ranked below or well below the league average in passing yards in 2019. Their season opens up in Week 1 with a favorable game vs. the Colts. Jacksonville has one game (LAC) against a team that passed the ball well in 2019, but the Chargers have a step back in quarterback this year.

Defense

The Jaguars dropped to 28th in rushing yards allowed (2,229) with 23 TDs. They allowed 15 runs over 20 yards and six rushes over 40 yards. Rushers gained 5.1 yards per carry.

Jacksonville lost their swagger to their pass defense, which led to a fade to 17th in passing yards (3,778). They allowed 22 passing TDs and ten Ints. The Jaguars did show growth in sacks (47) while allowing 7.9 yards per pass attempt.

DE Yannick Ngakoue

Over his four seasons in the NFL, Ngakoue has 122 tackles and 37.5 sacks while also picking up two Ints, nine defended passes, two TDs, and 14 forced fumbles. Even with growth and plenty of exciting stats, he continues to play poorly defending the run. His tackling skills have faded over the past two years.

DE Josh Allen

In his rookie season, Allen upgraded the Jaguars’ pass rush (10.5 sacks) while recording 44 tackles. His run defense fell short of expectations. Allen is a speed/power player who will improve with more experience.

DT Taven Bryan

Jacksonville drafted Bryan in the first round in 2018. Over his first two years in the league, his run defense is his best trait. Over 32 games, Bryan has 53 tackles and three sacks while working as an early-down rotational player against the run.

DT Al Woods

Jacksonville will use Woods on early downs to hopefully slow down the run game. Over 125 career games, he only has 5.5 sacks with no forced fumbles. The Jaguars need another option to step up as a pass-rusher.

LB Myles Jack

After setting career-highs in tackles (107) and sacks (2.5) in 2019, Jack had a setback in value last year due to five missed games due to a knee issue. When on top of his game, he adds value in run support with an occasional sack. Last year his play in coverage took a big hit. Jacksonville will also use K’Lavon Chaisson on the outside to rush the quarterback.

LB Joe Schobert

Over the last three seasons with the Browns, Schobert had success in tackles (144, 103, and 133) while playing well in coverage (six TDs and 19 defended passes). Schobert has eight sacks over this span, and he forced seven fumbles. Even with a bucket full of stats, Schobert showed a decline in the run game.

LB Cassius Marsh

Marsh played for four different teams over the past four seasons, which led to 126 combined tackles and 14 sacks over 63 games. The Jaguars should use him only as a rotational player. Quincy Williams should be given an excellent opportunity after his selection in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Williams comes into the NFL with a big safety feel while expecting to be an edge in run support. His vision and quickness should offer strength, but Quincy needs to prove he can beat players with size to the punch in play pursuit.

CB CJ Henderson

Jacksonville will move Henderson right into their starting lineup. His coverage skills grade well while offering elite speed. I don’t expect him to be a stud in run support while needing to get stronger to handle physical receivers at the line of scrimmage.

CB Tre Herndon

Herndon made the jump from an undrafted free agent in 2018 to a ten-game starter in his second year in the NFL. The trade of CB Jalen Ramsey to the Rams helped his opportunity. His overall play showed risk in all areas, which points to him being a bench player. Jacksonville added other options in the draft and via free agency to hopefully improve this position in 2020.

S Jarrod Wilson

After a minimal career in the NFL over his first four years in the league, Wilson picked 79 tackles in his first season with starting snaps. He added two Ints, and four defended passes. Wilson doesn’t have the foundation skill set to be a difference-maker in run support. He’ll make the majority of his tackles with improvement defending the pass.

S Ronnie Harrison

His game projects well in both run support and pass coverage. Harrison offers size (6’2” and 207 lbs.) and speed, but his aggressive style can be his downfall on some plays. He needs to improve his tackling, which comes from translating from hitter to finisher. He should add value to the pass rush as well. In his two years in the league, Harrison failed to live up to expectation against the run.

Team Defense Outlook

The Jaguars have playmakers on the outside of their defensive line with added strength at middle linebacker and the lead cornerback slot. Schobert will add tackles and help the run defense, but Jacksonville still has other questions slowing down their opponent's rushing attack. Viable flier at second fantasy defense with more upside if their two rookie additions hit the ground running.

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