Each week during this year's season, Jaguar Report will take Jacksonville Jaguars-related questions from our readers across social media and answer them in a question-and-answer format, giving readers a chance to have their voices heard.
This week we take questions on where the Jaguars can go from 2-9, Urban Meyer's future, and more.
Q: Is Urban Meyer going to leave the Jaguars for Notre Dame???
A: No -- at least I really, really, really don't think so. I won't blame anyone for connecting the dots considering Meyer coached at Notre Dame for five years and has called the job his dream job in the past (albeit a dozen years ago), but it just doesn't make sense for Meyer, in my opinion. This is largely due to how much college football has changed since Meyer last coached it in 2018, but also in part due to the value of having Trevor Lawrence as his quarterback and having the security of being Shad Khan's head coach.
Whether people should want Meyer to go to Notre Dame is a different question altogether, but I would be shocked if he left the Jaguars to coach in South Bend. This was even before reports from The Associated Press and ESPN today stated that Meyer had no interest in returning to college football. Meyer and college football simply aren't the fit they used to be.
Q: With the season mostly over, what are the most important things that can happen over the next month? Which players is it most important to see some improvement from?
A: Well I think the biggest thing is learning how to win games. The best thing for the Jaguars in the long-term would obviously be to enter 2022 with as high of a draft pick as possible, but the Jaguars badly need some confidence and some taste of success after a 1-15 season in 2020 and a 2-9 start in 2021. The Jaguars have been losers for the past two years. Getting Aidan Hutchinson at No. 2 overall wouldn't change that mindset or the sting of it, but racking up a few wins and instilling some much-needed confidence in the Jaguars' young players could go a long way. The Jaguars going into 2022 with still no real idea of how to win games at the NFL level would be disastrous, but there is a real chance it happens.
As for the second part of the question, Trevor Lawrence's development obviously takes precedent. I am higher on Lawrence's rookie season than many, but there is no disputing that the actual production from Lawrence and the Jaguars' passing game has been below-average, especially considering the Jaguars' offense is scoring barely more than the early-era Gus Bradley teams. Getting Lawrence some better chances to actually throw touchdowns and operate a clean game from the pocket is key.
Outside of Lawrence, I think Tyson Campbell is the next name. Walker Little and Andre Cisco would take some precedent if they were starters, but instead Campbell is the only other Jaguars rookie who plays a big role. Campbell developing over the next six weeks would help make No. 2 cornerback a role the Jaguars could feel secure in during the offseason, eliminating a potentially massive need.
Q: Do you feel as if the offensive line has regressed? Who are the starting five next year?
A: Over the last few weeks? I certainly think so. I thought the offensive line was the best unit on the team going into the bye week, but the last few weeks have not been as kind. According to TruMedia and Pro Football Focus, the Jaguars have allowed 40 pressures over the last three weeks and this was increasingly clear against the Falcons as the Jaguars had several plays blown up due to missed blocks on the edges and from right guard Ben Bartch. Injuries to the interior line have hurt the Jaguars, but the line hasn't been as steady in pass-protection as they were during the first month-plus of the season.
As for the second part of your question, that is a tough one. The Jaguars have expiring contracts at left tackle, left guard, and right guard, while center Brandon Linder has a voidable deal and right tackle Jawaan Taylor has struggled as of late. Still, here are my official guesses for next year's starting line.
LT Walker Little
LG Andrew Norwell
C Brandon Linder
RG Ben Bartch
RT Trent Brown
I think the Jaguars let Cam Robinson walk and bring in Trent Brown on a fairly lucrative free agency deal after he has rehabbed his image with the Patriots. Look for Evan Neal as an option, too.
Q: Why wasn't James Robinson on the field in big moments on Sunday? Was it just his fumble?
A: Urban Meyer has given a few different variations of the same answer. On Sunday, he said that it was a question for his offensive coordinator and running backs coach and that he doesn't micromanage. On Monday, Meyer elaborated a bit more after actually getting the information from his coaches on why his best player wasn't on the field on one of the most important drives of the last month for the Jaguars.
“We just try to rotate. I just asked that question like five minutes ago to get clarity if I get asked. [It’s because of the] rotation and then he’s still not 100 percent. You can see that on perimeter runs and we felt that Carlos [Hyde] had little more juice in his legs," Meyer said on Monday.
Robinson did, of course, fumble for the first time this season on the drive before the red-zone drive. It would make little sense if the Jaguars used that as a reason to sit Robinson considering the various other mistakes players on the roster make without losing playing time, but Meyer didn't make it seem like that was a big factor.
"A little bit. I’m sure Bernie [Running Backs Coach Bernie Parmalee] talked to him and [Offensive Coordinator Darrell] Bev[ell] and all those guys on the sideline. I did briefly. But the answer I got was rotation and Carlos [Hyde] felt like should be in the game.”
Should Robinson have been on the field more on Sunday, even if not 100%? Yes. The Jaguars didn't use Hyde as much in the previous two weeks despite Robinson dealing with the same injuries. Whether he should have been on the field isn't a question, but the trust in Hyde is the Jaguars' answer for why he wasn't.
Q: If you had to guess right now, what are the odds Urban is still the HC of this team Week 1 of next season — same for Baalke as GM?
A: I would say there is an 85% chance of Meyer being the head coach. I truly don't think Shad Khan would move on from Meyer after one year no matter how bad the season goes, but I will lend 15% here because I do think there is a scenario where Meyer himself would step down from his role due to the difficulty in the transition thus far. I don't expect this to happen, obviously, but I won't act like I don't think there isn't a small chance of it happening.
As for Baalke, I will say there is a 40% chance he returns. I don't think the Jaguars can go into the offseason without making some kind of wholesale changes to prove that they have learned from the mistakes of 2021, but I also think the Jaguars' brass trusts Baalke and knows that the Jaguars were never going to be a quick fix. Still, I could see the Jaguars finding a better fit for Meyer as Meyer learns more about the ins and outs of the NFL.
Q: Meyer said recently that he loves bunches and trips. So why do you think we haven’t seen ANY AT ALL practically. Does Bevell really only like isos? Also, do you think we fire him after this season?
A: I would be surprised if Darrell Bevell is still the Jaguars' offensive coordinator after this season unless we see rapid improvement on offense over the next six weeks. Considering the injuries and other issues currently on offense, this seems unlikely.
I don't think the Jaguars have done things such as bunches, trips, motions, etc., to an astoundingly low rate. They are a very average NFL offense in terms of modernization and how they operate, but they are far from barbaric and playing with leather helmets. You simply sometimes have to win one-on-one downfield and no scheming of players changes that.
Q: Why have the Jaguars had so many penalty problems??
A: I truly don't know. The penalties haven't been of just one kind, either. If it was a problem with false starts or holdings or pass interference, that is one thing. But it has been a little bit of everything, with the Jaguars having pre-snap penalty issues on offense, defense, and special teams in recent weeks. It has come from veteran players such as Jawaan Taylor, Lerentee McCray, Rayshawn Jenkins, and Roy Robertson-Harris, too.
Simply put, the Jaguars are not a team that does the little things right. Just look at Lawrence's interception vs. Atlanta for example -- if the Jaguars didn't line up incorrectly, then the Falcons would have been flagged for offsides. Instead, simple procedural things have continued to hurt the Jaguars, which to me points to an issue with hammering out the details as opposed to a discipline issue. The Jaguars are simply a sloppy team.
Q: Who replaces Dan Arnold? The offense could have used him against Atlanta
A: James O'Shaughnessy is the only answer that makes sense, but he isn't the same type of player as Arnold. O'Shaughnessy has solid speed for a tight end but he simply isn't the same athlete that Arnold is. Each is a pass-catching tight end, but Arnold is more of a threat both downfield and on screens and actually had the flexibility to be lined up on the outside. O'Shaughnessy can replace some of his targets in the middle of the field, but he can't replace Arnold's explosiveness.
Q: What pick do you think the Jaguars enter the draft with?
A: No. 2 overall. I see the Jaguars picking up another win and going 3-14, but I don't think they finish with a worse record than the Houston Texans or New York Jets, each of whom the Jaguars are still set to face this season. At the very worst, I would imagine the Jaguars pick No. 4 or No. 5 and no lower.