“I think it’s really important to have that guy.”
For the Jacksonville Jaguars, that guy is Marvin Jones Jr. He’s the one Offensive Coordinator Darell Bevell is referring to and is the key to the transition on offense in Jacksonville. The long time veteran and former Detroit Lion followed Bevell to Jacksonville this offseason as a free agent and stepped into the wide receiver unit as one of the most important position guys on the roster.
“Our receiver room is a young room, just guys that have been in the league for a couple years. To have that veteran to come in — one to kind of show them how he has lasted 10 years. That’s not the norm and he has done it at a high-level so how does he take care of his body? What does he do in the offseason? For me it’s like another coach over there in the receiver room because he has been with me for two years and we have coached up a lot of these things,” explains Bevell.
On one of the youngest teams in the league, the receiver room is no different. Ostensibly led by Pro-Bowler DJ Chark, only in his fourth year himself, the unit before Jones was rounded out by second years Laviska Shenault Jr. and Collin Johnson. Factor in a new head coach, a new OC and a new rookie quarterback, and the whiplash could easily cause a backlash.
Enter Marvin Jones Jr.
Continues Bevell, “There new stuff that’s added, but he is able to kind of able to be that voice in there and be like ‘Hey this is what he is looking for and this is what we like to do there.’ It’s invaluable to have a guy like that.”
So, understanding Jones’ position in the room and value to the unit, his evaluation of those around him becomes all the more reliable and important. Jones is the one teaching, leading and encouraging these teammates, so he knows better than most the progress they’ve made. Starting with DJ Chark.
Head Coach Urban Meyer has publicly and privately challenged Chark all offseason. He wants a stronger, more physical and well-rounded player. He sees a bright future for Chark, but only if the receiver is willing to get there. Jones has become his biggest cheerleader.
“We have those conversations definitely,” reveals Jones. “DJ [Chark Jr.], he’s doing well. He’s a playmaker. The dude’s a playmaker. He has the size, he has the ability and stuff like that. I came in and I told him, ‘Look, anything that I could do to help you, especially in this offense to get you going faster and get you feeling more comfortable, that’s what I’m going to do. So, just follow me and it’s going to be real good for you in March.’”
While Jones—a thousand yard receiver and the only player in the NFL with at least nine receiving touchdowns in each of the last two seasons—has the tape and experience to lead Chark on the field, he also sees everything in the young receiver that he needs to grow.
“The intangibles that he has, how fast he is, especially for his size, is great. I know he appreciates me on the other side, so I was like, ‘Yeah, expect something huge this year.’ It’s great to see, great to look at him roll, and I’m glad I’m on the other side.”
With Jones and Chark on each side, the man in the middle becomes Shenault. The young scat cat has just as many skills to be a deep threat, making him a dangerous man if his talents are funneled correctly. Jones is making sure that happens.
“I think his confidence level is up there. One of the things I told him, I was like, ‘Look, you have the ability to do some great things, especially in the slot that nobody really [does].’ He’s very unique. He has abilities I don’t think anybody has in the NFL and I think he’s starting to really understand that. You get that from year one going on to year two. You know that ‘if I do everything right, if I know where I’m supposed to be, if I know all my positions, it could be pretty easy.’
It's often said players make the biggest jump in the summer between year one and year two, as Jones alluded to, and that's already evident in Shenault. He’s been outstanding in training camp practices, consistently making plays against linebackers and defensive backs, high and low, in the backfield and downfield. And even for Jones, who very likely will be WR1, it's exciting to watch.
“I think he’s making that transition very well and his preparation in the offseason has been amazing. The dude’s explosive and I know you guys see it there. He’s making his plays. With the people that we have overall on our offense, it’s going to be a good one and I feel very confident that it’s going to explode.”
Marvin Jones Jr. can be “that guy” for the Jacksonville Jaguars this season. And if he is, his predictions for his teammates will likely come true as well, as he assist DJ Chark to have a huge year and Laviska Shenault to explode.