One year ago, it would have been beyond staggering to see Josh Lambo have to compete for a starting role. He was the Jaguars' lynchpin on special teams and the only reliable member of a team that was on a crash course for the No. 1 overall pick another losing season.
But fast forward to 2021, and all slates have been wiped clean. The entire roster will have to fight for their futures under a new regime led by head coach Urban Meyer -- even Lambo, who is now in a contested competition with fellow veteran kicker Aldrick Rosas for the Jaguars; starting job.
"The kicker situation, that’s exactly what that was. We have two guys that are very talented kickers, very talented. And we’re going to do that quite often before we have to make a decision," Meyer said about the competition on Monday.
On the surface, it could be surprising to see the Jaguars and Meyer make it a priority to ensure Lambo wouldn't go through the offseason without being pushed. Lambo has been clutch throughout his career in Jacksonville, nailing game-winner after game-winner. He has set franchise kicking records at a steady pace since signing in 2017 and has even made some big-time kicks in the playoffs.
But after a 2020 that was as disastrous for Lambo as it was for any other player on the roster, it isn't hard to think of a reason why the Jaguars would want to have some competition and insurance for their veteran kicker.
Due to a multitude of injuries, Lambo appeared in just four games last season and only attempted five field goals (making all five) -- though he was just 8 for 10 on extra point attempts.
As a result of Lambo's injuries, the Jaguars started six different kickers last season, the opposite of a recipe for success on special teams. The Jaguars didn't have Lambo's consistency, instead being forced to rely on a number of journeymen veterans. As a result, it is clear the Jaguars are exploring all options for the kicker position.
"Well, I think it’s what it is, it’s a competition. We’ve got two guys, they’re both very good kickers and they’re competing to win the job," Jaguars special teams coordinator Nick Sorensen said on Tuesday. "That’s what we’re doing every day and they’ve both been great.”
On paper, Lambo has the edge over Rosas. Lambo has completed 88.9% of his field goals and 90.8% of his career extra points, including going 16 of 21 from 50 or more yards out and 33 of 43 from 40+ yards.
Meanwhile, Rosas has made 81.4% of his career field goals and 92.2% of his career extra points, going 10 of 14 from 50 or more yards and 11 of 20 from 40+ yards. Just by breaking down the numbers, Lambo has been the more consistent and efficient kicker -- but Rosas has his support on the Jaguars' coaching staff.
“They’re both talented. I mean, Rosas, he’s had success in the past and he’s showing that he has the ability," Sorensen said.
"He’s showing that and this is a competition. That’s what it is, they’re competing every day, they’ve both done very well and they’re both very talented. So, that competition will continue.”
Lambo should be the favorite to earn the starting gig due to his reputation and the simple fact that he is one of the league's best kickers when healthy. But Lambo will still have to win the job. As a result, a job that was once undeniably his is now hanging in the balance and will have to be won in training camp.