The Jacksonville Jaguars are a defensive-minded team. There’s not much doubt about that. However, the team also has a run-first, smashmouth style on offense — and had the No. 1 rushing attack in the league with an average of 141.4 yards per game in 2017. The passing game, while unspectacular, ranked in the middle of the pack at No. 17 last season.
The Jags added a few players on offense this offseason, and lost a couple, too. Jacksonville’s offense is heading into the 2018 season entering their second full season under offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. That generally means continuity and improvement for an offensive unit. But not according to ESPN.
Bill Barnwell, a staff writer for ESPN, thinks the Jaguars have a bottom-tier offensive arsenal. He ranked Jacksonville No. 25 in his offensive “weapons rankings.”
Now, to clarify, Barnwell did not consider the play of the quarterback, offensive line, or scheme. This is strictly looking at skill positions. So, for once, a national analyst is not blaming Jacksonville’s offensive woes on Blake Bortles. He also gave more weight to wide receiver corps and is only basing his projections on how players will perform in 2018.
With that in mind, here is what Barnwell had to say about the Jaguars’ offensive arsenal:
“Leonard Fournette absorbed a huge workload when healthy in 2017, with the first-round pick’s numbers impacted by an ankle injury. The LSU product averaged 4.6 yards per carry before the injury in the middle of the season and just 3.2 yards per rush afterward. Fournette should be better, but the additions to the receiving corps raise question marks. Donte Moncrief never broke out in Indianapolis and will be paid $9.6 million for his one year in Jacksonville, which could cost talented young wideouts such as Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook reps they earned last season. New tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, meanwhile, averaged a scarcely believable 7.1 yards per reception last season, the lowest mark for any receiver with 50 catches or more in league history. Even if the Jags want to focus on running the football, they should give Blake Bortles something more at tight end than a catch-and-fall guy.”
By all accounts, Seferian-Jenkins has looked spectacular this offseason, often making highlight reel plays in OTAs and minicamp. If Barnwell is basing his rankings off of 2018 projections, I don’t see why ASJ’s low yards per reception average on a different team matters all that much.
I slightly agree that the wide receiver group is a bit of a question mark, but at the same time I feel like those who don’t follow Jacksonville on a daily basis truly understand the amount of talent the group possesses, and the amount of depth there (though Barnwell did mention that top level talent was more heavily-weighted than depth in his article). This is because there is no clear cut No. 1 wide out. There may be a log jam at the position, and Moncrief was underwhelming in Indianapolis. But he is another free agent addition that looked good this offseason. Time will tell how this group shakes out.
I also agree that Fournette is in for a better season in 2018, so long as he can stay healthy. He is still going to be the bellcow back in a run-first offense. If his vision improves and the offensive line can consistently open holes for the former LSU Tiger, I think the rest of the league should be on notice.
The Jaguars are not going to be called an offensive juggernaut anytime soon, but where I really have a problem is that Barnwell put teams like the Baltimore Ravens ahead of the Jaguars. I’m sorry, but I’ll take Fournette, Moncrief, Marqise Lee, Westbrook, Cole, ASJ and D.J. Chark over the likes of John Brown, Willie Snead, Alex Collins and two rookie tight ends. Michael Crabtree is a solid receiver, but I would still take Jacksonville’s skill guys overall.
Knowing the parameters for the list, what do you think. Did Barnwell get Jacksonville’s offensive arsenal ranking correct? Let us know in the poll below.
Did ESPN rank the Jaguars too high, too low or just right?
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