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A lack of talent is the apparent issue with the Jaguars

While the team embarks on yet another losing season, it is important to understand the issues are fundamental

NFL: MAY 31 Jacksonville Jaguars OTA Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Jaguars roster — in it’s current state — is bad.

Since the team began their five-game losing streak, multiple changes have been made. Practice habits, play calling, and player personnel have all been altered during one of the worst stretches of games in NFL history.

The issues, however, have not been resolved. The Jaguars have lost their last five games by an average of 23 points, including a 45-10 loss on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. Over the last fives games, the Jaguars have given up an average of 422 total yards, including an average of 193.6 rushing yards per game.

The issues have persisted, regardless of the changes being made and — at some point — the issue boils down to a lack of talent on the team.

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has continuously accepted the brunt of the blame for the team’s struggles — and specifically the previous five games of the season. Marrone did not go as far as blaming a lack of talent for the team’s poor play.

“You’ll never hear me say that talent is an issue for poor performance,” Marrone said via conference call on Monday when asked if the team’s issues ultimately boiled down to a lack of talent. “It’s my responsibility as the head coach to continue to push our coaches and push our players to improve on a daily basis.”

Marrone feels, as a head coach, assigning blame or making excuses such as injuries or talent, is pointless. It will not put him in the proper position to go about his job as the team’s leader. Whether it be to push players, coaches, or himself.

“My mind goes right back to, ‘OK, listen, I’m not going to sit here and mope or make excuses. How am I going to take this feeling, and go out and try to get a coach better, or a player better, or some support staff better?’ And that’s what I try to keep my goals at if I feel my mind going in a different direction.”

A head coach which does not point fingers, and is willing to go the extra mile to defend his players, and accept the brunt of the blame, is admirable, however, the team is currently fielding players who simply are not up to the challenge. The coaches should take a lot of the responsibility, but ultimately it does not fall solely on them.

While the Jaguars have attempted to build the team through the draft, they’ve mostly failed in evaluating quality talent — especially during the current regime’s infancy in 2013-2015. EVP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and General Manager Dave Caldwell have failed to provide the coaching staff, and players talent to replace or add to the current roster.

Collectively, there are four players from those rosters on the team — defensive tackle Abry Jones and offensive linemen Tyler Shatley, Brandon Linder, and A.J. Cann. Jones, Linder, and Cann play significant snaps for the team while Shatley is a backup interior lineman.

This season, the Jaguars have been unable to properly address any positions they’ve previously attempted to address, but failed. While 2017 showcased an impressively talented defense, much of that talent is gone — and should be forgotten.

Currently on the roster, the Jaguars are relying on young talent — first or second year players —, to propel them to victories. There are 12 first or second year players are playing significant snaps for the team over the past five games.

Jaguars Young Roster

Player Position Year Draft round 2019 Snap count Percentage (%)
Player Position Year Draft round 2019 Snap count Percentage (%)
Josh Allen Defensive End 2019 1 495 63.06%
Jawaan Taylor Offensive Tackle 2019 2 837 100%
Quincy Williams Linebacker 2019 3 459 58.47%
Gardner Minshew Quarterback 2019 6 653 78.02%
Andrew Wingard Safety 2019 UDFA 135 17.20%
Taven Bryan Defensive Tackle 2018 1 316 40.25%
DJ Chark Jr. Wide Receiver 2018 2 685 81.84%
Ronnie Harrison Safety 2018 3 631 80.38%
Will Richardson Right Guard 2018 4 383 45.76%
Leon Jacobs Linebacker 2018 7 205 26.11%
Tre Herndon Cornerback 2018 UDFA 637 81.15%

Now, typically having this many first or second year players suiting up for a significant number of snaps would not necessarily be an issue and — as Abry Jones pointed out — being young is no excuse, however, that is only the case if they were meant to be playing in the first place.

Jaguars linebacker Quincy Williams, a third-round pick out of Murray State has not played up to the standard of a starting NFL linebacker. Not all of which is his fault, the talent gap of a small school to the professional level is significant.

Safety Andrew Wingard, while he has made plays during the past two weeks, is an undrafted player out of Wyoming playing out of necessity — starting safety Ronnie Harrison has missed the last two weeks due to a concussion.

Surrounding these players — specifically on defense, are street free agents. Linebacker Donald Payne (63/63 snaps Sunday), defensive tackle Akeem Spence (32/63), linebacker Austin Calitro (26/63), and safety Marcus Gilchrist (17/63) are all players who were not on the roster before the season began.

As SI’s Jaguar Maven pointed out, the depth is made up of a bunch of assorted pieces and those pieces are being asked to play major roles.

Offensively, the Jaguars are starting a sixth-round rookie quarterback, which again, would not be an issue but Gardner Minshew II was not expected to play a significant role before the season. Surrounding him are four tight ends who were not on the team’s 53-man roster when the season began.

Tight ends Seth DeValve (preseason waiver claim), Charles Jones (first-year UDFA, practice squad), Ben Koyack (street free agent), Nick O’Leary (street free agent), have combined for a total of 16 receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown thus far this season. O’Leary — signed shortly after week 11 — leads the group with nine receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown.

The Jaguars issues are deeper than coaching. There is a talent gap on this team which — in certain instances — is similar to Florida Atlantic University competing against Ohio State University. The fix is not on the way this season, and the Jaguars will have to overhaul the team going into next season to alleviate it.