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Season in review: Comprehensive evaluation of the Jaguars 2019 offense

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Entering 2020 the Jaguars will have a lot of work to do on the offensive side of the football

New York Jets v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Entering the 2019 season, the Jaguars were destined to drastically improve their offense with the addition of veteran quarterback Nick Foles. However, the team’s offensive production, while improved in some areas, left plenty to be desired.

After signing Foles and hiring former Vikings offensive coordinator and Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, the marriage between Foles and the Jaguars made sense at the time, and with full strength along the offensive line and with running back Leonard Fournette the offense was expected to flourish.

After losing Foles only 11 plays into the regular season, the Jaguars offense relied heavily on their run game along with rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II which had mixed results.

While the team improved marginally in nearly every offensive category, there were plenty of shortfalls within the offense — which relied heavily on Fournette (32.7% of the team’s offensive production with 1674 yards from scrimmage).

In 2019, the Jaguars ranked in the bottom third in the NFL in points scored (300, 26th) and first downs (298, 27th), similar to their 2018 production where the team ranked 30th and 29th in the NFL, respectively. The team’s third-down efficiency was drastically lowered in 2019 in comparison to 2018. The Jaguars ranked 26th (33.55%) in third-down conversions in 2019, whereas they ranked 12th (40.43%) in 2018.

A simple explanation for the team’s poor third down play in 2019 comes from the amount of third-and-long situations the team faced. In 2019, the Jaguars were tied for 32nd (Oakland Raiders) in the NFL in yards-to-go (8.0) on third down, according to Pro Football Reference. In 2018, the Jaguars faced an average of 6.7 yards-to-go (fifth best in the NFL) on third down.

The Jaguars made no improvement in their redzone efficiency in 2019 compared to 2018 — another disappointing statistic for the team. In 2018 the team turned only 44.12% of their redzone attempts into touchdowns, compared to 40.43% in 2019. Both years the team ranked 31st in the NFL in redzone efficiency.

Jaguars 2018 offensive statistics
https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/jax/2018.htm
Jaguars 2019 offensive statistics
https://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/jax/2019.htm

Quarterback:

2019 roster: Gardner Minshew II (rookie), Nick Foles, Josh Dobbs.

Review: The Jaguars relied heavily on their rookie sixth-round quarterback Minshew II, with 12 starts (6-6). Upon returning from a broken left collarbone, Foles would start just three games (four total) for the Jaguars before being benched for Minshew II. The Jaguars traded a 2020 fifth round pick for Dobbs prior to the team’s week two matchup against the Tennessee Titans after losing Foles.

Foles completed 77 out of 117 (65.8%) of his passes for 736 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions in 2019.

Minshew II completed 285 out of 470 (60.6 %) of his passes for 3,271 yards, 21 touchdowns, and six interceptions. The Jaguars saw vast improvement out of their passing efficiency in 2019 with Minshew II under center, although there were ups and downs. The Jaguars rookie quarterback broke multiple rookie franchise records for the team and accounted for seven separate Pepsi Rookie of the Week honors — the most of any offensive rookie in the NFL.

2020 outlook: The Jaguars will begin the offseason with the same cast of quarterbacks as they will need to hold onto Foles (accounting for $21.875M against the team’s salary cap in 2020), and Minshew II will get a shot at earning the starting job during training camp. As of right now, the job seems to be Minshew II’s to lose.

Running back:

2019 roster: Leonard Fournette, Ryquell Armstead (rookie), Devine Ozigbo (rookie), Devante Mays, Taj McGowan (rookie), Jeremy McNichols, Paul Perkins.

Review: Only three running backs had any carries for the Jaguars in 2019. Fournette, Armstead, and Ozigbo. With 265 rushing attempts, Fournette became the team’s bellcow back. Armstead, the team’s rookie fifth-round pick in 2019, accounted for only 35 carries, with Ozigbo accounting for nine attempts.

Fournette was vastly improved in 2019 in both rushing and receiving with 1152 yards rushing (4.3 yards-per-carry) and 76 receptions (team-high) for 522 yards.

2020 outlook: The Jaguars relied too heavily on Fournette in their offense, however his production leaves the team with a positive outlook moving forward in their rushing attack. Mixing up their rushing attack in 2020 is a must, which will give Fournette (83% offensive snaps) more rest, and allow the team to attack defenses in a variety of ways.

Offensive Line:

2019 roster: Left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell, center Brandon Linder, right guard A.J. Cann, Will Richardson Jr., right tackle Jawaan Taylor (rookie), tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, guard/center Tyler Shatley, guard Brandon Thomas, guard Tyler Gauthier (rookie), guard/tackle Donnell Greene (rookie), tackle Blake Hance (rookie), tackle Ben Ijalana, guard KC McDermott, tackle Ryan Pope (rookie).

Review: Only Robinson, Norwell, Linder, Cann, Richardson, Taylor, and Ogbuehi received snaps for the Jaguars along the offensive line in 2019. After undergoing serious injuries at the position in 2018, the Jaguars offensive line was relatively healthy all season. After week three, the team had zero starting-five lineup changes.

Cann and Richardson split repetitions throughout the season at right guard with an unorthodox platoon system which enabled Cann to improve greatly from 2018 (three sacks allowed in 2019 compared to eight in 2018), and gave Richardson valuable experience (436 snaps) at the position.

Overall, the Jaguars offensive line left a lot to be desired. According to football outsiders, the Jaguars ranked 23rd in stuffed ranking — % of runs where the running back is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage, and ranked 27th in pass protections with 49 sacks and an 8.4% adjusted sack rate.

2020 outlook: The Jaguars will have to address some of the pass protection concerns they encountered during the 2019 season going into 2020. While Minshew II wasn’t sacked very often, too many times the rookie quarterback was forced to scramble due to a leak in the protection. Upgrades will be necessary during free agency and the draft, with a potential for Robinson to move to guard.

Wide Receiver:

2019 roster: DJ Chark Jr., Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, Marqise Lee, C.J. Board, Michael Walker (rookie), Terry Godwin (rookie), Charone Peake, Jayson Stanley (rookie).

Review: The Jaguars improved greatly in this department this season with Chark Jr. having a breakout year accounting for 73 receptions for 1008 yards, and eight touchdowns. Conley, a 2019 free agent signee, accounted for 47 receptions for 775 yards, and five touchdowns — all career highs.

The rest of the Jaguars receiving corp left much to be desired. Between Westbrook, Cole, Lee (six games), Walker, and Board, the Jaguars receivers combined for 97 receptions for 1,085 yards, and six touchdowns. Westbrook led the charge for the team’s reserves with 66 receptions for 660 yards and three touchdowns.

2020 outlook: While the team saw improvements in their receiving corp from 2018 to 2019, the Jaguars must look for additional receiving threats in either free agency or the draft, giving the team a true number two receiver opposite of Chark Jr.

Tight End:

2019 roster: James O’Shaughnessy, Josh Oliver (rookie), Seth DeValve, Ben Koyack, Nick O’Leary, Geoff Swaim, Charles Jones (rookie), Matt Sokol (rookie).

Review: The Jaguars weakest offensive department, the tight end position was riddled with injuries as the team lost starting tight ends O’Shaughnessy (ACL), Swaim (Ankle), and Oliver (back) to season-ending injuries. The Jaguars saw virtually no production from their tight ends as O’Shaughnessy led the group with 14 receptions, 153 yards, and two touchdowns in only five games played.

The rest of the team’s tight ends combined for 39 receptions for 312 yards, and one touchdown in 16 games.

2020 outlook: Perhaps the most important position to improve upon in 2020, the Jaguars will need to address the position in both free agency and the draft. The team will need Oliver to take a big step in year two as he continues to learn the NFL. There is no where to go but up for this group.