The Jaguars are one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Without a significant emphasis on veteran players on the construction of the team’s roster, many of the team’s longtime veterans have been lost, replaced with budding talent. While being a young team oftentimes leads to thoughts of promise and optimism, the Jaguars haven’t been successful, and were not successful in 2019 after attaining a 6-10 record.
In general, the team does have some promising young players including at key positions such as quarterback, defensive end, wide receiver and along the offensive line. Three areas which are vital to a teams success.
Currently, the Jaguars have one of the youngest rosters in the NFL, ranked seventh (25.51 years old) in terms of overall average roster age which includes every player currently signed by the team, and tied for third youngest (25.7 years old) when taking into account all players who contributed in 2019.
Over time, the Jaguars have attempted to build a team led by very few veterans, but instead an insurgence of young, talented players via the draft and free agency.
On opening day against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019, the Jaguars used 11 first or second year players at some points during the game, including seven which started or played a significant number (more than 20) of snaps, including guard/tackle Will Richardson, tackle Jawaan Taylor, quarterback Gardner Minshew II, wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. safety Ronnie Harrison, defensive end Josh Allen, and linebacker Quincy Williams.
By week 17, the Jaguars deployed 13 first or second year players against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Jaguars have undergone multiple rebuilds of the roster, however they have consistently stayed just below age 26 in terms of their average age during the season. When the team went to the playoffs just two seasons ago, the Jaguars’ average age was actually equal to their average age now — 25.7.
One pitfall from fielding such a young football team can come in the discipline area. While many attribute it to coaching, typically an inexperienced player or one that isn’t as talented will commit fouls. In 2019, the Jaguars’ were second in the NFL with 132 penalties, and rookie tackle Jawaan Taylor led the team with 15.
The optimism which stems from having such a young roster comes with high expectations, however they have fell short of expectations, and have for several seasons — constantly reshaping the roster in an effort to regain relevance. Even players that were expected to carry the team early in their careers have been run off the roster or not lived up to expectations, further exasperating the team’s issues throughout the years.
Aside from the Minnesota Vikings, teams which competed in the playoffs this season held an average age of at least 26 years old. Developing talent with experienced veterans along with a mixture of young, ascending players is an ideal formula for sustainable success over a long period of time. The Jaguars simply do not have the veterans in place to supplement their young pieces.
While the team has struggled, not all is lost as the team has shown to have a young, rising group of young players which should be counted on for the future as they continue to rebuild their roster following an AFC Championship game exit in 2017. Several young players such as Leonard Fournette, Chark Jr., Minshew II, Yannick Ngakoue, Allen, Harrison, Myles Jack, and Taylor — none over the age of 24 —, makeup a core of ascending and potentially very talented players for the team to work with in the future.
Moving forward, look for the Jaguars to continue developing their green talent, while acquiring talented veterans to fix their depth, and experience issues. Until then, expect the same mistakes to be almost on the brink of insanity without a reasonable expectation of growth.