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Big Cat Country Q&A: Let’s talk about the Jaguars’ future with John Shipley

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Let’s answer some Jacksonville Jaguars questions ahead of our Week 15 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens and (more importantly!) a very important offseason ahead for the team.

We’ve got a special one today — John Shipley is answering your questions! John is a Big Cat Country alumni and he currently writes for Fan Nation at Jaguar Report, part of the Sports Illustrated network.

Ryan from Mayport, FL

Q: How could the Jaguars be considering keeping Doug Marrone in 2021 if there’s no general manager in place? Would they expect the new general manager to accept Marrone as a condition for taking the job? Or is Trent Baalke likely to shed the interim tag?

A: Well, I’m not sure that’s actually as on the table as social media was making it seem on Sunday. It doesn’t appear as if Marrone’s fate has been decided yet — that much is clear as Shad Khan has already told him he won’t be fired during the season — but is there any real reason to think Khan will go back to him once again? After all, Marrone was given the same win-now mandate by Khan last offseason that Caldwell got.

I ultimately do think the new general manager will decide on Marrone’s rate in the event Khan doesn’t attempt to hire a head coach who oversees the entire operation of the franchise. As for Baalke, it’d be surprising if they didn’t at least grant him an interview considering his past experience and his year spent in Jacksonville. Does that make him any more likely of a candidate? Probably not.

Joe from Rochdale, England

Q: Are there any sleeper picks for general manager or head coach that you think could be linked to us?

A: I am going to go with Chicago Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly as the sleeper general manager. He interviewed with the Jets for their open general manager role in 2019 and he just seems like the king of respected and dynamic leader the Jaguars would be interested in. As for head coach, I’ll go with former Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell. Caldwell may not be the home run hire fans want, but he had the Lions looking like a respectable franchise and his track record with young quarterbacks is immaculate.

Joey from Tallahassee, FL

Q: The Jaguars are expected to have four top-50 picks in the draft. Quarterback looks to be the clear choice for the first pick. What positions would you target with the next three picks?

A: Jacksonville needs legitimate playmakers at cornerback and tight end. CJ Henderson had a good rookie year before being placed on IR, but questions at virtually every other corner spot moving forward are abundant. Meanwhile, they have no tight end on the roster who really looks like a weapon for the future. A tight end can be a rookie quarterback’s best friend, so adding one would make the transition to the next franchise passer a bit easier.

As for defensive line, the Jaguars will need to decide what they want to run from a schematic standpoint. Regardless of the scheme, they need better depth and options along the interior and in the edge moving forward.

Chevin from Jacksonville, FL

Q: How likely is it either of Justin Fields or Trevor Lawrence do not declare for the NFL Draft?

A: With all of the uncertainty facing college football, and with the mess that has been the 2020 season, I’m not sure there’s any remote possibility of either of them not declaring. There isn’t much either would really gain from it either, other than maybe avoiding the New York Jets.

Cameron from Fairfield, VA

Q: Are there any realistic free agent quarterback options available for Jacksonville this offseason, or are we locked in to finding an answer in the 2021 NFL Draft? Seeing Ryan Tannehill and Phillip Rivers have success in our division has been really tough to watch.

A: If Dak Prescott is available, there is a good argument for him to be the most attractive free agent to hit the market in years. It isn’t often a true franchise quarterback is available to sign, so the Jaguars should rush to attempt to sign him if possible in any scenario in which he’s actually a free agent.

Otherwise... it’s a pretty awful group. There’s Rivers, Cam Newton, Jacoby Brissett, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mitchell Trubisky, Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor, Colt McCoy, and... yeah, you get the idea.

Will from Jacksonville, FL

Q: Can we still consider DJ Clark a WR1? Is his lack of production on the quarterback situation or his struggles to adjust to being double teamed, etc...?

A: This is a hard question to answer right now simply because the failures of the quarterback position has made the entire offense difficult to evaluate. Chark is typically getting the targets that are of the highest degree of difficulty in the offense, so his margin of error is a good bit smaller than others on the unit.

It’s hard to blame just the quarterbacks for his struggles because he has left a few plays on the field throughout the season, but the tape has also shown a guy who is getting open consistently and getting a decent amount of bad targets. It’s a mix of everything right now.

I’ll ultimately say I understand if anyone doubts his place as a No. 1 WR, but all of the traits are still there. Plus, he’s had two sixth round picks and Mike Glennon throwing him the ball. That’s important!

Ruairi from Jacksonville, FL

Q: At this point, is the roster too stripped down to have a good chance at competing next year? Even with an early round quarterback, it seems safety, cornerback, edge rusher, defensive line, and offensive line are still an issue.

A: The Jaguars are not the one-year rebuild a lot of people think they are, for those reasons you just listed. The next regime will have a ton of pieces to build a team quickly, but most truly successful NFL programs take a few years to take off. Perhaps they could hit on the right coach and pull a Dolphins, but that would take some especially impressive hiring.

Samuel from Washington D.C.

Q: Urban Meyer being our next head coach. How realistic is it, and would it be a good fit?

A: It’s funny you asked! I wrote about this on Monday. You can read it here.

You can follow John Shipley on Twitter at @_John_Shipley and read all his work at Jaguar Report here.