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Jaguars’ DJ Chark: City, team ‘deserves something to look forward to’

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DJ Chark Jr. is entering his third season with the Jaguars, ready to continue on his path to excellence.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

“Touchdown DJ Chark Jr!”

That phrase was uttered eight times throughout last season by Jaguars play-by-play announcer, Frank Frangie, as Chark posted breakout numbers in just his second season, tallying 73 receptions for 1,007 yards and the aforementioned eight touchdowns in a Pro Bowl campaign.

This season, Chark is ready and willing to do what it takes, not to be the best receiver in the NFL, but to help his team win.

“This city, this team deserves something to look forward to,” Chark told reporters today when asked about his thought process for this season. “

“So, that first starts with me as being a guy that’s trying to be there for my teammates trying to get the right energy going. We [are] very young, so now, you know, I’m kind of forced out of the shadows to speak a little more, but at the end of the day we just want to win that’s what we’re here for win play football.”

Yesterday, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone spoke about Chark’s mindset heading into 2020, a similar mindset to that of defensive end Josh Allen, a want to win and a team concept rather than individual accolades.

“That’s a whole different conversation than the one of, ‘Hey I want to catch x amount of balls, I want to be a 1,000-yard receiver, I want this touchdown,’” said Marrone.

“These are how these guys are talking where, whether you’re a coach, whether you’re a fan, whether you’re someone who wants this team to do well you really can get excited about that. That’s how DJ is. DJ says, ‘How can I get with Gardner Minshew more? How can I help these young receivers that are coming in?’

While he has had success and is certainly in the position to take on a leadership role in the team’s receiving room, Chark doesn’t assume he will take a leadership role in the traditional sense. He won’t be the guy to call meetings or telling players what to do, rather, he is there to simply play football and offer any help to his teammates that he can if they do come to him to ask questions.

“The way I view leadership is a lot different. I don’t really like being the guy that appoint myself to leadership. I feel like real leaders shouldn’t always want to be the leader, if that makes sense,” said Chark when asked about taking more of a leadership role in 2020.

“But I understand the situation that I’m in, so I understand that young guys come in, they look at the roster, they realize that ‘A. I’m in a room with a Pro Bowl receiver,’ but honestly, I’m still looking at [Jaguars wide receiver] coach [Keenan] McCardell because he’s done it multiple times.”

Prior to becoming the team’s wide receivers coach in 2017, McCardell played in the NFL for 17 seasons, making the Pro Bowl twice in 1996 and 2003, while being apart of the 10,000 receiving yards club, comprised of only 50 players in NFL history. The work and teachings McCardell has given Jaguars receivers is well documented, and cannot be overstated.

The Jaguars, and Chark, will enter the season with yet another offensive coordinator, the third for Chark in as many years.

While the attempts to build a cohesive offense has failed in the past, with the additional weapons the team has drafted and signed in free agency, along with the emergence of Gardner Minshew II, there has been a feeling of finality among players and coaches under Jay Gruden’s system.

“It’s showing on the field, the chemistry is showing on the field,” Chark said.” This is the most connected I have felt to the offense, and to the players on the offense, in a long time. So, with the addition of Coach [Jay] Gruden being a head coach, knowing how to get his guys ready, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of his players, we are in good shape.”

The Jaguars’ receivers and quarterbacks have met multiple times throughout the offseason to work together and continue to learn the team’s playbook. Gruden’s aggressiveness, the spacing and the different combinations deployed are something that excites Chark, he says.

“I actually talked to Gardner [Minshew] yesterday about it, asking him if the offense was being tailored to his strengths. He’s very confident about that, which is good. If he’s happy, and he’s comfortable, that makes everybody else comfortable. So, I think it is going to be a pretty good season for us offensively.”