Welcome to the first edition of our Jacksonville Jaguars offseason fan poll series! We’ll be posting a question here each week in place of the in-season Reacts Surveys.
First up: Which position should the Jaguars front office prioritize bolstering this offseason?
Over the last week, Jaguars Twitter/X has been buzzing with the news of Ryan Nielsen’s hire as the Jaguars’ new defensive coordinator. Nielsen had relative success with the Atlanta Falcons this past season as their first-year defensive coordinator; the Falcons ranked 11th overall in total defense this season after ranking 27th overall the previous season. With Nielsen’s historical defensive success relying heavily on man coverage schemes, many Jaguars analysts predict the Jaguars prioritizing their secondary in free agency. Others point out Nielsen’s historical success as a defensive line coach and suggest bolstering the interior defensive line as an ideal first step.
Which position should the Jaguars prioritize improving during the offseason?
This poll is closed
Interior Defensive Lineman
While a reasonable argument could be made for each of these positions, the interior offensive line would be my foremost priority this offseason. Anyone who has watched the NFL playoffs these past couple of weeks (or really, any football ever) can attest to the monumental impact of consistent pressure on a quarterback’s performance. Even QB Supermans like Patrick Mahomes find their kryptonite in a formidable pass-rush: the Chiefs lost all 4 games (against the Lions, Ravens, Broncos, and Raiders) in which Patrick Mahomes was pressured at least 20 times. Conversely, adequate protection can make average quarterbacks look like MVP candidates (see: Jared Goff and Brock Purdy). It is no coincidence that the Eagles, Lions, Ravens, and Bills all have top-5 offensive lines, according to PFF.
Compare this to the Jaguars’ 31st-ranked offensive line. Trevor Lawrence was under constant pressure, and Travis Etienne was unable to find run lanes with any consistency. Together, this significantly limited our offense and ultimately led to Lawrence collecting more injuries than wins over the last 6 games. However, despite his late-season struggles, I still believe in Trevor Lawrence as a franchise quarterback. Likewise, Travis Etienne is an extremely talented running back whose performance is capped by abysmal run-blocking. I have no doubt that this would be a very different offense with a top-10 offensive line, and improving the interior offensive line is the first step in getting there.
Jags fans, what do you think? Let us know your full thoughts in the comments below!