JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars had been one of many league’s surprises in 2022, changing into simply the fifth group because the 1970 merger to win their division after having the worst file within the NFL the earlier season.
They gained their final 5 regular-season video games to win the AFC South, beat the Los Angeles Chargers in a wild-card playoff sport and put up a struggle with the eventual Tremendous Bowl champion Kansas Metropolis Chiefs within the divisional spherical.
With an skilled, Tremendous-Bowl profitable head coach, a top-10 quarterback, a gifted group of pass-catchers, some younger expertise on protection and a division that features two groups selecting within the prime 10 of the NFL draft, the Jaguars appear to be the favourite within the AFC South in 2023.
That doesn’t imply there isn’t work to do, although.
“I feel momentum can carry you, however yearly is completely different,” Pederson mentioned. “We’re making an attempt to construct one of the best roster identical to the 31 different groups proper now. We are able to study from what we did, particularly the second half of the season. I really feel like we’ve bought the appropriate guys, the appropriate make-up, the chemistry, the locker room is stable. These are the belongings you construct on.
“That’s the momentum you’re speaking about with these guys proper there. Guys which have been in Jacksonville [for several seasons], they’ve type of gone via some robust occasions. Now this previous yr, they bought on the opposite facet of that. That’s the problem now of protecting that rolling as we head into ’23.”
No less than the Jaguars will not go into this season with main questions concerning the offense the best way they did in 2022:
Is Trevor Lawrence, the primary general choose in 2021, an elite quarterback?
Did the franchise make a mistake by giving receiver Christian Kirk — a participant who had by no means had a 1,000-yard season — $37 million assured?
Can working again Travis Etienne Jr. be a characteristic again?
Is tight finish Evan Engram price $9 million?
Sure, no, sure and sure. Many of the gamers from the NFL’s tenth-best offense in 2022 are coming again in 2023, however that doesn’t imply there isn’t work to do.
Right here’s a have a look at the roster and whether or not every offensive place group is ready, wants some tweaking, or wants extra work:
Quarterback — Set
The Jaguars shouldn’t have to fret about this spot for a very long time with Lawrence, who threw for 4,113 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2022. His second-half surge — from Week 9 on he was second within the NFL in passer score and completion proportion — and the best way he rallied the Jaguars from a 27-0 first-half deficit within the playoff victory over the Los Angeles Chargers erased any doubts about his future. Veteran backup C.J. Beathard re-signed on a two-year deal however it wouldn’t be out of the query for the group to take a position a late-round choose in a venture QB that might finally take over as Lawrence’s backup.
Operating again — Must be tweaked
Etienne (1,125 yards) is the primary 1,000-yard working again that Pederson has had in his six seasons as a head coach. Etienne must be higher with ball safety (5 fumbles, three misplaced) and work on taking much less massive hits. The issue with this place group is there’s not a lot expertise behind him.
Etienne had 220 carries final season and the 4 gamers behind him — Qadree Ollison, JaMycal Hasty, Snoop Conner and Mekhi Sargent — have a mixed 107 profession carries. Hasty had a 61-yard landing run in opposition to the Indianapolis Colts, however averaged 3.0 yards on his different 45 carries. The Jaguars used a fifth-round choose on Conner final yr they usually may use one other late choose on a again this yr. In the event that they don’t and a type of 4 doesn’t step as much as be the clear No. 2 behind Etienne, they may mine the ultimate roster cuts so as to add a participant, which is how they landed Hasty final season.
Broad receiver — Set (ish)
It might appear off to say the place wants just a little work as a result of the Jaguars have added Calvin Ridley and Kirk (84 catches for 1,108 yards) and Zay Jones (82 for 823) set profession highs in receptions and receiving yards of their first yr within the offense. Nonetheless, no person is aware of what to anticipate out of Ridley. If he’s the 2020 Ridley (he caught 90 passes for 1,374 yards and 9 TDs whereas taking part in with a damaged foot) then the Jaguars might have one of the best group of receivers within the league. Nonetheless, the 2023 season opener will mark 23 months from Ridley’s final sport and there’s no solution to know the way — or if — that layoff will affect him. If he struggles the Jaguars might choose to maneuver on after the ‘23 season (he’s taking part in on a fifth-year possibility). Even when he performs properly and the Jaguars prolong him, they nonetheless want to consider bringing in a younger receiver that might step right into a prime three function in a yr or two.
Tight finish — Wants extra work
Engram set single-season franchise information for catches and receiving yards by a decent finish final season (73 for 766). These additionally had been profession highs, too, and the Jaguars used the franchise tag on him whereas they’re making an attempt to work out a brand new contract. When you get previous Engram, although, there are solely two different tight ends on the roster: Luke Farrell (11 profession catches) and Gerrit Prince, whom they signed as an undrafted rookie and spent the 2022 season on the apply squad. Anticipate the Jaguars to deal with this place on the draft.
Offensive line – Wants some tweaking
Proper deal with Jawaan Taylor had one of the best yr of his profession and was the Jaguars’ most constant lineman in 2022, however in free company he signed with Kansas Metropolis on a four-year, $80 million deal. Walker Little, the No. 45 general choose in 2021, ought to slide into the beginning spot, however the Jaguars should discover a backup deal with. Left deal with Cam Robinson is coming off a knee damage however is predicted to be cleared by the beginning of the season. Proper guard Brandon Scherff performed via ankle and stomach accidents however didn’t miss a sport and was stable in his first season with the Jaguars. If he can keep wholesome the Jaguars hope he can return to the Professional Bowl degree at which he performed 2019-21.
Middle Luke Fortner performed each snap and was the Jaguars’ finest rookie final season, however the group needs him to get stronger within the offseason. Left guard is the one spot the place there’s a query. Tyler Shatley stuffed in solidly after starter Ben Bartch went down with a season-ending knee damage. Shatley is a useful reserve who can also play middle however the group needs higher inside line play general and left guard could be the spot they appear to improve within the draft.