After being defeated by the Patriots in the 2017-2018 AFC Championship, the Jaguars were embarrassed the following season going a lackluster 5-11. They were 1-5 in the division and scored 172 less points than the 2016-2017 season. The Jaguars did have tough divisional competition (the Texans and Colts both made the playoffs, with the Titans close behind), but their performance last season was abysmal. The Jaguars need to revamp their offense tremendously to compete with the talent surrounding them in the AFC South. Here are the three keys the Jaguars need to execute to turn the offensive suffering of last season into triumph next season:
- Get Nick Foles: With the Eagles moving on from Nick Foles in favor of Carson Wentz, Foles needs to be the Jaguars top priority. Foles showed last season he can perform well in the playoffs, has excellent leadership traits, as well as humility, and is a difference maker on and off the field. Foles galvanized the Eagles offense leading them to three straight wins to close out the regular season, two of which were against other playoff teams. The Eagles offense averaged 29 points per game during that span and were an electric force making the playoffs. He’s a former Super Bowl MVP and has the legacy and talent to change a team. The Blake Bortles era needs to end now. The 2014 #3 overall pick from UCF has not panned out for the Jaguars and his only notable contribution was an almost Super Bowl berth. Bortles threw for under 3,000 yards last season in addition to 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Change for the Jaguars offense needs to start with the focal point; Bortles needs to exit to make way for the Super Bowl Champion Foles.
- Leonard Fournette needs to put it together: After being the #4 overall choice in the 2017 NFL draft, Leonard Fournette capped off his rookie season with over 1,000 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns. He disappointed in his second season playing only eight games and rushing for under 500 yards. I understand that a good chunk of that was injury related, but some was also personal (poor conduct leading to suspension). He needs to get his attitude under control, in addition to getting healthy. The Jaguars need him to produce at a higher level than his rookie season and it showed as they leaned on him heavily during their journey to the AFC Championship. Even with a struggling Bortles, Fournette was able to spark the offense enough to get them as close as possible to the promised land. The Jaguars offense just doesn’t exist without Fournette, and it showed this last season.
- Draft D.K. Metcalf: No one has made more spark in this draft class than D.K. Metcalf. He ran a 4.33 40-yard dash, had 27 reps for bench press, and jumped a 40 ½ inch vertical. Oh, and he also has only 1.9% body fat. He has wowed the football world with his incredible physique and is deserving of much praise. The one thing I didn’t know is that he does have an injury riddled past in college. That may cause him to go a few spots below where he’d like, but the Jaguars would be a tremendous fit. CBS Sports currently projects the Jaguars passing on Metcalf and the Bills taking him at #9. It’s no secret the Jaguars need a wide receiver. I understand they had guys hurt last season, but the results nonetheless were atrocious. They had no receivers top 750 yards and the receiving corps almost as useless as Bortles was. If the Jaguars make the splash to get a quarterback in the draft, or the abovementioned Foles, they need to give their new quarterback someone to throw to. The worst thing the Jaguars could do is get the new leader for the future and then stifle their progress with no weapons around him. Metcalf will be around at that pick, is a massive, physically fit talent, and provided he stays healthy, he could add a major spark to a team like the Jaguars that need it badly.
So, all that being said, where would that leave the Jaguars in the AFC? That’s a tough question for multiple reasons, but much of that answer lies in the division. The Texans and Colts both made the playoffs, while the Titans were one of the next teams out for a wildcard spot. The AFC South is no joke. I believe if the Jaguars revamp their offense, however, they can make the playoffs. I believe they can beat the Titans twice and split with the Texans and Colts. Those extra wins would put them at 8-8; this would put them very close to playoff contention. If they squeeze in the playoffs, they could be a very tough out. With top teams like the Chiefs, Patriots, and Chargers still around, I can’t proclaim the Jaguars to be favorites in the AFC just yet. That newly revitalized offense is the ticket to making it to the playoffs. The Jaguars will need their defense back to top levels as well, but the answer to their problems starts on the offensive side of the ball. Just these three key offseason moves will mean a world of change come the start of the regular season.