The 2020 NFL season is less than 50 days away. For the Jacksonville Jaguars, this offseason has been about change. Several key veterans were released or traded away, and the team spent 12 draft picks on young talent. The Jags also declined to bring in a veteran quarterback, opting to stick with Gardner Minshew after a break-out rookie campaign. This season, Doug Marrone is likely on the hot seat and will need to put together a successful year in order to keep his job. So, the question arises: What does 2020 success for Jacksonville look like? The team is not expected to be a playoff contender. Success this season can’t be measured based solely on wins. Here are three factors that will help judge whether or not the team was successful.
What Does 2020 Success for the Jacksonville Jaguars Look Like?
Perhaps the biggest sign of a successful season for the Jaguars will be the play and development of quarterback Gardner Minshew. Minshew burst onto the scene last season when Nick Foles went down in the season-opener with a shoulder injury. The 6th-round pick stepped in and immediately looked comfortable in the offense. Minshew appeared in 14 games with 12 starts and compiled over 3200 passing yards and 21 touchdowns with only six interceptions. He also flashed his running ability, often escaping pressure and extending drives. However, a glaring negative was his ball control. Minshew fumbled the ball an alarming 13 times. While some fumbles can be attributed to immediate pressure from the edge, it’s inexcusable to lose the ball that often. Minshew needs to cut down on fumbles while improving his touchdown numbers to prove he is a franchise quarterback. If he can do this, it will be a big success for Jacksonville.
Red Zone Success
One of the biggest shortcomings in 2019 was the Jaguars’ inability to finish drives. The Jags scored a touchdown on only 40% of their red zone drives. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers ranked worse in red-zone efficiency than Jacksonville. The offense struggled heavily inside the 10-yard line, ranking last in the league for rushing touchdowns (3). New offensive coordinator Jay Gruden will look to turn things around. In each of his coaching stops, Gruden’s offenses have converted more than 45% of their red zone drives. Finishing drives with touchdowns will also help take the pressure off of a very young defense.
During the 2019 season, the Jaguars defense struggled to get off the field. A large part of this was their horrendous run defense. Jacksonville ranked 28th against the run, allowing 23 touchdowns on the ground and an average of 5.1 yards per attempt to opponents. The Jaguars signed linebacker Joe Schobert this offseason to man the middle in an attempt to upgrade the run defense. Following the release of Marcell Dareus, defensive tackle Taven Bryan will inherit a bigger role. The former Florida Gator showed promise in the second half of the 2019 season as a run-stopper. Bryan saw an increased snap count percentage over the last seven games of the season and tallied 28 tackles with 4 being for a loss. The front seven will need to improve from last season and force teams to abandon the run and allow their pass rushers to impact the game.
Setting Up for the Long-Term
Unless major collapses occur, the Jaguars will not be a playoff team in 2020. As far as the record, Jacksonville will likely hover between five and seven wins. However, purely record should not be the measuring stick of a successful 2020 season. The development of their young quarterback, an improved red-zone offense, and an improved rushing defense will be big factors that show how successful the Jaguars actually were. If Minshew continues to develop and proves himself to be a franchise quarterback, a 6-10 season will have a lot less of a sting for Jags fans.
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