Connect with us

Jacksonville Jaguars

2018 Jaguars Training Camp: Twitter Mailbag!

Zach Goodall

Published

on

Jun 14, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) and cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) walk to the field during mini camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Football is back in Jax!

The Jacksonville Jaguars kick off their training camp practices tomorrow, in preparation for a run at defending their 2017 AFC South Division Championship. Expectations are high at TIAA Field, and the energy is as positive as it’s been around the Jaguars in about 10 years.

Fans are excited as well, so we took to Twitter here at Locked On Jaguars for questions that the fan base wants answered before camp kicks off. Can the secondary remain as dominant as it was last year after the loss of Aaron Colvin? Will any Jaguars players be nominated for end-of-the-season awards? Let’s get to the Q&A.

From @IrishJaguar: Does a Jaguars player win an individual award this year (e.g. DPOY, Rushing title, etc)?

The Jaguars have 10 returning starters on their defense this year, a unit that ranked 1st in pass defense (169.9 yards per game), 2nd in points per game (16.8) and total yards (286.1), it’s easy to assume there will be a defender or two considered for Defensive Player of the Year. Yannick Ngakoue, who had 12 sacks and six forced fumbles last season, and Jalen Ramsey, who recorded four interceptions and 17 defended passes in 2017, are the first two names that come to mind for the award.

Considering the Jaguars ran the ball on 49.5% of offensive snaps last year — leading the NFL by almost 2% — the rushing title could be Leonard Fournette’s to take, as long as he stays healthy. The offense runs through the second year bell-cow running back, who looks to improve on his 1040 yards and nine touchdowns from last year with an improved interior offensive line ahead of him. The team signed free agent guard Andrew Norwell to a five year, $66.5 million contract to help improve the team’s inside run game, where they ran on 64% of rushing plays last year.

From @TWEETS_BY_MITCH: What realistic expectations can we have for DE Dawuane Smoot in his second year?

Dawuane Smoot was on the field for 24.4% of the defensive snaps last year, but with first round pick Taven Bryan transitioning from defensive tackle to 5-tech defensive end in camp, Smoot may not see his snap count increase as much as he’d like this season.

Smoot was Calais Campbell’s backup at 5-tech last year. He possesses average athleticism with a 7.18 3 cone and 4.77 40 yard dash for a defensive end, standing at 6-3, 264 lbs. If he can display growth during camp as a pass rusher, the team may make his role more versatile and let him back up both end spots, the big-endd 5-tech and the wide defensive end role that Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr. play.

Growth as a pass rusher will be important for Smoot as he enters his second year in a position group — the Jaguars’ defensive line as a whole — that’s as deep as it gets. Assuming he carves out a role from this growth, I’d project him to play about the same amount of snaps this year and accumulate some run stops and one or two sacks.

From @_boog1: Can we talk about the development of QB Blake Bortles last year? What’s changed with the offense becoming simpler for him?

I think the second part of the question hits the nail right on the head. The offense got a huge makeover last year in transitioning to a heavy power-run scheme. Leonard Fournette became the team’s bell-cow right out of the gate, and teams were forced to respect his ability to wear-and-tear defenses down.

With defenses shifting focus to stopping the run, unlike we’ve seen in year’s past where teams would stack the box to apply pressure and force Bortles’ into a bad decision, Bortles got to play more comfortably. He didn’t have to play with the game on his shoulders like he has during his entire career prior to 2017.

On top of the run game becoming a stress-reliver, offensive coordinator Nate Hackett drew up a simpler playbook for the QB. The passing game resembled West-Coast concepts that required short, accurate, and anticipated throws from Bortles, and despite shakiness at times, Bortles handled it pretty well. He found a new favorite target in WR Marqise Lee on crossing routes, and that comfort level turned into a four year, $34 million extension for Lee.

The biggest thing for Bortles is consistency. Going into his second year in Hackett’s system, he will need to take control of the offense and continue to make the simple throws he’s asked to make while also continuing to limit mistakes. If he can do so, the offense will flourish.

From @YoJoeCool: Would the Jags keep WR Allen Lazard and use him as a TE? Seems like they prioritized him during the UDFA period.

Allen Lazard offers an intriguing skill-set that is best suited in the redzone. While standing at at nearly 6-5, 227 lbs, he doesn’s possess the greatest speed, running a 4.55 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine.

Lazard’s vertical jump was impressive, however, coming in at 38 inches. The combination of his size, vertical athleticism, and ability to come down with contested catches and asjusting to the football would give the Jaguars’ passing game something it doesn’t currently have.

I don’t see the Jaguars moving Lazard to tight end, however. That position is already a little bit crowded with Austin Seferian-Jenkins locked in as the starter and Niles Paul, Ben Koyack, and James O’Shaughnessy battling for backup roles and reps.

Lazard will compete for the sixth receiver spot with Rashard Greene, Jaydon Mickens, and Shane Wynn. Those three receivers are all similar, as they can handle the slot and return punts. However, with Dede Westbrook and D.J. Chark, who can also return punts and move around as receivers, regarded as locks to make the roster, Lazard’s unique ability could make those three expendable if he impresses in camp.

From @BenCNU804: If we have a season with similar success like this past season, do you think teams start to reach out to Todd Wash and Nate Hackett for head coaching jobs?

Definitely. The easy assumption is that Todd Wash would become a hot commodity on the head coaching market next January, as the Jaguars’ defense was top in the league last year and has the talent and continuity to finish as the league’s best defense this year as well.

Hackett could also receive some calls if the run game takes the next step this year and Bortles builds upon his solid 2017 campaign. I’d consider Wash to be the more likely candidate, though.

From @_boog1: Can we discuss the development of the WR Corps? How Keelan Cole went from an UDFA to possibly a WR1 by mid-season and the impact Keenan McCardell has had on the development of these WRs.

Keelan Cole’s ability to contirbute in this offense was evident before the team even put pads on in training camp last year. He flashed the ability to stretch the field, specifically by consistently hauling in go-routes down the field. As the season wore on, he began to grow as a route running, cleanly adding posts and corners to his deep game as well as some intermediate outside routes.

The biggest thing for Cole is consistency in the underneath passing game. It’s easy to point at his 17.8 yards per catch last year and label him as a deep threat, but the team is confident he can grow into a complete receiver. He’s going to be one of the most intriguing players to watch during camp.

As for McCardell, well, look at the player we just talked about. No one knew who Keelan Cole was before Jaguars’t training camp, as the former Kentucky Wesleyan product went undrafted in 2017. Now, Cole is on a clear path to becoming the Jaguars’ most versatile receiving threat, and I believe McCardell has been a key factor in his development. Now, McCardell faces another project in second round pick D.J. Chark, who possesses great intangibles with 6-3 size and 4.34 speed, but still has room to grow with the fundamentals of playing receiver in thr NFL.

But with coach McCardell in charge of Chark’s development, I’m confident Chark will grow into a big-time threat in the Jaguars’ passing game as well.

From @alexmahoney10: Is the Jaguars’ secondary going to live up to that standard of greatness it set for itself last year, even with the loss of Aaron Colvin?

The loss of Aaron Colvin isn’t as big of a deal than some fans believe it is, in my personal opinion. That isn’t a criticism of Colvin at all, as I was an advocate of Colvin playing a bigger role than just nickel cornerback, whether it be in Jacksonville or elsewhere, but the responsibilities of a nickel cornerback in a Cover 3-heavy scheme aren’t nearly as difficult as a boundary cornerback.

The Jaguars’ nickel cornerback has more responsibility in the run game than their boundary cornerbacks, naturally, as the nickel CB lines up closer to the hashes rather than the numbers on the field. In the passing game when running Cover 3, the nickel corner often covers the flats in place of the SAM linebacker’s coverage responsibilities in the same defense. Colvin was incredibly efficient at this, but I don’t believe this skillset is as valuable as the ability to play outside, especially in a Cover 3.

D.J. Hayden, who the Jaguars’ signed to replace Colvin, has had a shaky career when playing outside. However, the team is confident he can fill the role Colvin left absent after signing with the Houston Texans to take on outside responsibilities. With two All-Pro’s in Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye playing outside cornerback, and a combined eight interceptions from safeties Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church, this secondary possesses the talent and continuity to be dominant yet again in 2018.

Zach Goodall covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for the Locked On Jaguars podcast and website. Follow him on Twitter @zach_goodall.

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars’ Doug Marrone on Najee Goode: “I thought he made some good plays in space”

Demetrius Harvey

Published

on

Oct 13, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Najee Goode (52) reacts during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

After a struggling time at weakside linebacker against the Panthers, the Jaguars replaced rookie Quincy Williams with eight-year veteran Najee Goode against the New Orleans Saints

The Jaguars had to make a decision this week: go with the young rookie linebacker from Murray State or with a grizzled veteran free agent brought in over the summer. The decision was quite easy after a rocky game against the Carolina Panthers for Quincy Williams, and the Jaguars settled on starting eighth-year linebacker Najee Goode.

Goode went on to play for the Jaguars yesterday against the New Orleans Saints and played well. Much better than Williams had a week prior, which should be expected considering Williams is quite raw coming out of an FCS school in Murray State.

Against the Saints, Goode made key tackles in space, playing within his gaps to make plays in the run game, as well as rushing the passer. On the day, Goode was credited with six tackles (three solos), one pass defended, and a sack. Although he is not extraordinary, Goode has done enough good things on the field to pose the question: should he remain the starter at weakside linebacker?

“I thought they did some good things. I think we’ll look at the film. I’m sure there’s some things they want back, but I thought, overall, the gap control early on… one of the things we’re working on is guys staying where they were,” Marrone said on Sunday when asked about the linebacker play. “From a standpoint of where we were last week to where we were this week, that was a great improvement.”

Goode did play well, as did the rest of the linebacker group including often-criticized linebacker Myles Jack. The defense held the Saints’ offense to 104 yards on 26 carries including only 31 rushing yards by Alvin Kamara. When asked about playing with Goode on Sunday, Jack offered a ton of praise.

“I thought Najee [Goode] did really good,” Jack said. “Being a veteran, he knows ball so me and him on the field, we can talk things out. He alerts me on concepts, and I was alerting him on stuff. It was kind of like having a second middle linebacker on the field.”

The Jaguars have lacked the sort of veteran presence on the second-level due to playing Williams so early. Goode replaced Williams during the offseason and seems to be trending in the right direction to replace him for much of the rest of the season. At least until Williams is ready.

Having someone who can call out alerts on concepts is highly important and allows players like Jack and Leon Jacobs to move more freely without having to worry about making up for Williams’ mistakes.

Marrone spoke about the issue on Monday during a conference call after reviewing the film from Sunday.

“I thought he played well,” Marrone said when asked about Goode’s play from Sunday. “I think you’re always going to want some plays back, especially early on in the game. You look at the first half and we really struggled early on [on offense] and I think the first half we gave up 11 yards rushing. So, that second level, and being at the right place and making sure that we handle our gaps is important. I thought he made some good plays in space; he made some nice open-field tackles. I thought he did a very good job.”

While Goode did play well on Sunday, Marrone seemed to keep the door open for Williams to remain in the starting lineup. “So again, we’re still working with Quincy [Williams]. We’re still going to keep bringing him along and we’ll just take it week-by-week and a lot of it depends on what’s in the game plan and what we’re trying to get accomplished of who plays.”

Working with Williams is fine, however, the Jaguars must decide whether he needs more time to learn before throwing him back to the wolves. For now, Goode should be the starter, until he’s not.

Continue Reading

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Saints: Five observations from Sunday’s 6-13 loss

Demetrius Harvey

Published

on

Oct 13, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (right) and quarterback Nick Foles (left) look on during the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars had their most brutal game offensively against the Saints yesterday and were simply outmatched at the end of the day in their 6-13 loss on Sunday.

The Jaguars will have to regroup and figure out a way to play consistently both offensively and defensively down the stretch if they want an opportunity to play in the playoffs this January. For now, they are a team with pieces to get them there but have not played like a complete unit except for their week three win against the Tennessee Titans.

Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone took the blame for Sunday’s loss during his post-game press conference.

“It starts with me. I’ve got to do a better job. I told the team [that] I like their effort, playing hard, we’ve just got to perform better, really.”

1. Gardner Minshew hadn’t played like a rookie — until Sunday

Jaguars rookie quarterback Garnder Minshew has been the talk of the town over the first six weeks of the regular season for his play since taking over for an injured Nick Foles. Before yesterday, Minshew completed 110 out of 165 of his passes for 1,279 yards, nine touchdowns, and one interception.

Yesterday, however, was simply not his day. Minshew completed only 14 of his 29 attempts for 163 yards and an interception.

After the game, Minshew placed the majority of the blame on himself, saying “Yeah it was a tough day; they are a good team. I missed some balls that I can’t miss. They played good coverage at times and got after us upfront at times. We’ll go look at the film and figure out what we need to fix.”

Much of the rookie’s issues stemmed from what the Saints did defensively. This included taking the Jaguars out of a position of strength by containing Minshew within the pocket and taking his most reliable receiver — DJ Chark Jr. — out of the game by bracketing him and placing their best cornerback, Marshon Lattimore on him.

Minshew will need to step his game up in the coming weeks, especially if the Saints laid out a blueprint on how to stop him. When Minshew did try to step up in the pocket, he was unable to get anywhere.

2. Jaguars defense played extraordinary on Sunday

The Jaguars defense was the talk of the town exiting their loss against the Carolina Panthers a week ago where they allowed 285 rushing yards — the second-most in franchise history. This week, the Jaguars were able to rebound on defense, allowing only 104 yards on the ground.

Saints’ running back Alvin Kamara gained only 31 yards on 11 attempts. Easily his worst day at the office this season on the ground. Multiple players including, Taven Bryan, Josh Allen, and D.J. Hayden were major pieces to the puzzle on Sunday.

While they did give up some yardage through the air — 240 yards on 24 completions –, the Jaguars did well in stopping the Saints. New Orleans converted only 5 out of 13 (38%) of their third-downs yesterday.

“We played good ball, but we didn’t capitalize off when we needed to,” Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye said yesterday after the game. “Our mentality is if offense puts up points, then we have to stop them. We gave them some X plays and runs that we couldn’t finish off. We played good red zone defense which made it a little hard for them to get in the end zone and score on us. This is a learning experience. We are going to come in tomorrow and watch film and work on the areas we were slow to cover.”

3. Jaguars need to find a number two receiver, and fast

Yesterday, it was clear the Jaguars had no answer for the Saints pass defense which blanketed DJ Chark Jr. for much of the day. Chark Jr. was only able to get free on a couple of designed routes towards the middle of the field.

Receiver Dede Westbrook was able to get free for a few catches (three for 53 yards on the day), however, for much of the afternoon, he was slowed considerably, forcing Minshew to check down to running back Leonard Fournette who led the team in receptions with six receptions for 43 yards.

Chris Conley — another featured receiver — was unable to get anything going after being targeted three times. Conley had zero receptions on the day and failed to create much separation.

After the game, Conley voiced his frustrations going against the Saints’ defense stating, “Yeah, that is frustrating. We knew how they were going to play the game today. We knew that DJ [Chark Jr.] was going to draw double-coverage, and we have to execute in other spots. They played a little different than what we expected. We expected them to double DJ, but we didn’t expect them to play two-man all-day basically. We have to win versus two-man [coverage].”

The Jaguars will have to learn how to maneuver around tough situations and especially cover two-man coverage moving forward. If they do not find a receiver who can win against single coverage all day, they are in for a long remainder of the season.

4. Nickel corner DJ Hayden is the Jaguars’ best defender

As a player who does not receive nearly as much praise as he deserves, Hayden is playing the most consistent football out of any player on the Jaguars’ defense. Hayden was able to make multiple plays on the ball in yesterday’s contest and executes open-field to perfection.

On one key play, Hayden stopped Kamara in the open field on a screen which almost assuredly would have been a big gain. Hayden is playing injured with a sore foot and has continuously performed well on the field. Jaguars’ defensive coordinator Todd Wash praised Hayden for his toughness just last week as he battled the foot injury, getting him in the game against Carolina.

“It was bothering him a lot last week,” Wash said. “And I think our training staff and our doctors have done a real good job of rehabbing him and getting him in position to be able to play this week.”

5. Leonard Fournette is playing his best brand of football

Fournette is playing fantastic football on the ground for the Jaguars and has consistently been one of their best players despite his poor showing against the Tennessee Titans. Finding his groove, Fournette ran hard and got tough yards with an offensive line that continues to have consistency issues.

For the year, Fournette has run 115 times for 584 yards and one touchdown. He has also added 26 receptions for 189 yards. If the Jaguars offense has any bright spot exiting week six, it is him.

Continue Reading

Jacksonville Jaguars

Minshew Magic fades as Jaguars offense falters in 13-6 loss to Saints

Demetrius Harvey

Published

on

Oct 13, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) scrambles with the ball against New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Shy Tuttle (99) during the first quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars struggle to get anything going in a “must-win” game at home in their 13-6 loss to New Orleans Saints. 

In what was the most disappointing performance of his short career, Jaguars’ rookie quarterback Garnder Minshew struggled mightily to get anything going in the passing game in what was likely due to how the Saints’ defense played the Jaguars receivers and the Jaguars’ signal-caller throughout the game.

Indecisiveness, happy-feet in the pocket, and inaccurate throws were all on display this week for Minshew. Minshew completed 14 out of 29 of his passes for 163 yards and an interception on the day. Zero touchdowns marked the first time all season the rookie quarterback was not able to get the ball in the endzone.

Where the passing game struggled, so did the Jaguars’ rushing attack. Jaguars’ running back Leonard Fournette only accounted for 20 carries for 72 yards (3.6 yards-per-carry) which ended his streak of 100-yard rushing performances at only two.

Receiver DJ Chark Jr. spoke about the defense he saw against the Saints today in the post-game open locker room stating, “When they covered us, they were in Cover 2 man [coverage] throughout the game. Personally, on my end, Marshon Lattimore did a very good job by covering me along with the safety which made it harder for me to run my routes on my end of the field. ”

The Jaguars will have to figure out a way to move the ball better than they did against the Saints today, and part of it comes from coaching. Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone said in his post-game press conference that the coaches have to do a better job schematically when the receivers are struggling to get any separation.

In what is a form of a role-reversal for the Jaguars, the Jaguars played extremely well defensively which has not been their calling card the past two weeks. The team has only played one complete game all season where the Jaguars’ offense and defense seemed to be in sync the entire game — against the Tennessee Titans.

GAME RECAP: 

After opting to defer to begin the game, the Jaguars’ defense was ready to contain the Saints’ offense throughout the entire game. The longest play allowed by the Jaguars’ defense was a 27-yard pass in the first quarter to Saints’ wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. For the most part, the Jaguars’ defense was able to completely shut down the Saints opening few series, and pretty much the entire game.

The Jaguars defense bagan the day by forcing the Saints to punt twice before having to settle for a field goal, which would be the team’s first points of the game. This wasn’t a game of many offensive plays as both teams struggled to move the ball with any urgency throughout the entire game.

The Jaguars’ first points of the game would come on a 22-yard Josh Lambo field goal near the end of the third quarter, tying the game 3-3 at halftime in what could only be described as a defensive struggle at that point in the contest.

Not being able to get anything going offensively, Minshew would add insult to injury by throwing an ill-adviced interception only three plays into the third quarter to Marcus Lattimore. After the game, Minshew said he and Chark, had a sort of miscommunication which led to an errant throw. Chark stopped on his route and expected the ball to be placed inside, and Minshew threw the ball outside. It was the rookie’s first interception since week one of the regular season.

Able to capitalize on the Jaguars’ mistake, the New Orleans Saints would drive down a short field to score a 21-yard Will Lutz field goal, taking the lead for the second time today. Needing to recover from the interception, Minshew would go on to conduct his best drive of the day completing three out of four of his next passes for 37 yards driving the ball deep into Saints territory. A Cameron Jordan sack stopped any thought of the Jaguars scoring a touchdown and they instead would be forced to settle for another field goal, tying the game at six, deep into the third quarter.

The Jaguars’ defense would come up big during the day as they limited Saints’ running back Alvin Kamara to only 31 rushing yards on 11 carries. A complete 180 from last week when they allowed 285 rushing yards to Christian McCaffrey and the Carolina Panthers.

The Saints’ next scoring possession would come at the start of the fourth quarter when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would find Jared Cook over the middle of the field for a four-yard touchdown putting the Saints lead to — what seemed like — an insurmountable 13-6 lead.  The closet the Jaguars would get to the end zone would come on the drive right after. On a fourth-and-two, instead of electing to kick a field goal or punt the football at the Saints’ 40-yard line, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone went for it.

A Minshew incompletion would stop the Jaguars from getting any further, and ultimately would be the team’s last opportunity to score. The Jaguars did get the ball one more time but amounted to only four yards on a late fourth-quarter drive.

The Jaguars will have to regroup for their contest next week against the Cincinnati Bengals. Both teams are struggling currently, and if the Jaguars want to have any chance at making the playoffs this year, they will need to steal a win in Cincy.

Continue Reading

Trending