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Jacksonville Jaguars

Five areas the Jaguars must focus on during their bye week

Zach Goodall

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Sep 23, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone yells to an official during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars are where no one expected them to be: Two games below .500 at the midway point of their 2018 season.

On a four game losing streak. With little-to-no hope of making the playoffs, less than a year removed from being 10 minutes from a Super Bowl.

However, this team is talented. This team has the ability to win as they proved in dramatic fashion in Weeks 2 and 4 against the Patriots and Jets. And in a not-so-strong AFC South, the Jaguars do have a chance to right the ship and get things rolling after their bye week to get back in contention.

What must they do on their week off to turn this thing around?

1. Utilize the phone lines before Tuesday’s trade dealine

With the majority of the Jaguars issues stemming from their lack of offensive production and consistency, GM Dave Caldwell needs to spend the next couple days on the phone.

The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, October 30th, at 4 P.M. And it’s supposed to be crazy, with several surprising trades that have already happened in the past couple of weeks. Considering the rumored available players remaining, including several intriguing offensive players, the Jaguars need to make some moves.

The team could make calls for quarterbacks, such as Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater and Browns QB Tyrod Taylor, if they believe giving starter Blake Bortles a three year extension this past offseason was a mistake. While it certainly looks like that contract was a mistake, the Jaguars have been stubborn on their belief in Bortles, going back to him as the starter most recently as last week after benching him for Cody Kessler against the Texans. So a QB trade probably isn’t overly likely, but there are options.

A trade for a receiver, tight end, or offensive lineman seems much more likely than a QB, and there are options at those positions as well. Dolphins WR DeVante Parker is rumored to be on the block, and after an impressive six catch, 134 yard game on Thursday night, the Dolphins phone lines have to be buzzing. Jacksonville has dealt with a ton of bad drops from receivers lately, namely from Keelan Cole and running back T.J. Yeldon, and could use a big-play target who doesn’t drop the ball like the Jaguars have been doing. Parker has three drops on his past 109 targets, dating back to the start of 2017.

Other options the Jaguars could look at on offense include a pair of Oakland Raiders players. The Raiders have completely gutted their roster this year and are selling players on all fronts, and it’s hard to count them out for more moves before the deadline. TE Jared Cook and OL Kelechi Osemele should be a priority for the Jaguars if they decide to call up Jon Gruden.

Cook is an aging, yet productive, tight end who would provide veteran expereince and pass-catching ability to the Jaguars remaining healthy tight ends, a group that is relatively unproven at the NFL level. Cook has 32 receptions for 400 yards and 2 TDs this season. He’d likely be a cheap trade option, as he is in the final year of a inexpensive contract.

Osemele is a Pro Bowl offensive lineman who has starting experience at every position except center, who can upgrade the left tackle position through the end of the year and finish out his contract at right guard by letting A.J. Cann walk in free agency, who has had an up-and-down career for the Jaguars.

2. Re-iterate the run game as the Jaguars offense’s identity

The Jaguars have made it known they want to run the ball consistently going back to when Doug Marrone was named head coach before last season.

So why have running backs received only 48 carries on 252 total offensive plays (19%)? What was the point of trading for Carlos Hyde, a guy the team tried desperately to get on the field less than 48 hours after trading for him last week, to only give him six carries in his debut? With multiple down-and-short scenarios that are the literal bread-and-butter plays for a power-run offense to convert with a power running back?

The Jaguars need to return to their identity, because throwing the ball 40+ times a game isn’t cutting it. Spending a draft pick on Carlos Hyde looks ridiculous if you aren’t going to use him and return to the “run-first” identity. Even with Leonard Fournette out due to his hamstring injury, the Jaguars have the ability to be a power-run team and use T.J. Yeldon as a change-of-pace back like what seems to be the “old days”, thus taking pressure off of the passing game and maybe being able to put more points on the board.

3. Move Linder to left tackle, play Shatley at center

Despite writing about this late last week, the idea of moving Brandon Linder to left tackle needs to be a priority during the bye week if the Jaguars don’t trade for a lineman.

Linder has received a vote of confidence from Marrone as a candidate to play left tackle in a pinch, as noted in the article, and Tyler Shatley has played very well as a reserve across the interior offensive line, specifically at center.

The bye week gives the Jaguars plenty of time to work Linder in at left tackle slowly so he can gain comfort dropping back as a pass protector, which would be the biggest difference in his blocking compared to center. Considering he’s a great interior pass protector, there should be hope he can do a better job outside as in pass blocking than Josh Walker has provided through four games. That also gives Shatley time to get in a groove with the first team offensive line, and the return should equal less pressure on the quarterback going forward.

4. Emphasize linebacker discipline in zone coverage

PFF stats were not updated through Week 8 by the time this article was posted, but the Jaguars linebackers have been miserable in zone coverage so far this year.

It’s widely known the Jaguars play much better on defense when in man covergae and send additional pass rushers, but Todd Wash stubbornly runs a ton of zone. Thus, opposing QBs are eating in underneath zones with receivers running short routes and running backs making plays in the pass game.

Through Week 7, Jaguars LBs Telvin Smith and Myles Jack have allowed 41 of their 58 targets (70.1%) to be caught, for 394 yards and 210 yards after the catch. They often play either too deep or bite on play action in which the middle of the field completely opens up, and offenses are eating that space up.

If you’re going to continue to run zone, your linebackers need to get a clue as to where to be in coverage and not bite so easily on play action. Teams know they need to get the ball out quickly against the Jaguars’ high-pressure pass rush, and the LBs are giving offenses the opportunity to do that in the muddle of the field. This has been a signifcant issue for the Jaguars defense when playing zone and has to be corrected going forward.

5. Get a grip on this Jaguars locker room

A week ago, players were reportedly involved in shouting matches in the locker room that resulted in defensive end Yannick Ngakoue getting restrained by fellow DE Calais Campbell.

On Friday night, four Jaguars were arrested in London for reportedly walking out on a $65,000 bar tab at a night club.

And a four game losing streak will never result in a happy attitude in the locker room.

The Jaguars could turn this thing around, despite the future looking dark. This team is obviously talented and the season is only halfway over. There is plenty of time to get things flowing the right way, and one of the most important things that needs to happen in order to do so is to correct the attitude and become more responsible. Whether it be discipline, a benching to “create a spark” a la Blake Bortles getting benched against the Texans, or anything to send a message in the locker room that this team can turn things around if they remain united and disciplined.

The Jaguars culture shifted for the better with the presence of Tom Coughlin, as well as Marrone as head coach inside 1 TIAA Bank Field Drive last season. That culture appears to be slacking at this point, and may be the most important thing to re-enforce this week.

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

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Jacksonville Jaguars

2019 NFL Draft: Jacksonville Jaguars Senior Bowl Wish-List

Zach Goodall

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Sep 21, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; UCF Knights running back Taj McGowan (4) reacts after his rushing touchdown during the second half against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Spectrum Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Senior Bowl, an annual NFL Draft prospect all-star game in Mobile, Alabama, has sent out its first wave of invitations for their 2019 exhibition. NFL scouts from every team will be in attendance, as the NCAA’s best senior football players will be putting their abilities on display.

Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell has a strong history of liking Senior Bowl prospects. Last year, the team drafted two players they watched in Mobile in WR D.J. Chark (2nd round) from LSU and QB Tanner Lee (6th round) from Nebraska. Caldwell has also selected DE Dawuane Smoot, TE Ben Koyack, OL Brandon Linder, LB Telvin Smith, CB Aaron Colvin, RB Denard Robinson, CB Dwayne Gratz, and SS Johnathan Cyprien after watching them at the bowl game.

The 2019 Senior Bowl will be packed with talent that the Jaguars will need to keep a close eye on. Chris Thornton and I will be attending the week of practice and game, reporting on who the Jaguars meet with and eyeing prospects to watch for for the 2019 NFL Draft.

As invites continue to go out and get accepted, here is my wish-list of players who should be at the Senior Bowl, from a Jaguars need and fit perspective. For players who I haven’t watched in depth yet, I trust the scouts of The Draft Network’s analysis and have linked their scouting reports.

QB: Daniel Jones, Duke

There will be plenty of intriguing QB prospects in Mobile, and if Daniel Jones can graduate on time as a redshirt junior, he may be the most intriguing of the pack. The three-year starter comes from the Manning branch of QBs, as his head coach David Cutcliffe coached both Peyton and Eli during their college days and has the brothers attend the Duke offseason program yearly.

Jones is a West-Coast passing offense fit, which meshes perfectly with what the Jaguars run in a power-run offense. Jones doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as passers such as Justin Herbert (Oregon) and Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State), which drops his stock for me to the late first/early second round, but in what is regarded generall as a weak QB class, Jones could skyrocket up draft boards this offseason. Here is an in-depth scouting report that I did on Jones last week.

RB: Taj McGowan, UCF

Taj McGowan has never been a starter during his four-year career at UCF, but he’s flashed enough to warrant a prospect bowl invitation for teams to see more of what he offers. The 6-1, 209 lb senior RB runs with a bruising style, and receives the buld of UCF’s goal-line and short-yardage carries. He has posted a career stat-line of 239 carries for 988 yards and 17 touchdowns.

McGowan fits the Jaguars power-run style of offense where backs mainly receive the ball and target the interior offensive line. While he won’t get drafted high at all come April, he deserves a chance to prove himself and potentially find a way to get his name called on Day 3, or at worst get signed as an undrafted free agent. The Senior Bowl can provide that opportunity.

WR: Anthony Johnson, Buffalo

While Tyree Jackson gets all the hype out of the University of Buffalo, Anthony Johnson is a draftable prospect from the MAC program and is Jackson’s No. 1 target in the pass game. The 6-2, 207 receiver is impressive at making sideline catches and adjusts to poorly thrown passes well, however isn’t overly athletic and has a limited route tree. He would be a bit of a developental prospect, but his size and ability to make plays are intriguing.

TE: Tommy Sweeney, Boston College

While watching guard Chris Lindstrom from Boston College, Tommy Sweeney caught my eye with his size and ability as a pass-catcher. He stands at 6-5, 255 and comes from a power-running system so he is familiar with in-line blocking, which he excels at.

He’s not going to win contested catches, but finds wasy to get open and bring the ball in with few drops. He’s not the most dynamic or intriguing tight end in this class, but he appears to be a high-floor type of prospect who could serve as a solid No. 2 behind Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

OL: Chris Lindstrom, Boston College

A true old-fashioned, power scheme guard who eats defenders alive in the run game, Lindstrom is the ideal A.J. Cann replacement and one of my favorite Jaguars-fit prospects in this draft. Lindstrom is a fantastic, athletic pull-blocker who understands man-responsibility and has a strong anchor and constantly drives through linemen when down-blocking. He mirrors well in pass protection as well but his pass block punches can be inconsistent. Lindstrom is a dream lead-blocker along the interior for a running back in any power scheme, so he’d become Leonard Fournette’s best friend in Jacksonville.

iDL: Cortez Broughton, Cincinnati

While working on a film room piece for BlackandGoldBanneret.com for the upcoming UCF vs. Cincinnati game, one player that stood out to me on the Bearcats defense was tackle Cortez Broughton. The 6-2, 290 lb senior has recorded 17.5 tackles for loss through ten games this year, which is more than several projected first round picks such as Alabama’s Quinnen Williams (14), BC’s Zach Allen (13.5), FSU’s Brian Burns (13.5), and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell (13).

Broughton is a great run-stuffer who usually takes on and beats double-team down blocks while maintaining ap responsibility. He isn’t an overly agile pass rusher and won’t “wow” you with his moves, but he could provide valuable depth as a rotating, run-defending nose tackle at the next level.

EDGE: Jalen Jelks, Oregon

Jelks is a big-bodied EDGE defender at 6-5, 245 lbs, who is considered a bit of a project among draft analysts, but has desireable traits with quickness off of the line of scrimmage and raw power.

This sounds similar to what we heard about Taven Bryan as a prospect last year, and the Jaguars clearly feel comfortable adding these types of project players to their defensive line. Jelks could immediately provide pressure as a Dante Fowler Jr. replacement at defensive end and develop into a long-term starter if Taven Bryan were to move back to defensive tackle (where I believe he belongs).

LB: T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin

I never thought I’d say this, but the Jaguars are missing the presence of Paul Posluzny on defense. Not from a play standpoint, as he truly had slown down in the final years of his career which led to bad pursuit of runners and blown coverages in the middle of the field, but as communicator and gap shooter vs. the run.

That mold is what Edwards provides. The 6-1, 248 lb linebacker is a natural run-stopper and physical defender who controls the playing field and offers four years of valuable paying experience, where he has recorded 34.5 tackles for loss and nine interceptions. He isn’t considered rangy in pass coverage, but serviceable.

CB: Michael Jackson, Miami

The Jaguars are in need of outside cornerback depth, with the position getting banged up this year and keeping two undrafted free agents on the roster as the current depth. Jackson fits that mold and is also an excellent special teamer. He stands at 6-0, 205 lbs, plays physical in coverage and coming down to make a tackle, and has recorded four career interceptions and nine defended passes. He hasn’t recorded an INT this year, which may be concerning, but the Jaguars don’t need to go cornerback early so Jackson dropping down draft boards could be in their favor if they are interested in his services.

S: Ugochukwu Amadi, Oregon

The 5-9, 197 lb safety is a little short, but he’s incredibly fluid and athletic in space as a guy who can roam and get the ball. A rangy coverage defender, Amadi can be the heir apparent to free safety Tashaun Gipson a la Ronnie Harrison to Barry Church at strong safety for the Jaguars.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Steelers: Friday Injury Report, A.J. Cann Questionable

Demetrius Harvey

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Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers have released their Friday injury report ahead of their matchup at TIAA Bank Field this weekend. The Jaguars will most likely be without Left Tackle Josh Walker as he is listed as doubtful. The Jaguars will be without Rookie Corner Quenton Meeks as he is listed as OUT for Sunday’s game. Ereck Flowers will start in Walker’s place at left tackle with Patrick Omameh very likely being his immediate backup.

Luckily for the Jaguars, although they will not have Meeks, they will have A.J. Bouye back from his calf injury suffered shortly before the Eagles matchup a couple of weeks ago. This should be a boost to the Jaguars secondary.

Nose Tackle Eli Ankou will also likely miss this Sunday’s game, which was worth keeping an eye on due to the fact that Marcell Dareus was battling an injury of his own and is listed as questionable this week. Luckily, Dareus will likely be able to at least suit up for the Jaguars this Sunday.

Guard A.J. Cann is questionable this week as well, and if he cannot play, the Jaguars will likely turn to either Chris Reed to start in his place or to newly signed guard/tackle Patrick Omameh.

Bouye, Gipson, and Telvin Smith are not listed on this weeks status report indicating they are good to go for this Sunday’s game.

Below are the teams’ injury reports:

JAGUARS:

CB Quenton Meeks (Knee): Out

OL Josh Walker (Foot/Ankle): Doubtful

DT Eli Ankou (Calf): Doubtful

OL A.J. Cann (Hamstring): Questionable

DT Marcell Dareus (Triceps/Back): Questionable

STEELERS:

DE Stephon Tuitt (Elbow): Out

OL Marcus Gilbert (Knee): Out

For the Steelers, they will be without tackle Marcus Gilbert for the fourth straight week, and they will also be without tackle Marcus Gilbert. James Conner, who practiced fully all of this week, will be good to go.

Because of the injuries the Jaguars will face a familiar face on the Steelers defensive line in DE Tyson Alualu. The Steelers will start Matt Feiler. This will be the fourth consequtive start for Feiler.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Steelers: Thursday Injury Report, Josh Walker likely Out

Demetrius Harvey

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Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers have released their Thursday injury reports ahead of this Sunday’s game at TIAA Bank Field. For the Jaguars, they are finally back healthy after weeks of having several starters miss practice during the week. Although they are not *fully* healthy, the Jaguars starters that are on the injury report will more than likely play, and will be practicing in some capacity today.

The only key injury worth noting this week has been to Left Tackle Josh Walker. Walker has started for the Jaguars for several weeks after Josh Wells went down with an injury. All indications point to Ereck Flowers starting for the Jaguars this week. He will have his hands full with T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree.

Jaguars Cornerback A.J. Bouye, who missed the past two games with a calf injury, looks good to go this week as he has so far been able to tough it out in practice.

The only additions to this weeks injury reports have been  Tashaun Gipson with a wrist injury and Marcell Dareus with a triceps injury. Neither of those injuries appears to be bad enough to miss this Sunday’s game, however, we will keep a close eye on the status report to be released tomorrow.

A late addition to the Jaguars injury report this afternoon was OL A.J. Cann. Cann suffered a hamstring injury and was limited today.

If the Jaguars miss Cann this week they are potentially in big trouble. Omameh would likely start for Cann.

Below are the teams’ injury reports:

JAGUARS:

CB A.J. Bouye (Calf): Full Participation

S Tashaun Gipson (Wrist): Full Participation

LB Lerentee McCray (Hamstring): Full Participation

LB Telvin Smith (Shoulder): Full Participation

OL Ereck Flowers (Knee): Limited Participation

DT Marcell Dareus (Triceps): Limited Participation

OL A.J. Cann (Hamstring): Limited Participation

CB Quenton Meeks (Knee): Did Not Participate

DT Eli Ankou (Calf): Did Not Participate

OL Josh Walker (Foot/Ankle): Did Not Participate

STEELERS:

QB Ben Roethlisberger (Coaches Decision): Full Participation

RB James Conner (Concussion): Full Participation

G Ramon Foster (Coaches Decision): Did Not Participate

OT Marcus Gilbert (Knee): Did Not Participate

DE Stephon Tuitt (Elbow): Did Not Participate

The Steelers will more than likely be without two key starters, and neither of those starters will be James Conner. Conner entered this week in the concussion protocol and the past two practices he has been able to practice fully.

Conner will suit up for his first start against the Jaguars defense that has to be hungry after completely ruining the Jaguars chance at victory last week.

The Steelers will be without Stephon Tuitt and Marcus Gilbert most likely.  No one else on the Steelers small injury report is in danger of missing the game.

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