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Jacksonville Jaguars

Preseason Week 1: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Baltimore Ravens preview

Demetrius Harvey

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Jun 3, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone enters the field during organized team activities at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

After a couple of days of grueling joint-practice work, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens will face off in their preseason week one matchup at M&T Bank Stadium. For the Jaguars, it will be another day to evaluate their team as they search for their ideal 53-man roster.

Game Time info

  • When: Thursday, August 8th, 7:30 PM  ET
  • Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
  • Watch: WFOX (FOX30 Jacksonville)
  • Listen: Jacksonville 1010XL AM, 92.5FM

Five Keys to Success

  1. Stay Healthy. This is will always be the number one key to success when the Jaguars take the field. After last years’ injury-riddled season, they can ill afford to lose any starters or key players heading into the regular season. Thus far, the Jaguars have stayed relatively healthy with only recently dealing with a serious knee injury to linebacker James Onwualu. If the Jaguars can get out of this game relatively unscathed, they should consider it a success moving forward.
  2. Build upon the offseason. This offseason, the Jaguars completely reinvented their offense by hiring a new offensive coordinator in John DeFillipo, and signing veteran quarterback Nick Foles to a 4-year $88M contract. Although the starting offense will not play much in this game — if at all — the Jaguars will want to build upon the work they have done in the offseason to get into a rhythm on the offensive side of the football.
  3. Solidify the offensive line. For the past two offseasons, the Jaguars have invested heavily in the offensive line. In 2018 they signed guard Andrew Norwell to a massive 5-year $66M contract, and just this past offseason they invested a second-round pick in tackle Jawaan Taylor. The Jaguars need to establish their five starters heading into the season and it starts this week against the Ravens. Although the starting offensive line will likely not play very much, building the chemistry early and often will be vital to their future success.
  4. Win the trenches. The Jaguars not only invested heavily in their offensive line, but they also invested in their defensive line selecting defensive end Josh Allen at seventh overall this offseason. Winning upfront will always be the key to victory for the Jaguars, and that doesn’t change just because it’s the preseason. The Jaguars must be able to pressure the quarterback and get enough push to stifle the run if they want to remain as dominant as they have been the past two seasons. Establishing the run on the offensive side of the ball will be just as pivotal as they look to build upon their early success in training camp.
  5. Enjoy it. Football is back, and that is something to be happy about. The Jaguars will play their first preseason game with new coaches, players, and leadership. If the team is flat coming out of the gate it may spell a bad sign for the future. The Jaguars need to come out energized or all the momentum of this offseason could be slowed down tremendously.

Key Matchups 

Jaguars defensive backs vs. Ravens tight ends

One area the Jaguars defense has always seemed to struggle with is guarding opposing teams tight ends. This week was no different as the Ravens during joint practices routinely picked on the Jaguars young safeties — Ronnie Harrison and Jerrod Wilson — when throwing to the tight end. Both Harrison and Wilson are entering their first seasons as full-time starters, and although they have looked good during training camp, this week against the Ravens tight ends was nothing to be excited about.

Releasing Tashaun Gipson in the offseason may have saved the Jaguars money, and a potential headache, however, it also put them in a position of weakness in the defensive backfield.

Jaguars wide receivers vs. Ravens defensive backs

The Jaguars had plenty of success this week working against the Ravens defensive backs. Consistently beating their starting cornerbacks down the sideline, and making plays in the middle of the field Dede Westbrook, Chris Conley, and D.J. Chark all had their fair share of the pie this week. This will be a key matchup to watch as the Jaguars look to solidify their wide receiver corp entering the regular season.

Once thought of as a position of weakness, the narrative on the Jaguars receivers could take a turn this preseason. The Jaguars are still in search for a replacement to Allen Robinson, who left in free agency in 2018. Until then, there is essentially an open competition and there may be a few “underdogs” — as coach Doug Marrone put it — to look for on Thursday.

Jaguars front seven vs. Lamar Jackson

Although he may not play much, in the time he does step onto the field the Jaguars need to be aggressive early and often against Lamar Jackson. Containing him not only with the front four but also with the linebacker unit will be something to watch for during this matchup. The Jaguars have struggled with scrambling quarterbacks in the past, and Jackson is easily one of the most electrifying in the NFL currently. Creating pressure, and crashing back down to avoid Jackson slipping away will be a key to success for the Jaguars defense on Thursday.

Six Players to watch

1. Nick Foles

Going on the assumption the Jaguars will play their starters for at least a series, Foles is a no-brainer. Although he might only play for a drive tomorrow, he will absolutely be under the spotlight as he receives his first bit of game action for the Jaguars.

Something to watch for in particular when it comes to Nick Foles is how long he holds the ball, how efficient he is on offense, and the overall feel of how he controls the game. The chemistry he has created with Jaguars receivers thus far in training camp has been fantastic, and building on that moving forward will be important.

2. Jawaan Taylor

Taylor is an interesting player for the Jaguars as he has not received all of the first-team reps as of yet. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone stated during the joint practices, “He’s been switching day-to-day; that’s how we’re doing it. The unofficial depth chart’s out and he’s got to earn [the starting right tackle spot]; it’s still open. It’s way too early yet really to lock in a starter at that position with the stuff that we have going on with the offensive line.”

Taylor getting comfortable in the starting role — which is inevitable — will be important moving forward. Watching his development is important as his backups have struggled some during camp.

3. D.J. Chark

Chark has turned into a sort of training camp hero at wide receiver this offseason. Compared to last year Chark has improved in seemingly all facets of his game. His ability to catch the football and his work in the red zone this offseason has been great as he transitions to year two. Typically, young receivers take a year or two to actually get into the groove of things and watching his development will be key during the preseason.

4. Josh Allen

This years’ seventh overall pick will play a key role for the Jaguars defense this season, even with Yannick Ngakoue back in the interim. His ability to rush the passer opposite of Ngakoue and Campbell is what the Jaguars need to take their defense to the next level, especially on third down. How much Allen plays in this matchup will be determined by head coach Doug Marrone, but I’d expect the rookie to at least get his feet wet barring an injury.

5. Jerrod Wilson

As stated before, the play of the safeties will be very important this season. Wilson is entering his first season as a starter, and will almost assuredly be tested throughout the season. His development along with his counter-part Ronnie Harrison will be important to watch. The Jaguars need to get Wilson and Harrison on the field as much as possible in order to develop great communication.

6. Gardner Minshew

Working as Nick Foles’ primary backup during training camp, Minshew will receive a ton of reps during this preseason game against the Ravens. His development might be important for the Jaguars as Nick Foles has shown a bit of an injury history in the past.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Life after former Jaguars superstar cornerback Jalen Ramsey

Demetrius Harvey

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Sep 19, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; General view of the stadium prior to the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The trade many expected to happen, did happen, and possibly sooner than anticipated. Now, with Jalen Ramsey off of the team, what’s next for the Jaguars in 2019 and beyond?

All good things must come to an end. At least that is what the majority of Jaguars fans will tell themselves after the team shipped off one of their most prized possessions on a late Tuesday evening.

The Jaguars (2-4) traded Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams yesterday for a significant haul. Compensation the Jaguars were ultimately pining for from the very beginning. After reportedly turning down numerous deals for the star cornerback, the team finally gave in after Ramsey was declared a no-go this past Sunday following a meeting with Jaguars owner Shad Kahn. Khan told ‘The Street’, he expected the All-Pro cornerback to suit up against the Saints.

Ramsey had already missed the previous two weeks due to a back injury, which the star cornerback spoke about on Nate Burleson’s 17 Weeks podcast. Ramsey had not practiced with the team until last week and was seen during the portion of practice open to the media as simply going through the motions in individual drills.

If the Jaguars were going to trade Ramsey, it was always going to be for a steep price. The Jaguars had no intention of sending Ramsey off for — frankly — disrespectful offers or compensation. The team held tight until Tuesday when the Los Angeles Rams offered compensation the team simply could not refuse.

Earlier in the day, the Rams (3-3) traded up-and-down cornerback Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens (4-2) for a 2020 fifth-round pick and linebacker Kenny Young. This sparked speculation of Ramsey eventually being the next cornerback to be traded, and at 7:43 P.M. it was reported by multiple outlets that Ramsey would indeed be traded to the Los Angeles Rams.

Ramsey had always been an outspoken, potentially problematic football player during his time in the NFL, however, after a conflict between himself and head coach Doug Marrone, combined by a reported conflict between himself and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, the dam was finally broken.

After three years at performing as arguably a top-three defensive player in the NFL, the relationship was completely severed. This would be the end of a consistent toxic-relationship between Ramsey and the Jaguars, which is well documented here by ESPN’s Michael DiRocco.

Life After Jalen Ramsey

So where do the Jaguars go from here?

After acquiring two first-round picks — one in each of the next two drafts — and a 2021 fourth-round pick, the Jaguars have plenty of ammunition to supplant their already talented roster with an influx of young, and talented players over the next two seasons.

The core of the Jaguars roster stems from young (25 years or younger), talented players at nearly all levels of football both offensively and defensively. Although the team is currently sitting at 2-4, there is plenty to be optimistic about moving forward.

Starting with defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue (24 years old) and Josh Allen (21), the Jaguars have a couple of core pieces on the defensive side of the ball which could potentially make up for the loss of a star cornerback. Although there is no replacing a generational talent such as Ramsey, having pass rushers that will impact the quarterback will always take precedence.

Jaguars’ wide receivers DJ Chark Jr. (23) and Dede Westbrook (25), along with running back Leonard Fournette (24), and linebacker Myles Jack (24) have already shown how talented they are or could be in the very near future. These players represent the potential “star” level core players of the team as it stands right now.

Players such as offensive tackles Cam Robinson (24) and Jawaan Taylor (21), defensive end Dawuane Smoot (24), safety Ronnie Harrison (22), and potentially right guard Will Richardson (23) all-round out a young group of players who will impact the team’s decision making over the next couple of years at least. While these players have not performed at the level the aforementioned group has, they have the potential to become something special in Jacksonville.

There are also several young, and talented players such as linebacker Quincy Williams (23), and the remainder of the Jaguars past couple of draft classes who have not proven themselves on the field, but have the potential to do so in the next couple of years.

More recently, sixth-round quarterback Garnder Minshew has proven to — at the very least — be a capable replacement-level starter for the team over the course of the season while veteran quarterback Nick Foles recovers from a broken collarbone. It remains to be seen whether or not Minshew will evolve into the team’s franchise quarterback, but his play — during the first five games of the season — illustrates the potential.

The Jaguars have posted a 1-2 record without Ramsey, and while he absolutely would help the team right now, and moving forward, the team’s issues have not been due to his absence. The Jaguars lost to the Saints last week 6-13 after a complete offensive failure due to the Saints’ ferocious defensive gameplan. They lost to the Panthers a week prior due much more to the Jaguars’ defensive front seven players than secondary after Chrisitan McCaffrey ran for 185 yards.

Replacing Ramsey at the moment is second-year cornerback Tre Herndon. According to Pro Football Focus, Herndon has allowed 15 receptions for 232 yards and two touchdowns. However, in the last two games, the young corner has allowed only six receptions for 72 yards and zero touchdowns.

The Jaguars’ season has not ended simply because Ramsey is no longer on the team. There is still hope for a great finish — especially with their talent on both sides of the ball –, and it will start this Sunday when the Jaguars travel to Cincinnati to face the 0-6 Bengals.

Bright Future Ahead

Along with the players mentioned above, the Jaguars now have enough ammunition to make waves during the next two draft classes. Although they have plenty of pieces to move forward, there are still voids on the team which need to be filled — soon.

There is no need to take a deep dive into the next NFL draft, however considering the compensation the Jaguars were awarded by trading Ramsey, there is enough reason to at least take a peak. With the Rams currently sitting at a 3-3 record, their first-round pick from this season would be around 15th overall. This is due to change, but with their struggles on offense, and a tough schedule, it should bode well for the home team.
During the next draft, the Jaguars will almost assuredly take a look at the cornerback position, one name which will stand out is Florida star cornerback C.J. Henderson. Henderson is thought of by most draft pundits to be a top-five cornerback in this class.

While no one can reasonably replace Ramsey — especially not right away –, having star power at all levels of the defense is still a priority.

Draft flexibility is a must in today’s NFL, and the more darts you have to shoot at the board, the better. The Jaguars will enter the next two seasons with 18 total draft selections (nine in each year), which includes two first-round picks in 2020, two in 2021 and extra picks along the way in the later rounds.

Considering the Jaguars’ situation at quarterback, the team has done a fantastic job of balancing their movement in the draft with the movement of the team. By 2021, the Jaguars will know whether or not Minshew is the answer, and will have a reasonable opportunity to move on from a would-be 32-year-old quarterback in Foles.

With two first-round picks in 2021, the Jaguars can maneuver their way up the draft to select a quarterback if need be.

While the immediate future may look grim, ultimately, trading Ramsey could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. The Jaguars will almost assuredly find out over the next several weeks as their season is on the line heading into their week nine bye.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars trade CB Jalen Ramsey to Los Angeles Rams

Demetrius Harvey

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Sep 19, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) and corner back coach Tim Walton are all smiles after a win over Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

After weeks of speculation and intrigue, the Jaguars have finally solved the long-standing feud with cornerback Jalen Ramsey

The Jaguars have officially traded cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams. The compensation? Two first-round picks (2020,2021) and a fourth-round pick (2021). After a tumultuous few weeks, the long-awaited trade has finally happened.

Many speculated the Jaguars may hold onto the star cornerback beyond this season to maximize their potential compensation, but it only took one desperate team willing to part away with what the Jaguars felt he was worth to ultimately get the deal done.

The Jaguars cornerback had not participated with the team in several weeks due to an on-going back injury. Ramsey became malcontent following a reported dispute between himself and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin after the Jaguars played the Houston Texans in week two.

After the reported discussion, Ramsey requested a trade via his agent and would go on to play one more game for the Jaguars.

“Some disrespectful things were said on their (Jacksonville Jaguars) end that made me definitely walk out and call my agent. As soon as I walked out,” Ramsey said on the 17 weeks podcast shortly before the team’s week three matchup against the Tennessee Titans. “I told him, ‘its time. my time is up here in Jacksonville.’ I said, ‘I wanna ask for a trade’.” The Pro Bowl corner says he was truly at peace when he made the decision. “I was completely calm.”

Now, a little over a month later, the Jaguars have made good on his request and have ended their toxic relationship with the star cornerback by sending him to Los Angeles.

Drafted fifth overall in 2016, Ramsey accounted for 182 total tackles, 45 passes defended and nine interceptions. Ramsey joins former 2014 and 2015 first-round picks Blake Bortles and Dante Fowler Jr., in LA.

The Jaguars have long-wanted at least two first-round picks for the star corner, and get their wish. Ramsey met with Jaguars’ owner Shad Khan last week and had a “heart-to-heart” which ended with Khan believing the All-Pro player would be suiting up last weekend.

The Jaguars later confirmed the trade and now have 18 picks, including four first-round selections, over the next two drafts. The Jaguars will now have plenty of ammo to surround their extremely talented young core of players in Jawan Taylor, Ronnie Harrison, Myles Jack, Yannick Ngakoue, Josh Allen, DJ Chark Jr., and potentially quarterback Gardner Minshew moving forward.

In the meantime, the Jaguars will likely continue with second-year cornerback Tre Herndon as they have for the past three weeks. Herndon has had an up-and-down three starts with the Jaguars, however, he has shown potential to — at the very least — be a capable starter opposite of A.J. Bouye.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars: Three crucial adjustments needed before bye week

Brandon Carroll

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Oct 13, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs the ball against New Orleans Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata (93) during the fourth quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

An up-and-down start to the season for the Jaguars seems to be on a downward slope as Jacksonville loses another tough matchup for after struggling offensively in Sunday’s game against the Saints.

Following that loss, the Jaguars continue to be sucked into the abyss that is being below .500 at this point in the season.

With a 2-4 record, many believe that it is just the beginning of another disappointing season that will cause turmoil within the supporters of the team and players.

That is far from the case according to defensive end Calais Campbell. In a post-game interview following the Jaguars fourth loss of the season Campbell says “You’ll be foolish to doubt the heart of this team, this team has a lot of heart. We’re gonna keep it together…and we’re gonna find a way to be a really good team this year.”

A promising statement from a leader of the Jaguars. But — as the saying goes –, actions speak louder than words.

The Jaguars will start a stretch of games that are rather favorable for them to get back on track going into the bye week and could put them in a position to make a late-season playoff run.

As the Jaguars gear up to take on the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, and Houston Texans over the next three weeks, there are three essential adjustments to make in each of those games to go into the bye week with a winning record.

Three crucial adjustments for the Jaguars to make before the bye week: 

1.) Limit penalties

With only two penalties accepted in week six, the Jaguars must continue to limit unnecessary penalties that shoot themselves in the foot. As we have learned thus far in the season, the Jaguars are not a good enough team to overcome an abundance of penalties.

With questions surrounding multiple parts of the team —including the linebacker and offensive line positions— the Jaguars do not have the luxury that some teams around the NFL do to overcome penalties with talent.

To this point, the Jaguars rank in the bottom half of the league with nearly 63 penalty yards averaged per game. With football being a game of inches, it is essential to execute cleanly to be successful in the NFL.

In the fourth quarter against the Saints, we saw a first-down run of 14 yards by Leonard Fournette subsequently negated due to a hold that backed the Jaguars up eight yards into a 1st and 18 on the Jaguars 44 instead of a first down in plus territory.

Just three plays later, Jacksonville was stopped on fourth-and-short and set up the Saints with the opportunity to close out the game.

The inability to get out of their own way all season has created an inability to win in close games. If the Jaguars can somehow find a way to limit the number of penalty flags thrown, they have a much better chance to “win games now” as Myles Jack would say.

2.) Find consistency on the offensive line. 

The Jaguars have struggled all year on the offensive line. The plugging and playing of multiple different players and the continuous rotation at the guard right guard position have resulted in lackluster develop for the group.

They have been unable to establish a consistent push and protection and it has ultimately resulted in tallies in the loss column.

While every game has not been 100% on the offensive line, the struggling front five have not done much to ensure victory for the Jaguars.

The lack of holes being opened in the run game paired with the collapsing of the pocket when their quarterback drops back to pass will plague any team’s ability to win games.

For most of the year, the Jaguars have been able to hide the fact that their offensive line is subpar — for the most part — due to Gardner Minshew’s uncanny ability to escape the pocket and make plays on the run.

But, in week six against the Saints, the offensive line was exposed for the weakness that it really is. The Saints brought pressure on Minshew but confined him to the pocket and didn’t allow him to make the plays he had been making throughout the majority of the young season.

A formula that many teams will begin to use as the season goes on. A containment pass rush to keep the star rookie quarterback in the pocket is going to be the trend as the well-oiled machine that had been running for the Jaguars throughout the first few weeks was shut down by Cam Jordan and company.

This new way to limit Minshew’s playmaking ability will be a call to action for the lackluster offensive line. One of the only teams in the league that continuously rotates players at the right guard position, with Will Richardson and A.J. Cann, will need to solidify that spot in order to gain chemistry within the offensive line.

Regardless of who is put in that spot permanently, there is very little chance it results in worse production that is currently being put out.

3.) Have the offense and defense show up in the same game. 

Both sides of the ball have failed to show up for the Jaguars in five out of their first six games of the season. The number of times one side of the ball has shown up, but not the other, this season is problematic.

So far this season, the Jaguars have been unable for the offense and defense to put together consecutive games of competent play at the same time.

In weeks two, three, and six, the Jaguars’ defense decided it was their time to play. Allowing a maximum of thirteen points in those games. They went 1-2 over that stretch.

On the other hand, in weeks one, three, four, and five, the Jaguars’ offense showed up and produced yardage in a big way. They were able to go 2-2 in those games.

The team is on the cusp of winning close matchups, three of their four losses have come by seven points or less. If the Jaguars can figure out how to get both sides of the ball to play effectively down the stretch of the season at the same time, they can definitely find a way to come out victorious.

Jacksonville looks to take on the rest of the season with an iron fist. They have the ability to control their own destiny but it will be up to them whether they want to squander the opportunity at hand, or seize the moment and take the rest of the NFL by surprise.

Climbing the ladder to a playoff appearance will be no easy feat, especially as a 2-4 team. But if Jacksonville is able to execute to the best of its abilities and make the three crucial adjustments needed for success, the weak AFC conference could feature a Jaguars team within its playoff.

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