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DeFilippo would be a slam-dunk hire for Jaguars offensive coordinator

Zach Goodall

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Credit: The Loop Sports

The first thought for most Jaguars fans after hearing the news of John DeFilippo’s interview as the team’s offensive coordinator was “didn’t that dude just get fired by the Minnesota Vikings because he wouldn’t run the ball?”

Simply put: Yes, that’s exactly why he was fired by the Vikings – and that reasoning makes him the scapegoat in Minnesota. In reality, DeFilippo didn’t get the credit he deserved in the Vikings passing game, and considering the emphasis the Jaguars must put on the passing game and quarterback position this offseason, landing a QB guru and pass-game specialist in DeFilippo would make this potential offensive coordinator hire a slam-dunk.

In 13 games under DeFilippo, the Vikings called passing plays on 66.99% of offensive snaps, which ranked 2nd highest in the league. Compare that to 33.01% of offensive snaps being run plays, coming in 2nd to last across the NFL. However, it’s hard to argue the Vikings had much to hang their hats on in the run game – with Dalvin Cook missing five of the team’s first nine games and a poor offensive line, the team only averaged 4.2 yards per carry as a whole under DeFilippo, which ranked 25th in the league.

When looking at the pass game, well, it’s easy to see where DeFilippo’s genius came into play. Quarterback Kirk Cousins, who the Vikings signed to the first ever free agent multi-year, fully guaranteed deal before the 2018 season, had a historically efficient year under DeFilippo, as seen by the stats in the tweet below:

According to PlayerProfiler.com, Cousins also completed a whopping 75.2% of his play-action passes, despite the clear lack of attention to the run game in order to trick defenses. Oh, and all of these high efficiency numbers come despite Minnesota ranking 29th in the NFL in offensive line pass blocking efficiency, as the Vikings allowed QB pressures on 19.1% of snaps (166 pressures on 666 dropbacks), according to Pro Football Focus.

DeFilippo recognized these factors and was vocal on them. While admitting early in the season that he wanted to run the ball, he wouldn’t try to take away from their passing game efficiency:

“There’s no one that wants to run the ball more than me, and we’re going to try to establish that and continue to grind away on that. But at the same time, there’s a fine line between doing something just to do something and maybe taking some success away from your team.”

There’s incredibly sound logic in that statement, and it falls in line with the reasoning noted above. The pass game was firing on all cylinders, Dalvin Cook was having injury issues to start the year, and even references the amount of pressure Kirk Cousins had to take from an underperforming offensive line.

Prior to Minnesota, DeFilippo as the Philadelphia Eagles QBs coach was key to the development of quarterback Carson Wentz during his MVP-caliber 2017 season (which ended early due to a torn ACL), and rejuvenation of Nick Foles after an up-and-down career, turning to backup QB into the 2018 Super Bowl MVP in Wentz’s absence. This level of production out the two QBs – a combined 3833 yards, 38 touchdowns, and only nine interceptions in 15 games – was a huge part of DeFilippo landing the Vikings offensive coordinator gig.

DeFilippo also squeezed production out of 13 year veteran and career backup quarterback Josh McCown during his one year stint as offensive coordinator in Cleveland in 2015. In eight games before going down with an injury, McCown posted his 2nd most career passing touchdowns in a season with 12, second highest completion percentage of 63.7%, third highest amount of passing yards with 2109, and third highest passer rating of 93.3 – all at the age of 36 years old. Not to mention, the Browns leading receiver that year was 30 year old tight end Gary Barnidge, followed by first year starting wide receiver Travis Benjamin and change-of pace-running back Duke Johnson – not an ideal supporting cast.

While the Jaguars have committed to running the ball with former fourth overall pick Leonard Fournette, despite his on and off the field issues during his first two seasons, they have entered the 2019 offseason with one glaring issue that must their priority to address: The pass game. The quarterback position must be upgraded, the team needs to add another pass-catching playmaker, the offensive line needs to get healthy to provide better protection, and the philosophy must adapt to today’s NFL where passing the ball well wins games.

Assuming the front office can nail down the personnel issues with the offense, DeFilippo has a track record that suggests he can handle the coaching aspects of the modern passing game, and get things firing on all cylinders.

Do it, Jaguars.

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

Jaguars to open seven training camp practices to fans in 2019

Demetrius Harvey

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Jul 26, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (17) signs autographs during training camp at the Dream Finder Homes practice facility outside of TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars announced today they will be opening seven practices during training camp to the public. The first four training camp practices will be open to the public. Practice on Saturday, July 27, is open exclusively to Jags365 Season Ticket Members and is scheduled for 8:45 a.m.

The team’s first practice in full pads will also be open to fans on Sunday, July 28 at 8:45 a.m. All seven of the Jaguars’ Florida Blue open practices are scheduled to take place at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex on the northwest corner of TIAA Bank Field.

2019 JAGUARS OPEN TRAINING CAMP PRACTICES

Thursday, July 25 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Friday, July 26 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Saturday, July 27 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m. Open exclusively to Jags 365 Season Ticket Members
Sunday, July 28 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Tuesday, July 30 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Wednesday, July 31 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Thursday, August 1 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.

Fans are required to register here for each training camp session and tickets will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis. Gates will open to fans at 8:15 a.m., 30 minutes prior to the start of practice.

Parking is available in Lots M and N, and concessions and merchandise will be available for purchase on-site Limited player autograph availability will occur following each practice.

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53 Man Roster

Jaguars 2019 position group breakdown: Running Backs

Brandon Carroll

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Dec 23, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs down the field during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Similar to their quarterback situation, the Jacksonville Jaguars have attempted to answer some questions in terms of the run game in this year’s offseason. Jacksonville went through a full remodel in an attempt to add veteran presence that can sustain the ground attack if injury strikes the team yet again in 2019. 

Two years ago, the Jaguars were a team that led the NFL in rushing at 527 attempts throughout the regular season. Nearly 50 carries ahead of any other team in the league. On those 527 attempted the Jaguars saw heights in production not seen since the Maurice Jones-Drew. 

That production staggered in yardage and overall sustainability of the offense with their lackluster quarterback play last season. This was all due to the injuries of star running back Leonard Fournette and the majority of the offensive line. Without Fournette, the Jaguars only accumulated half the yardage in 2018 Fournette produced in 2017 with T.J. Yeldon and Carlos Hyde leading the affair. 

Being a strong part of the offensive system, the Jaguars win total saw a sharp decrease and the team swagger that carried them to the 2017 AFC playoffs had vanished.

Jacksonville looked to replenish their running back room and get back to the strong, effective run game they saw in 2017 that made them so successful. 

Adding Alfred Blue, Benny Cunningham, Thomas Rawls and more through free agency, as well as, drafting former Temple running back, Ryquell Armstead the Jaguars made a good move in adding reliable to back up Fournette in the backfield. 

Projected Running Back Depth Chart:
*italicized indicates starter, underline indicates picked up via draft/free agency
Leonard Fournette, Alfred Blue, Benny Cunningham, Ryquell Armstead.

Leading the pack coming into 2019 is Leonard Fournette. Fournette is a player that has all the major attributes to be a star player in the NFL if he could just stay healthy. Fournette missed eight games last season and seven due to injury which caused the Jaguars offense to stall in his absence. 

He is a player that combines strong downhill running with game-breaking speed. Abilities not many can combine nevertheless replace. He is a generational talent who looks to return to his rookie form in 2019. 

Fournette looks to be getting back on track this season and “refocused on football.” Him being able to stay on the field will be a huge plus for a Jaguars team that has struggled offensively for many years. 

The next two players on the depth chart are veteran backs Alfred Blue and Benny Cunningham. 

Blue being a signee from the Houston Texans roster and an experienced back who knows how to get yardage necessary to sustain drives. While receiving very little touches in the Houston offense he played the backup role well and was a reliable source of receiving out of the backfield.

Blue will be used more as a third-down back in the Jaguars offense. 

The same goes for Cunningham. Coming over from the Bears, which last season saw two top-caliber running backs in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen sharing carries, Cunningham got lost in the shuffle. Cunningham is a great receiving threat out of the backfield and can play solid minutes in his role on his new team. 

Having two players that can play roles, and play them well is vital for any team in the NFL. Taking fatigue and potential injury into account getting Cunningham and Blue was one of the more important moves the Jaguars made this offseason. The Jaguars acquired two reliable backs for new quarterback Nick Foles to work with on downs where Fournette is not in the game. 

Next on the team’s depth chart is the Jaguars 2019 fifth-round pick out of Temple, Ryquell Armstead. In his senior year, Armstead scored 13 touchdowns and averaged nearly 6.5 yards per carry. Armstead’s progression through his college career was a sight to see. After starting his career as a bulkier strong runner, Armstead slimmed down to become a more complete back and utilized his opportunity at Temple to make it to the NFL. 

Posting 2,987 yards and 34 touchdowns over his career, Armstead looks to carry on those impressive numbers at the next level. Armstead is a runner with great field vision and patience behind the line of scrimmage. He bursts through the open hole and is willing to lower the shoulder to gain extra yardage. Armstead says that he models his game after former Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. 

He describes himself as an angry runner. “I run angry, I run violent. I look for contact— that’s something that makes me unique.” Armstead stated in an interview with CBS sports. 

The type of physical running Armstead brings to the table is something the Jaguars have had success within recent memory. That willingness to create contact and run hard for his team to succeed is an attribute any team would love to have with their running back. 

A player that very strongly resembles Leonard Fournette in terms of running style was a guy the Jaguars looked at as a potential steal in the fifth round. An aggressive, one-cut runner who can run over opponents or bounce it to the outside and take off down the sideline. 

Armstead had the second-fastest time in the 40-yard dash among eligible running backs at the 2019 NFL combine at 4.49 seconds. Being a player with blazing speed mixed with a downhill running style, Armstead could see minutes directly behind Fournette later in the season. Armstead is an intriguing prospect but his development as a pass-catcher out of the backfield will need to improve for him to solidify the playing time this season. 

While the Jaguars have many running backs on the roster, all of them cannot stay. Unless there is a huge jump of progression when training camp starts later in the month, Thomas Rawls and Taj McGowan have very little shot of making the team. 

After last season, the Jaguars have done whatever it takes to assure they have depth at this position. Being able to provide multiple sources of production is important for any team. By providing this depth, the Jaguars hope it can get the job done and they can return to the success seen in the running game just two seasons ago. 

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars to sign former WVU WR Marcus Simms

Demetrius Harvey

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Oct 13, 2018; Ames, IA, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Marcus Simms (8) runs the football against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have made a roster move signing former West Virginia WR Marcus Simms according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Simms was slated to participate in the supplemental draft after filing the paperwork on June 20th.

Simms will make for interesting competition for the Jaguars as we inch closer to training camp. Simms accumulated 87 receptions for 1457 yards and eight touchdowns in his three-year career at West Virginia. Simms has also made his name known in the return game totaling 992 yards as a kick returner. According to reports, Simms ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4-4.49 seconds, with a vertical jump of 36″, a broad jump of 10-2 and three-cone time of 6.91 seconds. After his physical tomorrow, the Jaguars will have to make a corresponding move.

Simms will look to compete for a bottom-of-the-roster position with players such as Terrelle Pryor and Keelan Cole. If the Jaguars intend on retaining six receivers Simms will have a good shot at making the roster. By all accounts, Simms was a draftable player.

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