Prior to week five of the 2018 season, the Jacksonville Jaguars had everything going for them. The Jaguars were a 3-1 team with sights sets on battling with the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead. It seemed as if it could have been a matchup between the two best teams in the AFC.
In many categories, the Jaguars were considered one of the best teams in the league and were a favorite to not just make the Super Bowl, but win the Super Bowl.
After the game, they were no longer considered so. Many weaknesses were shown on the offensive side of the football and a team that had once been atop the league was on an uncontrollable downhill spiral.
Lack of productivity on the offensive side of the ball, issues on the offensive line and at the quarterback position, injuries, and the lack of a leadership presence within the locker room plagued the season that was supposed to be theirs. Without leaders to inspire and light the way for the Jacksonville Jaguars, they had lost their identity.
They lost the swagger that fans had grown accustomed to in the previous season. The only way for them to fix what was broken last year is by adding pieces and players stepping up to fill the void of leaders.
Who are the players best suited to step up to take on the leadership role on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball?
Jaguars Offensive Side of the ball:
When the Jaguars brought in Nick Foles in free agency, they were getting a guy who’s been there and done that. Someone who has won on the biggest stage in football and played well in that spotlight. Willing a team that had lost their starting quarterback and hopes of bringing home the Lombardi trophy to take down the perennial powerhouse of the Patriots organization in the Super Bowl.
Foles won MVP honors for his performance and say what you may but MVP honors at any stage of the NFL are nothing to ignore.
While the Jaguars were dialed in on getting a guy that has shown his on-field production, they’re also getting one that can produce of the field as well. In the locker room, weight room, film room, or even away from the Jaguars facilities. Foles is a high character player that has experience leading a team.
Foles knows how to get everyone around him dialed in and focused on one common goal. Something the Jaguars have lacked in previous years. A guy with a warm personality and charisma that makes him likable to all teammates and anyone he comes in contact with.
Foles has already exhibited a change in culture to the Jaguars organization just by his presence alone. Showing his hard work and dedication to the game makes others around him want to do the same. Foles is a guy who leads the entire team, not just his side of the ball. He’s someone that builds real relationships outside of football. Someone who shows players that while football is important to their daily lives, it shouldn’t be where they find their identity.
In an interview after one of the teams OTA’s, Foles stated, “We’re all more than football players, that’s what I try to tell guys in the locker room. If your identity is solely in football you’re gonna be lost at the end of this but if you can find your identity in something greater, mines in Christ, it makes it easier to go out here and play the game of football…”
That’s the type of leadership that shows them that if they make a bad play, they aren’t defined by that one moment. Being able to relay that message to players relaxes them in a way that can cause their on the field production to increase. It takes a burden off their shoulders to know that no matter what, they are being supported by their teammates.
Foles, on many occasions, has shown a Christlike attitude on and off the field and his personality oozes confidence to those around him. Confidence the Jaguars haven’t seen from a Quarterback in nearly 10 years. The Jaguars got exactly what they bargained for and more by adding Foles. Not just because of his dominance on the field, but also the confidence he exudes for himself and those around him. If someone is able to rally a team that many deemed “undisciplined” after last season — it’s Nick Foles.
Jaguars Defensive Side of the Ball:
In the past two seasons, the Jaguars have had one of the best defenses in the NFL. Led by getting pressure on the quarterback up front and tight coverage on receivers back deep, this team has been a championship level defense. With one of their best linebackers in Telvin Smith sitting the year out due to personal reasons, middle linebacker Myles Jack has the perfect opportunity to step up and lead this team going forward.
Entering his fourth season out of UCLA, Jack has shown he has what it takes to be a consistent force on the Jacksonville defense. A very talented player that had 107 total tackles last season with 75 of those being solo tackles. Over his three-year career, he’s had 221 tackles with 159 being solo and five sacks. Jack is a guy that could’ve taken Jacksonville to their first-ever Super Bowl due to a fumble recovery in the AFC championship game where he was wrongfully ruled down.
Jack has lead by example by showing grit and determination.
This is the year he becomes a vocal presence on the defensive side. Jack has the smarts and on-field production to be able to lead a Jacksonville team that has the potential to be one of the best in the league. With help from veteran Calais Campbell in vocalizing praise or displeasure from teammates, the Jaguars could take the next step as a franchise.
Myles Jack has all the attributes needed to be a leader on this Jaguars team. The leadership to take over a team which has no real captain on defense. He is cerebral enough to take over as the quarterback of the defense. And he has the charisma to light a fire on defense whenever he steps onto the field through his actions as well as words. Put simply, Myles Jack is the leader the Jaguars need. Not Jalen Ramsey, and although Calais Campbell fills the role just fine, Myles Jack is the player the Jaguars need to fill that role.
The Jaguars need players to fill the void of leadership. If not, expect another disappointing season. But, with the pieces added and circumstances that arose in the offseason, expect a new look Jaguars teams this year. Expect a team that plays together and competes hard for each other.
FILM ROOM: Jaguars receiver DJ Chark is building a résumé
Drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Jaguars receiver DJ Chark is growing into the number one receiver the team envisioned.
After recording only 14 receptions for 174 yards during his rookie year, Jaguars receiver DJ Chark is slowly turning into a legitimate go-to receiver for the Jaguars. Only two games into the 2019 season, Chark has already accumulated 11 receptions for 201 yards and two touchdowns.
Hard work and dedication to his craft during the offseason is beginning to pay off. The young receiver believes his confidence level is growing. “A lot,” Chark told Locked On Jaguars when asked about how much his confidence level has grown. “Just from knowing where to be, when to be there. Knowing the offense. Knowing the routine. All that helped me out a lot.”
Every offseason, while players work on everything, they typically hone in on one specific area. For Chark? “My routes. That’s the biggest thing,” Chark said. “Getting in-and-out of breaks, understanding my playbook, and just tweaking small things in my game.”
While the second-year wide receiver is confident heading into week three, he knows there’s a lot he needs to do to get better. “I think I’ve been doing well, but I haven’t had a perfect game,” Chark said when asked if he was satisfied with his game. “A lot to work on, a lot to get better at. Also we 0-2. A lot we need to work on, so not satisfied, no.”
Typically, it takes about a year for a receiver to truly get into a rhythm as far as the speed of the game, knowing where to be, how to be there, and all of the little things that a receiver needs to understand. Chark has seemingly met at least some of those goals, and while he still has a lot to work on, the first two weeks into the 2019 season has been a fantastic start.
Last week against the Houston Texans, Chark accounted for seven receptions (nine targets) for 55 yards and a touchdown. The two incompletions came on an overthrown ball from rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, and a fantastic pass breakup made by Texans’ cornerback Lonnie Johnson.
Chark has built a close bond with the Minshew. Something he says is due to the “southern swagger.” Minshew was born and raised in Mississippi while Chark was born and raised in Louisianna. “We from the south,” Chark said when asked about the chemistry the two have together. “It just works that way.”
The two will hope to continue growing together as a dynamic duo over the course of the season.
Shortly after the Jaguars loss to the Houston Texans last Sunday, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone was very complimentary of the second-year receiver out of Louisiana State University stating, “I think it’s consistency…He’s a guy that can go in there and make plays and someone that is going to keep getting better and better.”
The team hopes Chark continues to show promise as the season progresses. Having ready-made chemistry with Minshew certainly helps.
Onto the film room:
Thoughts: Probably the best aspect of Chark’s game is his ability to travel from one side of the field to the other effortlessly, and with speed. Chark ran a 4.34 40-yard dash during the combine in 2018, and it shows on the crossing route ran against the Texans last week.
During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo complimented the receiver on how much work he is putting in running all over the field.
What might seem simple at first glance, Chark does a fantastic job at maintaining inside leverage with the corner while creating separation with his speed. The reception itself illustrates a consistency with his hands — something receiver had not been able to find throughout his football career.
Thoughts: Chark made good on his “southern swagger” connection on Sunday. The Louisiana native breaks on his crossing route and follows Minshew throughout to give the rookie quarterback a clear, and clean opening for a would-be game-tying touchdown. The growth and maturity in his game is obvious.
DeFilippo agrees with Chark’s opinion that his confidence is certainly growing. “He’s running across on the touchdown pass and he points up to the sky like they put it up for me,” DeFilippo said when speaking about Chark on Tuesday.
Once again, Chark uses his hands to haul in a perfectly placed football thrown by his rookie quarterback. With his confidence level rising, as DeFilippo points out, the skies the limit.
Thoughts: Against soft coverage, Chark does a fantastic job at selling the nine-route while transitioning to a stop-route just after the first-down marker. In years past Chark likely either runs the wrong route or is too hesitant at the line to sell a deep route. Now, with a full understanding of the playbook and his position, he can just run freely.
Thoughts: On his most impressive play of the game, Chark shows off his insane body control and hands catching. This is a complete 180 from his play last season when Chark was inconsistent in both areas.
The ball from Minshew comes is a beauty. Perhaps slightly earlier than he’d necessarily like, but the moment Chark turns around to look for the ball and makes a perfect adjustment in the air to make the grab on first-and-ten.
The play Minshew missed on. Depending on the move Chark would have put on Texans’ safety Tashuan Gipson this goes for six.
Chark will hope to continue the path to becoming the Jaguars number one receiver on Thursday when the team plays host to their division rival Tennessee Titans. Chark knows how important this game is coming off of a short week against a division opponent.
“It’s pretty big,” Chark said. “But I’m excited. Quick turnaround from Sunday. It’s football — going out there with my offense. Can’t wait.”
Jaguars Wednesday injury report: Bouye listed as questionable
On Wednesday, the Jacksonville Jaguars released their final injury report before their game on Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans.
The Jaguars are getting ready to play after an eventful week of reports surrounding the organization. They look to stay grounded and salvage a season that look to be in for a steep decline if they can’t pull out a win in week three.
Final Week three injury report:
- There is a multitude of players back on the field this week after missing time for the Jaguars throughout the first two games. This includes the likes of Cam Robinson, who will be starting at left tackle and Yannick Ngakoue. Backup swing tackle Cedrick Ogbuehi and wide receiver Marquise Lee are also ready to return to the playing field if their number is called.
- A.J. Bouye is officially listed as questionable ahead of Thursday nights action. The Jaguars expect to have Bouye back after he missed week two with a hip injury. As he continues to work out the minor kinks and get back into football form, Tre Herndon will prepare to go in case Bouye is once again absent.
- Two players that are officially listed as out are first-time Jaguars, Josh Oliver, and D.J. Alexander. Oliver went down in training camp with a hamstring injury and continues to battle with that issue. There is no timetable for when Oliver will be able to return but he would sure help a struggling tight end group.
Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey will play Thursday, Cam Robinson to start at tackle
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone spoke to the media shortly after practice on Wednesday to address injuries and availability for tomorrow.
Shortly after practice today Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone met with the media and discussed a variety of topics including his relationship with cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Marrone, when asked if Ramsey will be good to go and if he is expected to play tomorrow, said he expects the cornerback to suit up. This follows suit with what Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash stated yesterday at his press conference when he was asked if the superstar cornerback should be expected to play.
The Jaguars head coach said the argument between himself and Ramsey on the sideline is behind them. Marrone went on to tell the media, “Jalen and I have always had a good, open relationship where we’ve always been able to talk. We sat down yesterday we talked about what’s going on as far he and I.”
So, for now, Ramsey will be playing tomorrows’ game against the Tennessee Titans, although the trade looms heavy over the stadium.
As for the players who want to be a part of the organization, the jaguars are getting healthier along the offensive line. Both left tackle Cam Robinson and swing tackle Cedric Ogbuehi will be active tomorrow with Marrone indicating Robinson will start at left tackle.
The right guard starting position is still semi-fluid. Although Marrone said A.J. Cann will continue to start at right guard, the head coach said, “A.J. will be the right guard and wouldn’t be surprised if both Cedric [Ogbuehi] and Will [Richardson] play in the game.”
Both Will Richardson and Cedric Ogbuehi may get some minutes if either Robinson or Cann struggle during tomorrow’s matchup.
Shortly after practice Robinson told Locked On Jaguars, “I’m looking forward to it.” when asked about what it’ll be like getting back out there with his teammates. “I’m anxious and I’m ready to get on the field. It’s been over a year since I played a regular-season game so I’m looking forward to it.”
Robinson will have to get off to a fast tomorrow after playing only six in-game snaps in over a year. When asked about how difficult it is to get thrown back out there, Robinson replied “It’s definitely gonna be rust, that should be expected. No excuse, but still gotta go out and play well.”
While Robinson is ready to get back on the field, and expects a bit of rust his injuries over the past year and recently, a couple of weeks ago, have not hurt his confidence one bit. “I don’t ever lose no confidence,” Robinson said. “Some injuries are just freak injuries. It doesn’t affect my mental at all.”
The Jaguars will be completely healthy along the offensive line against the Titans on Thursday, and they’ll need it as the Titans defensive line has given them problems — especially inside — for a while.
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