2022 was a transformative year for the long-moribund Jacksonville Jaguars.
A year after the Urban Meyer debacle, Jacksonville surprised many by posting a 9-8 record, winning the AFC South, and mounting an all-time great comeback victory in the Wild Card Round against the Los Angeles Chargers. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence took a major step forward after struggling in his rookie year, finishing with 4,113 yards, 25 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
The Jaguars are looking to build on that unexpected success as they prepare to begin training camp. After years of instability, suddenly, they appear to be the most stable team in the division. They were the only AFC South squad to not draft a quarterback in the first 2 rounds of the draft; they have their franchise guy in Lawrence. Neither the Colts, Texans, or Titans can say with certainty that they have their franchise quarterback. They hope that they do, but there is no guarantee.
So where exactly do the Jaguars stand as training camp begins?
While the Jaguars did retain most of their playoff roster from last year, there were some notable departures. Starting right tackle Jawaan Taylor, tight end Chris Manhertz, and wide receiver Marvin Jones. Jr all left in free agency. Starting cornerback Shaq Griffin was cut, and pass rusher Arden Key departed as well.
The Jaguars added several new players to their roster in the offseason, including 9 rookies in the draft. Replacing the departing Jawaan Taylor is the Jaguars first round selection, Anton Harrison out of Oklahoma. The team also drafted tight end Brenton Strange from Penn State, running back Tank Bigsby from Auburn, as well as a bunch of defensive help in the later rounds. Other additions are wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who was traded to Jacksonville in November of 2022, but was unable to join his new team as he was still in the middle of year-long suspension for gambling on NFL games. The team also added Josh Wells and Chandler Brewer on the offensive line, which will help with starting left tackle Cam Robinson facing a four-game suspension to start the season. They also added depth at defensive end with Michael Dogbe and Henry Mondeaux, as well as some running back help in D’Ernest Johnson.
Players To Keep An Eye On
The most obvious players are Trevor Lawrence, and his new weapon in Calvin Ridley. Lawrence took massive strides last year, and the addition of Ridley means expectations will be even greater this year. Ridley, in his last full season of action in 2020, when he was a member of the Falcons, posted 90 catches, 1,374 yards, and 9 touchdowns. If he can rediscover that form in Jacksonville, the Jaguars already dangerous offense will become even more potent. That means lots of attention will be paid to seeing if Lawrence and Ridley are on the same page as training camp begins.
During Monday’s edition of The Ride With JMV, John spoke to Mike DiRocco, who covers the Jaguars for ESPN. Mike preached caution with expectations for Ridley.
“We don’t really know what the kid is going to do after a 2-year layoff. It’ll be 23 months between games for him when he plays in the season opener. That is a long, long time.”
Mike also gave his opinion on what might be the biggest area of concern for Jacksonville.
“Pass rush is their number one need. It is the Jaguars number one need. They didn’t even come close to touching Patrick Mahomes limping around on one foot in that playoff game. They didn’t take a pass rusher until the 5th round!”
Listen to John’s conversation with Mike and more below, and tune into The Ride With JMV from 3-6pm on 93.5/107.5 The Fan!
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