The Jacksonville Jaguars find themselves in the same position they were one offseason ago: holding the No. 1 overall draft pick while searching for a new head coach. The Urban Meyer experience came to a conclusion before the end of the regular season, one in which top pick Trevor Lawrence spent more time running for his life than running for first downs. The Jacksonville Jaguars team needs will focus on making life a little easier for their franchise quarterback during the 2022 season.
It goes without saying, the most pressing need for Jacksonville entering the 2022 offseason is filling the head coaching vacancy. But from there, this Jaguars team needs to infuse this roster with more talent.
Jaguars Dismal Offense
Jacksonville started the 2021 season with renewed hope. With a new head coach and an exciting young quarterback to build the franchise around, the Jaguars seemed poised to leave their 1-15 season in the review mirror. But the team sputtered out of the gate, losing their first five contests and extending their losing skid to 20 consecutive games. This made them just the second franchise in the Super Bowl era to have that ignominious distinction.
The Jags managed to stop that losing streak at 20 with a 23-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins in London. The team went on to finish 3-14, with unlikely wins over the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts. Jacksonville finished 5-12 against the spread, so there’s that.
Jacksonville’s struggles manifested most on offense. Lawrence made more mistakes as a rookie than big plays. He finished tied for the league lead in interceptions (17) while ranking last among regular starting quarterbacks in touchdowns (12). Lawrence threw only four TD passes over the last 10 weeks of the season.
Overall, the Jaguars’ offense ranked 27th in yards per game (305.3) and 32nd in points per game (14.9). Jacksonville sported the 22nd-ranked rushing attack (103.2 yards per game) and the 23rd-ranked passing game (202.1). The Jags ranked 28th in both third-down percentage (35.8) and red zone percentage (51.3).
Jags Just Okay on Defense
Considering the offense provided so few points, Jacksonville’s defense often needed perfect or near-perfect performances to even compete. The Jags’ best defensive effort came in Week 9 when they limited the high-powered Buffalo offense to six points in an upset victory. They forced a season-high three turnovers in that ballgame and added four sacks.
The defense finished 19th in yards per game allowed this season (353.0), and 17th in passing yards per game allowed (227.9). The Jags struggled to contain the run at times, finishing 23rd in rush defense (125.1 yards per game). They did contain the league’s top rusher, Jonathan Taylor, to 183 rushing yards on 36 carries over two games.
Jacksonville ranked 28th in scoring defense, allowing 26.8 points per game. The Jags ended up 28th in sacks (32), but 19th in pressure percentage (24.2 percent). They finished tied for the second-fewest interceptions (7), and fewest takeaways overall (9). The team’s minus-20 turnover differential was far-and-away the worst in the NFL this season.
Jaguars Draft Capital & Cap Space
With the Reese’s Senior Bowl practices beginning this week, all eyes in Jacksonville could turn to the draft process. The Jaguars’ draft pick lands in the top five for the eighth time in the last 11 years, and is No. 1 overall for the second straight season. Jacksonville’s results with those picks haven’t been great, considering they’ve netted just one Pro Bowl appearance (Jalen Ramsey) and only one of those players saw a second contract with the team (Blake Bortles).
For the 2022 NFL Draft, Jacksonville holds four picks in the first three rounds and 12 overall. The Jags have the top pick on each day of the draft and two in the third round, thanks to the C.J. Henderson trade with Carolina. The Jags hold Minnesota’s fifth-rounder, and sixth-rounders from Seattle, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, as well as Baltimore’s seventh-rounder.
According to OverTheCap.com, Jacksonville enters the offseason with the second-most salary cap space at $59.3 million. The team’s effective cap space (the room it’ll have once it’s signed at least 51 players to the roster) is $46.2 million, which is third-most. The Jags could consider cutting ties with certain underperforming veterans to create even more room.
Jaguars Team Needs
The Jacksonville Jaguars team needs touch a few different areas for 2022. Jacksonville could potentially lose two key offensive linemen, tackle Cam Robinson and guard Andrew Norwell, in free agency. Wide receiver D.J. Chark and defensive tackle Taven Bryan are free agents as well.
1. Wide Receiver
Jacksonville needs playmakers. The resigning Chark should certainly help, but the Jags need to bring in more skilled offensive talent. Lawrence needs more game-breakers to target on the outside, so the top need is wide receiver.
2. Edge Rusher
The Jags could use an upgrade at Edge rusher, considering the team only registered 32 sacks last season. Josh Allen ended up with a team-high 7.5 sacks for Jacksonville. Dawuane Smoot also had a good year (six sacks), too, but this is an area of need for the Jags.
3. Running Back
Running back should also be a concern for the Jaguars draft and the 2022 offseason. James Robinson tore his Achilles late in the season, and the team played without Travis Etienne all year. A fast recovery for Robinson might see him on the field early next season, and Etienne expects to be ready for training camp. But still, the Jags would be wise to invest some draft capital in this position.
Other Jacksonville Jaguars team needs entering the 2022 season include: offensive line, linebacker, and tight end.
Jaguars Draft Picks 2022
(According to tankathon.com)
1st Round – Pick 1
2nd Round – Pick 33
3rd Round – Pick 65
3rd Round – Pick 70 (Via Carolina Panthers)
4th Round – Pick 104
5th Round – Pick 156 (Via Minnesota Vikings)
6th Round – Pick 178
6th Round – Pick 186 (Via Seattle Seahawks)
6th Round – Pick 196 (Via Philadelphia Eagles)
6th Round – Pick 197 (Via Pittsburgh Steelers)
7th Round – Pick 220
7th Round – Pick 233 (Via Baltimore Ravens)