Jaguars hope Minshew thrives in Gruden’s West Coast offense
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (6-10)
New faces: LB Joe Schobert, TE Tyler Eifert, RB James Robinson, RB Chris Thompson, DE Cassius Marsh, CB CJ Henderson, LB K’Lavon Chaisson, WR Laviska Shenault, DT DaVon Hamilton, OC Jay Gruden, QBs coach Ben McAdoo.
Key losses: DE Yannick Ngakoue, RB Leonard Fournette, S Ronnie Harrison, DL Calais Campbell, CB A.J. Bouye, DL Rodney Gunter, DT Al Woods, DE Aaron Lynch, DE Lerentee McCray, CB Rashaan Melvin, DT Marcell Dareus, QB Nick Foles.
Strengths: Jaguars might have their most talented receiving group in years, with DJ Chark coming off Pro Bowl, Chris Conley coming off career year, and Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole playing for new contracts. They drafted Shenault in second round and Collin Johnson in fifth, and both were solid in camp.
Weaknesses: D-line is debacle, especially after trading Ngakoue to Minnesota. Including him, Jacksonville has lost six linemen since start of camp, with Woods and McCray opting out, Gunter and Lynch retiring, and DT Dontavius Russell (hip) going on injured reserve. Carl Davis (four games) and Josh Mauro (five) also are suspended to start season. Josh Allen, who made Pro Bowl as rookie, is significant building block.
Pandemic Development: Virtual offseason proved challenging for team changing offensive system and tweaking defensive scheme.
Fantasy Player To Watch: QB Gardner Minshew could thrive in Gruden’s West Coast offense, especially behind offensive line that returns intact and with TEs Tyler Eifert and James O’Shaughnessy healthy. Minshew went 6-6 in 12 starts last season, putting up better numbers than first-round picks Kyler Murray (Arizona) and Daniel Jones (New York Giants).
Vegas Says: Ultimate long shot. Super Bowl odds: 175-1. Over/under wins: 4 1/2.
Expectations: Despite returning 16 of 22 starters, few outsiders expect much from Jacksonville. In fact, there’s been more talk about team tanking to draft Clemson star QB Trevor Lawrence than Minshew being NFL’s next great late-round pick. Jags finished last in AFC South last two years, lost seven games by 10 or more points in 2019, and traded away three of its best defenders (Campbell, Bouye, Ngakoue). Owner Shad Khan kept coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell despite public pleas for change, giving them shot to prove tyrannical executive Tom Coughlin was main problem. Marrone and Caldwell now have one of NFL’s youngest teams and believe improved culture could lead to better results.
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