Everything to know about the Jacksonville Jaguars before the 2024 season

Everything to know about the Jacksonville Jaguars before the 2024 season

Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

By Floricua Staff

July 10, 2024

Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars have their work cut out for them this year.

$275 million. That’s how much quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s five-year contract extension with the Jacksonville Jaguars is worth. His tenure in Jacksonville has been a bit of a roller coaster. 

The Jaguars selected Lawrence with the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but their first season with the young star saw just three wins thanks to the disastrous leadership of head coach Urban Meyer. Lawrence threw more interceptions than touchdowns his rookie year, but bounced back the following season with 25 touchdowns versus just eight interceptions, leading the Jaguars to a divisional championship and a playoff win. Last year, though, Jacksonville came back down to earth, matching 2022’s 9-8 record but this time missing the playoffs as the rest of the division saw improvements.

But $275 million is a number that indicates an expectation to compete – and win. With less than a month until the start of the NFL preseason, we’re breaking down the biggest storylines surrounding the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Offense

Travis Etienne Jr. #1 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at EverBank Stadium on December 31, 2023 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

If all goes well, the Jaguars could have the most explosive passing attack in the league this year. If things go poorly, this offense will look a lot like it did last year – or worse. We know that Trevor Lawrence gives the offense a high baseline, but where does this team go from there?

The Playmakers

Part of Jacksonville’s struggles last year stemmed from receivers dropping well-placed passes. The biggest offender in that regard was wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who recorded seven drops (often in clutch situations) and failed to keep his feet inbounds for other receptions. 

Ridley moved on in free agency, and the Jags replaced him with not one but two field-stretchers in former Buffalo Bill Gabe Davis and rookie Brian Thomas of LSU. They join Christian Kirk to form one of the strangest wide receiver rooms in the NFL. The trio are each best at deep routes rather than the shorter concepts that most of the league has favored in recent years. Despite Ridley’s drop problems, he is a more dynamic receiver than Davis has been in his career and what Thomas showed in college. 

The Jaguars were a pass-happy team last year, and that’s not likely to change. If Brian Thomas can expand on his college route tree, then this will start to look like a well-rounded offense. But even if he can’t, there’s the possibility that the three receivers simply excel at beating deep safeties, Kirk improves after dealing with lingering injuries last season, Lawrence takes another step forward in his development, tight end Evan Engram remains a reliable chain-mover, and this becomes the most high-flying passing attack in the NFL. Barring any of that, this could be an anemic offense that struggles to convert on third down.

Of course, if the passing game does falter, the Jaguars at least have a talented running back in Travis Etienne. He broke a thousand yards and led the league in forcing missed tackles last season, but he may be at maximum capacity in terms of his workload. He averaged 16 carries per game in 2023, and there’s real risk in over-working him. Etienne has the potential to be a top-10 back, but behind him on the depth chart are D’Ernest Johnson and Tank Bigsby, names that won’t inspire confidence if injury strikes.

The O-Line

On paper, the Jaguars have a talented offensive line. Guard Brandon Scherff was a top-five pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, right tackle Anton Harrison was a first-round pick last year, and the rest of the projected starters were all second-rounders. 

Unfortunately, none of them have lived up to expectations so far. Left tackle Cam Robinson has the highest pass blocking grade from Pro Football Focus at 78.8, which is solid but not spectacular. The rest of the offensive line, particularly on the interior, looks worrisome in pass protection. There is some hope, however, that former Buffalo Bill Mitch Morse, who was once the highest-paid center in the league, will help.

Trevor Lawrence took 35 sacks last year, which, while not ideal, is manageable – five playoff teams allowed more last season. But if the Jaguars lean on deeper passing concepts this year, he’s going to need more time in the pocket.

The Defense

Jake Browning #6 of the Cincinnati Bengals is sacked by Travon Walker #44 and Josh Allen #41 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first quarter at EverBank Stadium on December 04, 2023 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

The Jaguars allowed 21.8 points per game last season, which put their defense in the dead-center of the league. They don’t seem likely to get worse this year, but questions remain about whether they can improve into a top-10 defense.

The D-Line

Edge defender Josh Hines-Allen (formerly known as Josh Allen) is unquestionably the anchor of this defense. Last year, he applied pressure to opposing quarterbacks 90 times, securing 19 sacks. But one great player isn’t enough, and this defense has struggled to consistently rush the passer. 

2022’s top draft pick, Travon Walker, managed to tally up 11 sacks last year, but those mostly came in clean-up from pressure Hines-Allen created. He’s a gifted athlete who still needs a lot of polish to his game in order to excel. 

The good news for Walker is that the Jags signed former San Francisco 49er Arik Armstead in free agency. Armstead has a proven track record of being a disruptive force from the interior of the defensive line, and could help Walker develop.

On another positive note, this is a great run defense unit outside of Walker, thanks to support from linebackers Devin Lloyd and Foyesade Oluokun. 

The Secondary

Cornerback Tyson Campbell gives Jacksonville’s coverage unit a decent baseline, but beyond him, this secondary is largely an unknown commodity. Tre Herndon left for the New York Giants in free agency, and the Jags released Darious Williams after the best year of his career.

They’re replacing the pair with free agent Ronald Darby of the Denver Broncos and rookie Jarrian Jones of Florida State, who shows great promise as a slot defender. The safety room is getting a new look, too, with free agents Darnell Savage of the Green Bay Packers and Terrell Edmunds of the Tennessee Titans.

It’s hard to set any kind of expectations on the secondary this year because there’s so little continuity. Their chemistry will certainly be something to monitor. 

The Competition

The bad news for the Jaguars is that competition in the AFC South is only getting tougher. They’ll have to wrestle with an up-and-coming Super Bowl contender and two scrappy young teams to find success.

Houston Texans

The current division champions boast the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year in quarterback C.J. Stroud and Defensive Rookie of the Year in edge defender Will Anderson. Stroud already had a few dynamic weapons in Nico Collins, Tank Dell, and Dalton Schultz; now, the Texans are bringing in wide receiver Stefon Diggs and running back Joe Mixon to make defending them a true jigsaw puzzle. That new-look secondary is going to have their work cut out for them, and Lawrence will likely have to lead some shoot-outs with Stroud.

Indianapolis Colts

Rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson looked electric for the Colts last season, threatening defenses with both his legs and his arm. But he suffered two injuries in four games before getting shut down for the year. It’s impossible to say whether the Colts will continue to rely on his rushing abilities after those injuries, but they’re doing what they can in the passing game, adding second-round rookie wide receiver Adonai Mitchell of Texas to round out the receiving corps with Michael Pittman and Josh Downs. On defense, they made edge defender Laitu Latu of UCLA the first defensive player off the board in this year’s draft, adding him to a young and raw defense that over-performed at times last year.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans had one of the noisiest offseasons in the league this year. On offense, they signed former Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley as well as Tyler Boyd, forming an impressive receiving unit along with veteran DeAndre Hopkins. They moved on from running back Derrick Henry, but did bring in former Dallas Cowboy Tony Pollard, who struggled last year but has shown lots of promise. On defense, they’re adding an impressive pair of corners in Chidobe Awuzie of the Cincinnati Bengals and L’Jarius Sneed of the Kansas City Chiefs, as well as safety Jamal Adams of the Seattle Seahawks. This is still a flawed roster, though. Their offensive line was one of the worst in the league last year, and first-round rookie JC Latham of Alabama may not be enough to elevate it. Meanwhile, they’re sticking with Will Levis at quarterback, who showed flashes in his rookie season but is still unproven.

Overall Outlook

Sportsbooks are putting the over/under of Jaguars wins at 8.5. For context, the over/under was 9.5 last season, and the Jags finished 9-8. PFF ranks Jacksonville as a bottom-10 team this season, with just a 5% chance of making it to the Super Bowl. 

A lot will have to go right to prove the doubters wrong. Rookie Brian Thomas will need to hit the ground running, the offensive line will need to better protect Trevor Lawrence, and Travon Walker will need to finally live up to his potential as a pass rusher. If all three of those things happen, this team can compete to win the division. Even if only two of those things happen, they can probably make the playoffs with a wildcard berth. But if none of them happen, this might be a team that only wins six or seven games.

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