JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1-15)
CAMP SITE: Jacksonville, Florida
LAST YEAR: The worst season in franchise history ended with a 15-game losing streak and the firing of coach Doug Marrone. General manager Dave Caldwell was let go in late November, months after he parted with several key veterans and put Jacksonville in rebuilding mode long before the opener. Owner Shad Khan admittedly kept Caldwell and Marrone in place longer than he should have, but he wanted them to clean up salary cap and locker room messes. They essentially laid the foundation for new coach Urban Meyer, a three-time national champion coach who has revamped every aspect of the floundering organization in his six months on the job.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: Meyer, QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne, RB Carlos Hyde, WR Marvin Jones, TE Tim Tebow, TE Chris Manhertz, LT Walker Little, DE Roy Robertson-Harris, NT Malcom Brown, LB Damien Wilson, CB Shaquill Griffin, SS Rayshawn Jenkins, CB Tyson Campbell, FS Andre Cisco.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: WR Keelan Cole, WR Chris Conley, TE Tyler Eifert.
CAMP NEEDS: Get Lawrence, the No. 1 pick in the draft, more comfortable with the offense and his new playmakers. Lawrence was limited through much of the offseason, first because he was recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left, non-throwing shoulder, then because of a hamstring injury. Lawrence’s development is key to making Jacksonville the perennial playoff contender Meyer envisions. Defense should be considerably better after trading for Brown, committing nearly $100 million to sign Robertson-Harris, Griffin and Jenkins in free agency, and switching to a 3-4 scheme that better fits pass rushers Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson.
KEY CAMP COMPETITIONS: Tebow remains a compelling figure for many reasons, not the least being his quest to return to the NFL after a lengthy layoff and a position change. If he makes the team at 34 years old, it likely will be as a reserve tight end who knows Meyer’s methodology as well as anyone, plays special teams, provides extra goal-line and short-yardage options, and serves as an emergency quarterback. Little, a second-round pick who hasn’t played since Stanford’s 2019 season opener, could push Cam Robinson as Lawrence’s blind-side protector. Robinson is playing under the franchise tag, a one-year, $13.75 million deal that makes him the team’s second-highest paid player behind LG Andrew Norwell ($15 million). Josh Lambo and Aldrick Rosas are vying for the kicking job, an interesting battle that pits the NFL’s most accurate kicker over the past four seasons (Lambo) against a 2018 Pro Bowl selection (Rosas).
EXPECTATIONS: Betting against Meyer would be a risky move considering he’s won at each of his previous stops: Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State. Khan insists he finally “got it right” after whiffing by hiring Marrone, Tom Coughlin, Caldwell, Gus Bradley and Mike Mularkey. Khan’s take on the Meyer-Lawrence combination is “go with winners and then let them build.” While Meyer already is putting his stamp on the organization, it’s still a team that won one game last season and remains one of the youngest in the league. Bottom line is it could take time; he hoisted national championship trophies in his second year at Florida and third year at Ohio State.
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