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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Jacksonville Jaguars 2015: Putting the Plan Into Action

For the team to have any kind of success in 2015, the Jacksonville Jaguars must add more successful dimensions to the team’s offense.

That means becoming an active player in free agency, working with the components of an offensive line that still needs stability, and finding a tight end that can score and move the chains and focus on finding a running game that is more than just pedestrian between the tackles.

It sounds like a lot of repetition, but in reality, this is the crux of the team’s challenges it faces in March and April, finding parts to fit an unbalanced puzzle.

When a question was asked of senior writer John Oehser about what team needs will be the focus of general manager Dave Caldwell’s plan in the off-season, the answer was succinct, yet detailed.

Right tackle, tight end, outside linebacker and free safety. Again, that’s my “surmising” and what actually happens largely will depend on who’s available in free agency. It’s pretty much accepted the Jaguars will address right tackle sometime this offseason, and it stands to reason their first look would be toward free agency. The position is generally considered thin this year in free agency and if the Jaguars agree with that assessment, then they may first target a player or two and then – in the event that they don’t get their targeted players – they could look toward the draft. They also could look beyond those four positions if they believe they can upgrade significantly. The plan is to spend significantly more than the past two off-seasons, and considering the Jaguars were 3-13 last season, there are probably more than four positions that could be upgraded.

Like all fans here in town, I am worried the team will take most of the free agency period and come away with nothing or not enough to make me think that “progress” Coach Gus Bradley talks about constantly, will happen anytime soon.

No matter what happens, everything on offense, which includes three talented second-year wide receivers and potentially the return of Justin Blackmon, has to center around Blake Bortles and new offensive coordinator Greg Olson.

Olson, who was hired last week as offensive coordinator and who went through the process this week of finalizing his staff, was striking in his focus on Bortles Wednesday. He mentioned the Jaguars’ playmakers at wide receiver. He mentioned the importance of the offensive line, and without question the offensive line and the running game are key for the offense. You can’t struggle to run the way the Jaguars did last season – and you obviously can’t allow 71 sacks – and hope to be competitive.

But all of those things can improve and without solid quarterback play you’re only going to improve so much. And Olson said really, you need more than “solid.”

“The teams in the playoffs are getting there for the most part based on the play of their quarterback and the development of their quarterback,” Olson said. “We’ll do whatever we can to develop Blake’s strengths and play upon his strengths and the playmakers around him.

“That will be first and foremost in our minds.”

If the Jaguars are going to look toward free agency to shore up the offense, Dallas’s right tackle Doug Free, the Miami Dolphins tight end Charles Clay and the Patriots free safety Devin McCourty should all be high on their signing list.

The fact new offensive line coach and quarterbacks coach Nathaniel Hackett were both on the Buffalo Bills coaching staff last season could be a real coup for the team. Jerry Hughes is a pass rushing defensive end who could be on the team’s radar as could be Erik Pears to play right tackle and former Union County High School star CJ Spiller, who may have been the choice of the Jaguars in 2010, if he had not been picked one choice ahead of the Jaguars in the first round in the NFL Draft.


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