The Jaguars are undergoing perhaps the biggest rebuild of the team’s relatively short history in the NFL. With wholesale changes in the front office, as well as coaching and personnel overhauls, the Jags are set to embark on a revival mission, after years of disappointment.
Of particular note: a change at the top with new head coach Urban Meyer coming into town. Another major change will come at the quarterback position, with former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, one of the best collegiate prospects to enter the NFL in quite some time, taking over the offense.
The excitement for the team in and around Duval County has, perhaps, never been higher. But the Jags’ performance on the field this fall will ultimately decide whether the hype is warranted.
Let’s dive into the five most important storylines for the Jaguars this season.
Will Trevor Lawrence make an instant impact?
For years, Jacksonville has chased the elusive franchise quarterback. And for years they’ve not been successful.
For Lawrence, his impact on the field will likely be felt right away. With a strong arm and pin-point accuracy to boot, Lawrence has demonstrated just how pro-ready he is. While there will be plenty of rookie mistakes, don’t be surprised to see Lawrence raise the bar for Jacksonville quarterback play (it’s a low bar, after all).
How much of a difference will the defensive scheme switch make?
Jacksonville’s been stubborn to switch defensive schemes. That changes this season.
The Jags brought in defensive coordinator Joe Cullen, formerly the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive line coach. Cullen will steer the team through a transition to the 3-4 from the 4-3.
This transition will likely be a stark difference from what Jaguars fans are used to over the past several seasons. The expectation is for the Jaguars to be less predictable, giving fans something new to look at over the year.
First-year head coach Urban Meyer has much to prove
While Meyer has had plenty of success at the collegiate level, there will be plenty of eyes on him this year, his first season as a head coach in the NFL.
Meyer has already gotten his taste of NFL media since he was hired. Dealing with the aftermath of hiring Chris Doyle, who has since resigned, along with bringing in his former protégé in quarterback-turned-tight end Tim Tebow has allowed plenty to question his decision making.
Not all has been negative, however, as Meyer has shown throughout his time as the team’s head coach that he demands, and gets respect from his players. It will be something to keep an eye on moving forward as Meyer attempts to navigate the <big leagues>.
What role, if any, will Tim Tebow play this year?
The Jaguars brought in Tebow, formally a quarterback in college and the pros, to play tight end this season. While the move was first seen as a potential distraction, the Jaguars have done well in keeping him out of the spotlight, treating him as just any other player on the team.
That, however, will change if Tebow actually makes the team come cut-down day in August.
If Tebow were to make the team, expect the Jaguars to use him as an H-back, playing in the backfield and inline on the line of scrimmage often. While he will not likely play in a traditional tight end role, Meyer is sure to cook up something for one of his most prized players over the years.
How does Jacksonville match up in the AFC South?
Jacksonville is entering this season as the team with the most to prove throughout the league. After finishing with a league-worst 1-15 record, and earning the “prize” of the first-overall pick, the Jaguars’ expectations are much higher this year than many would expect.
Following a dead-last placement in the AFC South last year, the Jaguars are looking to improve dramatically, taking down some of its toughest rivals in the process. With questions at quarterback in Indianapolis and Houston, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Jaguars take advantage.
Don’t expect the Jaguars to go from worst to first in just one season. But given the changes and the expectations surrounding its starting quarterback, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see the team fare better than many expect.
This feature originally appeared in Void Magazine’s August 2021 issue.