One year ago, Jaguars fans were still recovering from the disaster that was the Urban Meyer era. They were also looking forward to finding out who the team was taking with their second No. 1 overall pick in a row. The man to replace Meyer was former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson and the pick would ultimately be EDGE Travon Walker. The rookie made an impact in 2022, but Pederson was undoubtedly the biggest addition of the offseason. A complete cultural shift in the locker room was followed by a change in the outcomes of the games. Led by a phenomenal rebound from Trevor Lawrence, the Jags claimed the AFC South title for the second time since conferences were realigned in 2002. Even more impressive was their historic, 27-point comeback over the Chargers to make it out of the Wild Card Round. The upstart Jags were then sent home by the Chiefs via a seven-point loss in the Divisional Round.
Key Offensive Stats
- Points per game: 23.8 (10th)
- EPA per play: 0.05 (8th)
- Dropback EPA per play: 0.14 (6th)
- Passing yards per game: 232.9 (10th)
- Rush EPA per play: -0.1 (25th)
- Rush yards per game: 124.5 (14th)
The 2022 season gave us a completely different version of Lawrence. Per Pro Football Focus the Clemson product increased his Big Time Throw rate by 1.2 percent while cutting his Turnover Worthy Play rate by .7 percent. He also boosted his -4.9 completion percent over expected—one of the worst marks in the league—to +1.9 percent. Christian Kirk, signed to a lucrative contract in the offseason, was the biggest beneficiary of this leap. He paced the Jags with 84 catches for 1,108 yards and eight scores. All three marks were career-highs. Free agent acquisitions Zay Jones and Evan Engram also pitched in for over 700 yards a piece. With Travis Etienne missing all of his rookie season, Jacksonville essentially got an extra first-round selection on the roster in 2022. That pick generated the second-most rushing yards over expected at the fourth-highest rate, per NFL's NextGenStats.
Key Defensive Stats
- Points per game: 20.6 (12th)
- EPA per play: -0.02 (12th)
- Dropback EPA per play: 0.04 (17th)
- Passing yards per game: 238.5 (28th)
- Rush EPA per play: -0.12 (6th)
- Rush yards per game: 114.8 (12th)
The Jaguars' defense played the run well but was a middling unit against the pass. In today's NFL, that's not the best setup. Teams chose to attack Jacksonville through the air and the Jags logged a top-10 pass rate over expected against. The good news was that one of the team's corners, Tyson Campbell, was up to the task. PFF charted him as a top-20 corner in coverage snaps per catch and per target. The pass-rush as a whole was also strong, earning the fourth-highest pressure rate and the sixth-highest PFF grade as a unit. On the downside, Jacksonville had one of the league's easier schedules. Using DVOA, which adjusts for opponent, they ranked as the No. 11 defense against the run and the No. 30 defense against the pass.
Draft Picks (Top-150)
24th, 56th, 88th, 121st, and 127th
Notable Free Agents
RT Jawaan Taylor, WR Marvin Jones, EDGE Arden Key, and EDGE Dawuane Smoot
CB Shaquill Griffin ($13.1 million in savings), S Rayshawn Jenkins ($6.5 million), and LB Shaquille Quarterman ($1 million)
The Jags placed the franchise tag on Evan Engram but can still work toward a long-term extension. Calvin Ridley was also reinstated. The pair of moves put Jacksonville over the cap, though it won't be hard for them to get back under.
Shaquill Griffin's play fell off in the five games he was healthy for last year. The money the Jags can save by releasing him all but ensures he will be cut, leaving a large hole in the lineup opposite Campbell.
The Jags are losing multiple defensive linemen in free agency. Walker is under contract for three more years and Josh Allen had his fifth-year option picked up. That leaves the team in need of reinforcements on the interior.
Walker Little could take over at right tackle if Jawaan Taylor walks in free agency. That leaves center and left guard as strong needs.
Having found success under Pederson and his staff, the Jags made almost no changes to their coaching setup for 2023. Bills wide receivers coach Chad Hall was hired for the same role. Greg Austin was plucked from the college ranks to serve as an offensive quality control coach.
The Jags have some cap maneuvers to make in the offseason and aren't swimming in draft picks, but they have the greatest asset a franchise can ask for: a cornerstone quarterback on a rookie contract. Lawrence has a lower cap hit than Jameis Winston and Mitch Trubisky in 2023. Jacksonville has also paid for a considerable upgrade at receiver in Ridley ahead of time. If Ridley is still a top-end wideout and the Jags can make some steps with their offensive line, this scoring unit has the potential to be one of the best in the league. With the Chiefs, Bills, and Bengals all eying Super Bowl runs every year, an elite offense is just the table stakes in the AFC these days.