Towards the ’22 offseason

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JACKSONVILLE — Jaguars “experts” Rick Ballou, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, JP Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan take a first look at the issues facing the Jaguars as the 2022 offseason begins …

Jaguars sideline reporter Rick Ballou

Pleasant surprise: Tight end Dan Arnold is much better than I thought; unfortunately, he got injured at the end of the 2021 season. The tight end position has been a revolving door for the Jaguars, and it looks like they finally have a guy who can catch 50-60 balls a year if he stay healthy. Jacksonville has plenty of holes on its list, but the tight end shouldn’t be one of them.

Areas to address: The offense. Jacksonville has its quarterback, its running backs and its tight ends; now the Jaguars need to address the wide receiver and offensive line. They must decide free agents Cam Robinson (left tackle), Andrew Norwell (left guard), AJ Cann (right guard), Tyler Shatley (center), DJ Chark Jr. (wide receiver), Laquon Treadwell (wide receiver) and Tavon Austin (wide receiver). These two positions are essential for the Jaguars to improve. The good news is that they’ll have second or third most money in free agency and plenty of draft capital, including the first overall pick.

Traits I look for in a head coach: Jacksonville needs a coach who will connect with the players. The game keeps changing and the NFL Old School is long gone. The Jaguars need to find a coach who understands what the players think and what they want – and at the same time the players want to be coached by someone who always demands the best from players. Choose a coach who the players feel cares about them personally; in return, they will walk through a brick wall for him.

Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars

Pleasant surprise: Quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s growth didn’t come as a surprise, but it was so good to see what followed – culminating in his best game ever in the regular season finale. The game has clearly slowed down for him in the last few games and we really saw the potential. I was also encouraged by some guys on defense – lineman Dawuane Smoot, cornerback Tyson Campbell and safety Andre Cisco – in a few flashes late. I thought veteran free agent linebacker Damien Wilson was way better than expected. Veterans Malcolm Brown and Roy Robertson-Harris will be good defensive line staples.

Areas to address: This one is easy; they need to find playmakers on the outside. Looking at the playoffs, so many quick, fast, nervous receivers are helping their teams go further. And there were so many star receivers in the playoffs – Deebo Samuel of San Francisco, Cooper Cupp of the Los Angeles Rams, Ja’Marr Chase of Cincinnati and Tyreek Hill of Kansas City. The Jaguars need to find receivers. They also need help in other places – another offensive lineman or two, an edge forward, a tight end. But the receiver jumps off the page.

Traits I look for in a head coach: Above all, a good leader: create a culture, an adult, someone the players will really look up to, no nonsense off the field. My preference is someone who has been a head coach, but otherwise: a rookie who really knows the league, is organized, etc. An offensive-minded guy would be great, but with good leadership and a good plan, the coach will find the right way to develop Lawrence.

Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end

Pleasant surprise: The defense was a pleasant surprise as they had some really big moments in the season. Unity’s play against Buffalo was impressive, as were Indianapolis’ two games. The unit has come a long way since 2020 when it was among the worst in the league.

Areas to address: Offensively, the Jaguars need to find more weapons for Lawrence and improve along the offensive line. Defensively, they need to find a more consistent way to affect the passer in a passing league.

Traits I look for in a head coach: The Jaguars need a head coach who is a solid leader with a commitment to changing the culture of a franchise that hasn’t seen enough wins. There are so many traits needed to be a worthy leader, and the Jaguars need to find the coach who has many of them.

Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Athletic Director

Pleasant surprise: I think a pleasant surprise was the amount of production the Jaguars got from a few players signed to be special teams contributors only. Wide receiver/returner Jamal Agnew and safety Rudy Ford gave the Jags much more than expected on offense and defense. Some of the Jaguars’ most electric plays of the season came from Agnew in the second leg and on offense. Arnold’s potential also falls into this category, but – like Agnew – his season has been derailed by injury.

Areas to address: The biggest: more playmakers – on both sides of the ball. The Jaguars have hit very few homers this year and these games are game-changing. In attack, speed is lacking. In defense, ball-hawking players and the inside pass rush are lacking. The Jags need to address a lot of things, but finding top-notch players in free agency and the draft is paramount.

Traits I look for in a head coach: The trait of a head coach that stands out for me is confidence. Jaguars have been dysfunctional for a variety of reasons in recent years. They need someone that this organization, the locker room, and the fan base can trust to get it right, get it right, and lead this franchise out of the NFL basement.

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