Three Questions for Divisional Round Losers: Jacksonville Jaguars

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Three Questions for Divisional Round Losers: Jacksonville Jaguars


The Jaguars were the feel-good story that took the NFL by storm down the stretch. The good vibes surrounding Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars peaked in a historic playoff comeback against the Jaguars. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, the magic ran out in Kansas City last week.

What’s next for the Jaguars?

Where does the Jaguars offseason wish list start?

The Jaguars were a vastly improved team this year. While plenty of it centers around Trevor Lawrence’s marked improvement, their offseason spending spree played a significant role.

Jacksonville spent in buckets last offseason to put weapons around Lawrence. And hey, what do you know, it worked! Jacksonville went from a three-win team with the No. 1 pick in the draft to a playoff team.

If Jacksonville wants to keep the magic alive, they’ll have some more work to do this offseason. The immediate need comes in the secondary. Jacksonville’s pass defense was not good this year. While the defense ranked 12th in total points allowed (20.6), it was primarily thanks to the run defense.

The Jaguars allowed 4,055 passing yards (28th) and 238.5 per contest (28th) this season. Tyson Campbell had a solid season, ranking 6th among cornerbacks in the league with an 80.7 coverage grade at PFF. Montaric Brown (42.9), Chris Claybrooks (51.0), and Darious Williams (62.2) were not as well graded.

Safeties Andre Cisco and Rayshawn Jenkins didn’t fare well either. Jacksonville was also one of the worst teams in the NFL when it came to covering opposing tight ends. As a result, the Jags allowed Kelce to haul in 14 passes for two touchdowns in their divisional round loss.

The secondary will need to be much better in 2023.

After their unlikely playoff run, are the Jaguars the real deal?

Jacksonville is the real deal, folks.

They’ve got the coach. They’ve got the quarterback. And they’ve got a young and developing nucleus on both sides of the ball that should have them in a position to own the AFC South for years to come.

I wrote after their loss to the Chiefs that this wouldn’t be the final Mahomes vs. Lawrence playoff battle, which is true. The difference is that the Jaguars will no longer be the Cinderella team. Instead, they’ll be expected to control the AFC South out of the gates.

Jacksonville’s front office will need to spend to supplement the roster this offseason. More importantly, Head Coach Doug Pederson has to continue to develop Lawrence into the star we saw when he helped erase a 27-point deficit against the Chargers a few weeks ago.

So, yeah, the Jaguars are the real deal. The question now is whether or not they can live up to the new expectations they’ve set.

What’s left to spend?

Now, here comes the tricky part. Spotrac has Jacksonville in the bottom five in available salary cap space heading into this offseason. So, some cap gymnastics are in order for the Jaguars.

Jacksonville is expected to be over the cap by $18 million. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin ($13.5 million), defensive tackle Roy Robertson-Harris ($7.8 million), and safety Rayshawn Jenkins ($6.3 million) could be cut candidates. Those three cuts would clear up roughly $28 million for Jacksonville this offseason.

Still, it will be a quieter offseason for the Jaguars than the one we saw last spring.

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.