Best NFL Offenses: Jacksonville Jaguars |An Ascending NFL Offense
The Jaguars are ascending. They recovered from the Urban Meyer season and have assembled one of the Best NFL Offenses in the league entering 2023. Doug Pederson was hired as head coach in 2022 to begin the transformation. The Jags already had on board their franchise quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, now widely considered a top-tier QB. They used free agency in 2022 to acquire veteran receiving talent, signing Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram. Those free agent signings were downplayed at the time, but turned out to be just what Lawrence needed to take the next steps in his development. Now the Jaguars are pushing to compete and do some damage in the cutthroat AFC.
The Jaguars turned things around quickly in 2022 after finishing last in the AFC South in 2021. They went 9-8 last season and captured the division title. The Jaguars then beat the Chargers in their first playoff appearance since 2017, and hung in with the Chiefs in the divisional round, losing by a single touchdown. The Jaguars’ offense was a force to be reckoned with in the second half of the 2022 season. They enter 2023 ready to tear through the AFC South and return to the playoffs. They are poised to take some steps forward and compete with the top offenses in the AFC. Their championship window is open with Lawrence and a promising collection of offensive talent on board.
YR 2 with Doug Pederson
YR 3 with Trevor Lawrence
Kirk coming off a career SZN
Zay coming off a career SZN
Engram best SZN since Rookie Year
Ridley replaces Marvin Jones Jr
Travis Etienne 1,441 scrimmage yards last year
— Coach Bruce (@CoachBruce122) April 7, 2023
Pederson is an offensive-minded coach and the Jags’ play-caller. He spent the early part of his career as an offensive assistant under Andy Reid with both the Chiefs and the Eagles. Pederson facilitated a quick turnaround in Philly after being named head coach in 2016. The Eagles won the Super Bowl in Pederson’s second season – with Carson Wentz and Nick Foles under center. Pederson now joins forces with Lawrence, one of the most gifted QB prospects in the last decade.
Pederson has designs on helping this Jacksonville offense surge in his second season in Duval County. A review of Jacksonville’s offense in 2022 shows significant improvements over the 2021 season. The Jags were No. 8 in EPA per play in 2022 after being No. 28 in EPA in 2021. They were also No. 5 in offensive success rate in 2022 after being No. 19 in that metric in 2021. Pederson and the Jags’ brass know opportunities like this with an elite QB are precious and plan to “put the pedal to the medal.”
Keeping our eyes on the ultimate prize!#DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/RsWiIBT0ej
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) March 29, 2023
The Jaguars’ post-bye record in 2022 was 6-1, after a 3-7 start to the season. Lawrence’s development as a passer was apparent during those final seven contests. He recorded three 300-plus yard passing games over those final seven games after doing so just once in the Jags’ first 10 contests. He also threw for at least three touchdowns in three of his last seven games after only doing so once in the first 10 games.
Lawrence was in the top half of NFL quarterbacks in nearly all Advanced Metrics during the full 2022 season, including True Passer Rating (No. 6), Expected Points Added (No. 7) and Accuracy Rating (No. 9). This was after he was near the bottom in nearly all Advanced Metrics the previous season under Urban Meyer. Lawrence will continue to develop chemistry with his passing game targets in 2023. He has been together with Kirk, Jones, and Engram for only one season. They are all returning for 2023. The Jags also traded for the recently reinstated Calvin Ridley.
Full IG video of Trevor Lawrence's throwing session with Calvin Ridley, Jamal Agnew, Evan Engram, Tim Jones, and Kevin Austin. Video via @BerkshireAaron https://t.co/kmGzVIzXKd pic.twitter.com/McRXbLByp3
— John Shipley (@_John_Shipley) April 6, 2023
Kirk, Jones and Engram all increased their production from previous seasons, fueled by Lawrence’s passing prowess. Kirk was No. 18 among WRs with 14.2 fantasy points per game (PPG) in 2022, as well as No. 13 with 1,108 receiving yards and No. 11 with eight total touchdowns. Those were all improvements over his 2021 ranks while in Arizona when he was No. 30 in fantasy points per game, No. 24 in receiving yards, and No. 33 in total touchdowns.
Jones was No. 31 among receivers in 2022 with 12.4 PPG and No. 17 in receptions with 82. He was No. 74 in fantasy points per game (6.2) in 2021 and No. 51 in receptions with 47. Engram also had a solid 2022. He was No. 7 among tight ends in PPG last season, No. 3 in catches at the position and No. 2 in yards after catch. Compare those numbers with 2021, when he was No. 23 in PPG, No. 26 in catches, and No. 22 in yards after catch.
The Jaguars now add Ridley, a one-time top receiver talent who was inactive for the latter part of the 2021 season while caring for his mental health. He then served a suspension for the 2022 season after gambling on NFL games but has been reinstated for 2023. It remains to be seen if Ridley can return to Alpha status after a year and a half out of the game, but he will, at the very least, require significant defensive resources. The Jags’ pass game is going to be a rising force in the 2023 season. NFL defenses should take note.
Jacksonville’s offensive line is in flux. The unit was superb in pass-protection last season, allowing just 28 sacks (No. 5 fewest behind Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Detroit and Dallas). They were less successful in the run game, however, ranking No. 32 in stuffed run rate (24-percent) and No. 28 in power, according to Football Outsiders. The Jaguars signed Brandon Scherff in free agency last offseason, but lost Jawaan Taylor to the Chiefs in free agency this offseason.
Tackle Cam Robinson injured his meniscus in Week 15 versus the Cowboys. The status of his injury going into the 2023 season is unknown. Walker Little, drafted at pick 45 overall in 2021, replaced Robinson and earned himself a spot on the line going forward. Overall, the offensive line showed proficiency in the passing game in 2022. The Jags will no doubt address the o-line in the upcoming draft.
Ascending Assets to Acquire
Elite QBs are are going to be drafted more aggressively in the 2023 fantasy season. Lawrence is currently being drafted as QB8 in Underdog drafts (fifth round overall). His ADP puts him at the end of a tier of QBs with elite potential. That means fantasy gamers can scoop up Lawrence in the middle rounds of drafts and acquire a QB with lofty upside. As the Jacksonville passing offense takes leaps forward in 2023, Lawrence will exceed his draft value and solidify his place with the league’s best fantasy QBs.
The Jaguars’ wide receiver corps will be one of the most ambiguous in fantasy in 2023. Kirk led the group in 2022, but Ridley is currently being drafted as the Alpha – as WR19, at the beginning of the fourth round. That may seem like a steep price to pay for a player who hasn’t played football in a season and a half, but Ridley is easily the most talented Jags receiver. He has hit the highest ceiling, posting a top five points per game finish the last time he was on the field for a full season (2020).
The Jags are going to have a high-volume pass attack in 2023, one which will support multiple top-24 receivers. Kirk is being drafted more than a round later than Ridley – in round five (WR28). Kirk was the Alpha in Jacksonville in 2022, leading the team in targets in eleven of 17 games and the Jags’ wide receivers in fantasy points in nine of 17. With Ridley spreading out opposing secondaries, Kirk will benefit and provide some boom weeks.
Prepare for Takeoff
The runway is set and the pieces are in place for a Jags’ liftoff in 2023. We witnessed in Jacksonville an up and coming passing offense at the end of 2022. Lawrence is ready to take his place among the bright young stars in the NFL.
He has delivered on the promise of his prospect profile and the offense in Jacksonville has stabilized with a new coach, offensive system and supporting talent. Remember these pieces have been in place for just one season. Jump aboard the Jags’ offense in 2023. They are ready to rise up.