The Jacksonville Jaguars’ wide receiver room was a position of transition this offseason. But so far through the early stages of training camp, the changes to the room appear to be only positive to this point.
While former second-round draft picks DJ Chark and Laviska anchored the group, the Jaguars had several veterans depart as a result of expiring deals, along with a change at wide receivers coach after a four-year tenure from Keenan McCardell.
Add in the new offensive scheme and front office, and the changes came in waves. The Jaguars weren’t shy to add receivers in March, signing 10th-year receiver Marvin Jones and former first-rounder Phillip Dorsett in free agency, along with former Detroit Lions return man/receiver Jamal Agnew.
For a rookie head coach like Urban Meyer, the preferred method to build his receiver unit in free agency and add experience to the unit was clear. He would lean on his veteran coaching staff, particularly offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who coached Jones the two years previously in Detroit.
was the same with Phillip Dorsett. Darrell [Bevell] had a lot to do with that,” Meyer said Wednesday following practice when asked about Bevell’s impact on the decision to sign the wideouts.
“I don’t know Darell that well
but he has earned my respect because everything he has said about Marvin — right on. Everything he
said about Phillip Dorsett, he was very involved in those two and [Wide Receivers Coach] Sanjay [Lal], I
think Sanjay helped a little.”
Outside of No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, no offseason addition was more important to the Jaguars’ offense than Jones. The veteran receiver knows Bevell’s scheme and coaching style inside and out and has the experience to provide to the receiver unit that Chark and Shenault may be lacking.
Together, Shenault (14 career games) and Chark (39 career games) have combined for 198 career catches. Compare that to Jones’ 116 career games and 442 career catches in the regular season and playoffs, and Jones’ experience is invaluable and completely incomparable.
“Yeah, I think it’s really important to
have that guy — particularly for us, in terms of our receiver room is a young room just guys that have
been in the league for a couple years,” Bevell said on Tuesday. “To have that veteran to come in — one to kind of show them how
he has lasted 10 years. That’s not the norm and he has done it at a high-level so how does he take care
of his body? What does he do in the offseason?
In the last two seasons alone, only five players have caught more touchdowns than Jones, who recorded 138 catches on 206 targets for 1,757 yards (12.7 yards per catch) and 18 scores in two seasons in Bevell’s offense. By comparison, Chark is the only Jaguars receiver with double-digit touchdowns in the last two seasons with 13.
Jones has been a standout performer in training camp, the kind of addition that has helped Meyer realize what kind of valuable resources he has on his coaching staff.
“Yeah I think it’s all — you know the reality is you had two very
young talented players that the organization invested in,” Meyer said Wednesday.
“Let’s get a
veteran pro that knows how to handle himself and boy has he been good. I can’t overemphasize how
good he has been for our team.”
And for every time Jones makes a positive impact on Shenault, Chark, Lawrence and the rest of the Jaguars’ offense, it serves as another reminder of the extended impact of Bevell and Meyer’s key offensive hires.