Let’s take a quick tour through the AFC South’s offseason to this point.
The Indianapolis Colts replaced Philip Rivers with Carson Wentz in a move that has a reasonable chance of being a downgrade. They lost Denico Autry to the intra-division Tennessee Titans and replaced him with Isaac Rochell. Longtime left tackle Anthony Castonzo retired and is set to be replaced by a combination of Sam Tevi and Julie’n Davenport based on the current depth chart. On the surface, the Colts got worse.
Tennessee improved its defensive front with the additions of the aforementioned Autry and Bud Dupree, but it came at the cost of the rest of the team's roster. The Titans cut two quality starting cornerbacks — Malcolm Butler and Adoree’ Jackson — and replaced them with Janoris Jenkins outside. Dennis Kelly and Kenny Vaccaro joined Tennessee’s two cornerbacks as cap casualties. And none of Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith or Adam Humphries will be returning as a receiving option for Ryan Tannehill. Those personnel changes paired with the loss of Arthur Smith at offensive coordinator make it easy to see this team taking a step back in 2021, as well.
Then, there’s the Houston Texans. They have the lowest projected 2021 team win total in the NFL, at just 4.5 wins. There’s a very good chance they finish as one of the worst teams in the league next season.
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The Jacksonville Jaguars, owners of the worst record in the NFL a season ago, have a fighting chance to make some noise in a weakened AFC South. Unlike the other three teams, they have improved over the past few months and stand to continue improving through a bevy of early draft picks.
Here is a glimpse at where Jacksonville's starting lineups stand.
Jacksonville Jaguars Projected Offense in 2020 vs. 2021
|Position||2020 starter||2021 starter|
|QB||Gardner Minshew||Trevor Lawrence|
|RB||James Robinson||James Robinson|
|WR||D.J. Chark Jr.||D.J. Chark Jr.|
|WR||Laviska Shenault Jr.||Laviska Shenault Jr.|
|WR||Keelan Cole||Marvin Jones Jr.|
|TE||Tyler Eifert||James O’Shaughnessy|
|LT||Cam Robinson||Cam Robinson|
|LG||Andrew Norwell||Andrew Norwell|
|C||Brandon Linder||Brandon Linder|
|RG||A.J. Cann||A.J. Cann|
|RT||Jawaan Taylor||Jawaan Taylor|
I took the liberty of adding Lawrence into the starting lineup prior to the 2021 NFL Draft. His addition will be the franchise-defining move of this offseason. Jacksonville’s success in both 2021 and beyond will largely ride on whether Lawrence can live up to the lofty expectations set for him. His addition alone has the potential to drag Jacksonville into relevancy next season.