With the 2022 preseason in the books, hope is on the horizon for the Jaguars

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

The Jacksonville Jaguars have wrapped up the 2022 preseason and look to charge full throttle into the inaugural campaign of new head coach Doug Pedersen. 

The Jaguars played a total of four preseason games and – you guessed it – lost all four. While losses are something Jags fans are accustomed to dreading, there was value found in places other than the final score. Progress is indeed being made within the organization. One just has to be willing to take a deeper look to see it.

Returning stars such as Josh Allen look to provide stability and leadership on a roster with many new faces. (Justin Nedrow)

Things got started with the NFL Hall of Fame Game between the Jaguars and the Las Vegas Raiders in early August. Jacksonville was routed 27-11, but with no starters seeing meaningful action, this wasn’t much of a concern among the teal and black faithful. Week one of the traditional preseason slate rolled around, seeing the Jags take on the Cleveland Browns. 

The ever-controversial Deshaun Watson, who faced upwards of 20 accusations of “coercive and lewd sexual behavior during massage appointments,” started at quarterback for the Browns. While this decision stole national headlines, the Jacksonville starters put on a solid performance. While a completion percentage of 50% isn’t exactly wowing, second-year QB Trevor Lawrence made some nice throws, including a touchdown pass to new Jaguar Evan Engram.

Second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence enters 2022 with pressure mounting, as does for any first-overall pick. (Justin Nedrow)

A 24-13 loss to Cleveland may not look sexy on paper, but it was clear that there was indeed improvement from last season. Their next preseason affair saw the Jags take on another AFC North opponent,  the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

The duel with the Steelers produced the closest score, with a 16-15 loss, but the 279 yards allowed by the Jacksonville defense was a highlight of the night. Improvement among the defense was evident throughout the preseason, with newcomer Arden Key producing plenty of excitement on the defensive line. 

The last exhibition with the Atlanta Falcons didn’t produce many talking points, as starters didn’t see much action. A 28-12 loss brought the preseason to a close, with focus shifting to the releasing of the roster and week one of the regular season.

The Jaguars made headlines upon signing former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk to a four-year, $72 million contract in the offseason. (Justin Nedrow)

The receiving corps has been an area of contention, with a pool of players competing for five roster spots. Tuesday’s release of the condensed 53-man roster put to rest debates over who would make the cut, as the Jones trio, Jamal Agnew, and new signing Christian Kirk make up the unit.

This Jones trio couldn’t be any different from each other. Stretching from undrafted free agent (UDFA) Tim Jones to new signee Zay Jones, all the way to 11th-year veteran Marvin Jones Jr. Tim Jones’ elevation from the practice squad to the roster is arguably the best story from this preseason. He signed a UDFA deal with the Jaguars in May of 2021, now breaking into the league at 24 years old. 

Tim Jones will look to make a name for himself in an AFC South division littered with talented receivers. (Justin Nedrow)

A less positive headline from Jaguars receivers was the end of the Laviska Shenault Jr. experiment. The 2020 second-round pick out of Colorado had expectations of being an explosive threat all over the field for Jacksonville, but the hype never fully materialized. Further adding to the Jags’ history of unsuccessful draft picks in early rounds, Shenault Jr. was traded to the Carolina Panthers for future sixth- and seventh-round draft picks.

Moving down the line of scrimmage, there is plenty of reason for excitement. Last year’s first-round pick Travis Etienne Jr. was sidelined for the entire season due to injury, but the running back showed glimpses of his potential this preseason. Once paired with a healthy James Robinson, the Jacksonville backfield could be a nightmare for opposing defenses.

There is one last matter of business to address from the 2022 preseason: Who will kick field goals for the Jaguars? For a team that sputters in the endzone as much as they do, this is a pretty important question. After bouncing through different options – and goal posts – the squad decided on rookies James McCourt and Jake Verity.

You read that right. After weeks of drama over one of the less glamorous positions in football, the team still hasn’t decided, opting to go to waivers to fuel one last fight to be named starter. Who knows when a decision will be made, with head coach Doug Pedersen referring to the situation as “an ongoing battle.” 

While things are far from perfect in Duval County, the Jaguars seem to be in a much better place entering the season than in past years. Fans will have a better idea of how things might go when the Jags open against the Washington Commanders on Sep. 11. As for now, it can’t hurt to hope. 


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