Moeller: Stage is Set for Jaguars Season Opener

By Jeff Moeller, Florida Sports Wire

JACKSONVILLE  – The stage is set, and the 53-member cast has been assembled.

This year’s Jaguars’ version is ready and the playbill has been printed.

The rave previews have already been registered,and the tickets have been sold.

It is almost showtime.

The big question is whether this season will be a successful sequel or a stalled show. All the signs have pointed to the former instead of the latter. 

Director Doug Pederson towed a straight line in summer camp and the offense and defense were fairly well aligned.

In the Jags’ final preseason game against the Dolphins, the first-team offense looked in sync, as the offensive line gave Trevor Lawrence the time he needed. There didn’t seem to be any major concerns over the two tackle positions.

The spotlight will be on top pick Anton Harrsion , who will open at right tackle. Walter Little will be a left tackle until Cam Robinson comes back from his suspension.

The star of the offensive side was their running game with rookie Tank Brigsby,  who got plenty of reps all summer, and has looked like he can easily step in at any time. Veteran D’Ernest Johnson looked good, and JaMycal Hasty also has plenty of looks in a supporting role.

All three will help lessen the load on Travis Etienne, and provide a change of pace in the running game.

The Jags’ faithful are anxious to see how the dynamic between Lawrence and Calvin Ridley will play itself out. Ridley has some moments in the preseason, but now the real show begins. Lawrence did rely on last year’s supporting cast of Zay Jones and Christian Kirk, who will get their share of the lines. It also will be interesting to see how rookie wide receivers Elijah Cooks and  Parker Washington fit into the mix.

Evan Engram got a nice paycheck from his franchise tag, and what will he do for an encore, something that plagued him with his Giants’ career. Rookie Brenton Strange could get more time than expected due to Pederson’s penchant for a two-tight end attack.

With a plethora of passing possibilities, offensive coordinator Press Taylor could open the passing game up more for Lawrence.

Defensively, the big questions are the pass rush and the secondary. The Jags were effective against the run last season, and a number of people are still in place.

The pass rush will be on the linebacker/edge rusher core of second-year standouts Travon Walker and Devin Lloyd along with four-year vet Josh Allen  will be counted on for some push. Foyesade Oluokon is a tackling machine.

Roy Robertson-Harris and Jermiah Ledbetter are solid vets with some mileage up front,and rookie Tyler Lacy could be the surprise here.

The secondary has another year under its belt, after they came into their own at the end of last season. However, there can’t be a letdown here.

Brandon McManus was brought into the fold to provide a seasoned presence to the kicking game. He could take center stage on a number of occasions this season.

Pederson and his staff are in place for Year Two, and they appear comfortable and confident.

The Jags will be back at work after the remnants of Hurricane Idalia, and have roughly a week left before they board the plane for Indianapolis.

They look ready for a banner year ahead.  Are you?

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