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Packers 2020 Opponents Preview: Jaguars counting on youth for improvement

After trading away a veteran leader, the Jaguars loaded up on defense in the draft and free agency. But will that lead to a better result in 2020 than they had in 2019?

Los Angeles Chargers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

This is the second installment in a series that will examine each of the Green Bay Packers’ scheduled 2020 opponents, their offseason changes, and their statuses heading into training camp. We open up with a look at the teams in the AFC North, starting with the Packers’ week 10 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars have demonstrated some fascinating statistical results over the franchises’ six meetings in history. Four of those games have been decided by seven points or less, all six have been separated by ten points or less, and neither team has ever reached the 30-point mark in a single game — each team has recorded 28 points once.

The Packers lead the all-time series between the two franchises at 4-2-0 and they carry a two-game winning streak into 2020 with victories in 2012 and 2016. In 2020, the two franchises are scheduled to meet in week 10 at Lambeau Field.

Jacksonville enters 2020 fresh off a last-place finish in the AFC South and a 6-10 record. With two first-round draft picks thanks to the Jalen Ramsey trade, they pieces on defense with cornerback C.J. Henderson and pass-rusher K’Lavon Chaisson, and geared up with some big free agent signings on that side of the ball as well. That will be necessary, however, after trading perennial Pro Bowler Calais Campbell to the Baltimore Ravens for just a fifth-round pick. Will these additions translate to a better defense than the one that put up a 21st-place ranking in points and a 24th-place finish in yards allowed last year?

Here’s a look at the Jags’ offseason and upcoming training camp storylines courtesy of our colleages at Big Cat Country, the SB Nation Jags blog.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Notable free agency additions: LB Joe Schobert, DL Rodney Gunter, CB Rashaan Melvin, DL Al Woods

Notable opt-outs: DL Al Woods

Over/under 10 wins? Under

Rookie I’m most excited about: K’Lavon Chaisson is going to be an incredibly interesting watch if the league actually moves forward with the season despite a global pandemic. Admittedly, I didn’t watch a lot of Chaisson in college, but there are several big pieces in place on this defense — new middle linebacker Joe Schobert, talented edge rusher Josh Allen, a glimmer of hope we may see Yannick Ngakoue play in 2020 — that will allow Chaisson to move around and use what looks to be an incredible amount of athleticism and natural talent.

Best position battle heading into training camp: On defense, I think it’s cornerback. I don’t think this team has a set depth chart in mind from top to bottom and depending on how well Tre Herndon, Rashaan Melvin, D.J. Hayden, and rookie Josiah Scott perform, the alignment could look very different from how we think in July.

As far as offense, it’s tight end. This team hasn’t had a good group of tight ends in decades. Marcedes Lewis was a standout in his time here, but he was always a one-man show. (APC note: and now he’s ours!) Aside from him, it’s always been a bunch of journeymen or UDFA’s cobbled together as though the position were an afterthought. With Josh Oliver healthy and newly signed Tyler Eifert in as TE1, it will be an interesting watch. Wide receiver will also be interesting with D.J. Chark as the top dog, but rookies like Laviska Shenault and Collin Johnson chomping at the bit, Dede Westbrook needing to prove he’s still worthy of significant snaps, and Keelan Cole looking to hang on for just one more year.

Biggest storyline heading into training camp: Can Gardner Minshew be a franchise quarterback? It’s that simple. The Jaguars will likely have two top-15 picks in next year’s NFL Draft and plenty of ammunition to take a top guy like Trevor Lawrence… but if Minshew can up his game and this team can get somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 or 8 wins, we might have our future under center.

Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: How will Jay Gruden’s new offense look? How will Gardner Minshew respond to a more West Coast offense asking him to be a little more mobile? These are the questions with answers that will define the season.

Notable injuries heading into training camp: Josh Oliver was injured early last season and it hampered his rookie development considerably. Myles Jack was put on injured reserve late last season with a knee injury. Was that because the season was lost or was it a legitimate injury? We’ll see.