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Today: The Jacksonville Jaguars
Last Year: 4-12 (3rd place in AFC South)
I’m not sure there’s been a team in the past 10 years that has made losing look as easy as the Jacksonville Jaguars have made it seem. The franchise hasn’t had a winning season since 2007. In the six seasons since, the team has gone 31-65. In 2011, the Jags possessed the 10th overall pick of the NFL draft. They took quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Blaine Gabbert is no longer with the team.
In 2012, the Jags owned the fifth overall pick. They took Justin Blackmon.
There’s a chance that Blackmon might not play a down of football this season.
This year, with the third overall pick, the team took Blake Bortles, because the Blaine Gabbert thing didn’t really work out all too well. The plan is to have Blake Bortles sit on the bench all season, because apparently the team wants another chance to select a bust in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Yet somehow, the Jaguars are being talked about like this sleeper team that might surprise a few folks this season. You see, now that the Jags have a coach who used to coach for the defending Super Bowl champions (before they won the SB, however), they’re ready to make the leap from a four-win team, to a playoff team. Now that the team is starting Chad Henne for all 16 games at quarterback instead of having Blaine Gabbert fuck up the first few games, the postseason is a tangible target. Now that the team’s starting running back is Toby Gerhart, and not Maurice Jones-Drew, it could shock the world. Logic.
In all seriousness, the Jaguars’ defense did improve in the offseason. They signed Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, and Ziggy Hood. But, it’s not like those three players are bolstering an already great defense. The Jags surrendered at least 20 points in all but two games last season. But, hey, at least they have Gus Bradley. Did you know he used to coach for the Seahawks?
2013, Bradley’s first year as head coach, wasn’t really an improvement for the Jags, unless you count wins against Houston (2x), Tennessee, and Cleveland as progress. Here are their quick team stats:
- Passing yards: 22nd in the league
- Rushing yards: 31st in the league
- Defending the pass: 26th in the league
- Defending the run: 29th in the league
Don’t worry, though. They got poolside cabanas at their stadium now, ensuring fans will be completely relaxed for all eight home losses this year.
The Jaguars are a joke.
Last Year’s Stud: Paul Posluszny
I like this guy. He’s dependable, has a cool last name, and unlike the rest of his team, doesn’t suck. 162 total tackles, three sacks, and two picks. Nice job, Posluszny.
Runner-up: Josh Scobee?
Last Year’s Surprise: Johnathan Cyprien
Cyprien, a rookie safety, finished second on the team in tackles. That’s never a good sign for a defense.
Runner-up: N/A (this was a boring team, in case you didn’t already know).
Last Year’s Disappointment: Blaine Gabbert
Gabbert had a chance to prove the doubters wrong and show some improvement. He didn’t. Now, he’s gone.
Runner-up: Maurice Jones-Drew
I like Blake Bortles, but there’s a very real chance he never develops into a decent NFL quarterback. The Jaguars could’ve drafted these players:
- Sammy Watkins
- Khalil Mack
- Mike Evans
- Justin Gilbert
Instead they took a very raw passer who will sit on the bench this season. Again, I like Blake Bortles. But, there’s a very good chance the Jags are regretting this pick in a few years.
Other notable pick: Marqise Lee (Love this pick)
This Year’s Stud: Marqise Lee
After a monster sophomore season, Lee was regarded as a consensus first-round pick. The Jags were incredibly lucky to snag him in the second round, following his disappointing junior season. In his three-year career at USC, Lee caught 248 passes for 3,655 yards and 29 touchdowns.
This Year’s Surprise: Chad Henne
For some reason, I like this guy. I don’t know why. It’s not because he went to Michigan, I don’t like Michigan. I don’t know. Except, I know I like him. So, I’m going with my gut here. That’s a thing, right?
Runner-up: Marqise Lee
This Year’s Disappointment: Toby Gerhart
Toby Gerhart is the kind of running back I would love to have as my backup. He’s not the kind of running back I would feel comfortable with as my starter.
Runner-up: The poolside cabanas (nothing is ever as good as it seems)
Draft early: NO ONE
Good value in the middle rounds: Marqise Lee
Don’t draft: EVERYONE ELSE
What Vegas Is Saying (LVH Sports Book): 4.5 wins
What We’re Saying: 5-11 (last-place in AFC South)
My season prediction in bullet-point form:
- The Jaguars lose their first six games of the season.
- Chad Henne actually plays pretty well in those six games.
- Debate begins regarding Blake Bortles and if he should play this season.
- Suddenly, Henne and the Jags beat the Browns in their seventh game of the season.
- The Jags are unsure whether they should put in Bortles and sacrifice the season, or go for 10 straight wins and the postseason.
- A fluky win over Miami the next week means the Jags are going for it.
- The team loses its next two games, and enters the bye week at 2-8.
- Chad Henne is benched during the bye week 🙁
- Blake Bortles looks awful in his first three games, and the Jags lose all three.
- Bortles leads the team to wins over the Ravens, the Titans, and the Texans to close out the season.
- Jaguars are declared a sleeper team for 2015.
[genericon icon=twitter] Follow Sean Wagner-McGough on Twitter @seanjwagner