The Jacksonville Jaguars have faced years of mediocrity and back to back losing seasons. The last time the Jaguars had a winning season was 2007. Since then, the Jaguars have not won over eight games. Head coach Gus Bradley has slowly built a very talented and young roster. In a poor division, the Jaguars finally have enough offensive firepower to possibly squeeze into the playoffs in 2017.
Even though quarterback Blake Bortles struggled last season, the Jaguars’ offense showed a glimpse of what is to come. Bortles has an arsenal of talented receivers like Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, and Allen Robinson. Robinson and Hurns both caught over 1,000 yards last season.
Bortles threw for 4,428 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions in 2015. He was tied for the second most touchdown passes in the NFL alongside Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, and Cam Newton. That is some impressive company for Bortles to be around.
Bortles was seventh in the NFL in passing yards ahead of superstars like Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Russell Wilson. Bortles is by no means better than any of those quarterbacks, but he definitely has shown that he has the caliber to eventually play on their level.
Now that Bortles has a couple of years in the NFL under his belt the sky’s the limit for the Jaguars offense. Many analysts have criticized some of Bortles decision making skills and interceptions. As long as he manages to lower his interception total, he could be a top 10 quarterback in the league in 2016.
Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk reported that Bradley had nothing but high praises for his quarterback.
“He plays with no fear, so we don’t want to bring that into his game. I think it’s just going to come with another year into our system, the receivers getting a better idea for how he operates and then they just continue to grow in our system.”
This past offseason, the Jaguars signed running back Chris Ivory, defensive tackle Malik Jackson, safety Tashaun Gipson, and Prince Amukamara. Chris Ivory had a breakout season with the New York Jets in 2015 and should make a great addition to the Jaguars’ offense. Ivory ran for 1,070 yards and scored seven touchdowns.
Ivory is a brutal running back and brings a nasty element to the Jaguars’ backfield. He should easily become the featured back. T.J. Yeldon’s running style will be a nice compliment to Ivory’s. Yeldon ran for 740 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Having a more balanced offense is the key to the Jaguars’ success. It will take the pressure off of Bortles and reduce his interception count. Bortles can now rely on a consistent running game instead of forcing passes to make conversions.
Despite the fact that Bradley was a former defensive coordinator, his the Jaguars’ defense is struggling mightily. The unit has consistently been ranking in the bottom half of the NFL for years. That may change very quickly due to the fact that the Jaguars made some important acquisitions this free agency period.
Gibson and Amukamara should help bolster a very weak Jaguars’ secondary. The Jaguars have been involved in shootouts all season long due to their poor defense and high octane offense. These signings will solidify the Jaguars’ secondary so they are able to add to their lead instead of playing catch up.
Another issue is the Jaguars’ pass rush. The Jaguars give opposing quarterbacks too much time in the pocket. Their defensive front has significantly improved this offseason after the signing of Jackson. Dante Flower is also returning from injury as well. The presence of those two players can really help the Jaguars create some sort of decent pressure.
Even though the AFC South is on the rise, it is still a poor division. The Houston Texans look like they are the frontrunners to win the division after singing Brock Osweiler. The Texans are hoping that Osweiler can be their franchise quarterback. If he can step up and make the Texans’ become more consistent they will be the frontrunners to win the division.
The Indianapolis Colts are in a little bit of trouble. Andrew Luck is by far a future top five quarterback, but he needs to stay healthy in order for the team to succeed. They filled some holes in the free agency and may be able to get back on track.
The Tennessee Titans are a team on the rise. DeMarco Murray and Marcus Mariota should be a great offensive combination. Murray can thrive as the featured back in a growing Titan’s offense. However, their defense is a shambles and they are still a couple of pieces away from becoming a serious threat in the NFL.
The Jaguars can easily be a Wild Card team in the AFC and maybe even win the division outright. If Osweiler doesn’t become the quarterback the Texans want him to be the Jaguars could take advantage and win the AFC South outright for the first time in nine years.
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