NFL Preview- Jacksonville Jaguars
Closing out the AFC South in our NFL Preview, we take a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars. This is a franchise that hasn’t had a lot of success in their history. Sure they have reached the AFC Championship Game twice, but the last time was 15 years ago. Second-year head coach Gus Bradley continues to overhaul the defense and is looking to groom Blake Bortles to be the quarterback of the future for the team.
Let’s start with QB. The plan is to sit Bortles for his entire rookie season to give more time to adjust to the speed of the NFL game, while starting Chad Henne. Henne can be a serviceable starter but has never been able to find any long-term success during his career. While the coaching staff is set on sitting Bortles, his preseason performance could make that decision harder to stick to.
At wide receiver, Cecil Shorts III returns as the top target with Mike Brown looking like the number two choice. Marqise Lee was drafted out of USC to help spread the field with his downfield speed. First-round bust Justin Blackmon is gone, serving a one-year suspension for failing another drug test.
At running back, Maurice Jones-Drew has departed to Oakland. Toby Gerhart was signed from Minnesota to become the man in the backfield. While he never carried the ball much in Minnesota playing behind Adrian Peterson, Gerhart showed his ability to be the top back in the few games he did replace an injured Peterson.
Red Bryant and Chris Clemons were brought in from the Super Bowl Champion Seattle in free agency to shore up the defensive line and pass rush for the Jaguars. It is also helpful that they played in this system when Coach Bradley was the defensive coordinator in Seattle. Paul Pozluzny returns as the leader of the defense. The question becomes who can they rely on in defensive backfield? There is no Legion of Boom in Jacksonville.
Here is how the 2014 season looks for the Jags:
Week 1- They open in Philly. Not a good prospect at all. Jacksonville begins 0-1.
Week 2- The Jaguars next head to Washington, and the risk-taking Robert Griffin III. Jags begin 0-2.
Week 3- In their first home game, they get the Indianapollis Colts. Andrew Luck has a big day in this one. They remain winless at 0-3.
Week 4- Jacksonville heads west to San Diego to face Phillip Rivers and company. They play better, but still lose. They now stand at 0-4.
Week 5- Jaguars come close to pulling the upset over Pittsburgh but Roethlisberger finds a way to get it done. Jags are now 0-5.
Week 6- They head to Tennessee next and get a surprise upset over the Titans. Winless no more at 1-5.
Week 7- Next come the Browns to visit. They get a little better and find a way to force Johnny Manziel into rookie mistakes. Jacksonville improves to 2-5.
Week 8- They host Miami in a battle of Florida teams. Henne finds a way to thank the Dolphins for his years there with a Jags win. They get a three-game winning streak to get to 3-5.
Week 9- They head to Cincinnati and receive a beat down at the hands of the Bengals. They drop to 3-6.
Week 10- They host the Cowboys in London, but the change of scenery doesn’t do them any favors. Cowboys win and Jags are now 3-7.
Week 11- Finally they get a week off.
Week 12- They to Indy to keep their losing streaks going. Jacksonville now 3-8.
Week 13- They host the Giants next and find a way to win. They improve to 4-8.
Week 14- They finally meet the Houston Texans, greet the visitors by handing them a victory. Jags drop to 4-9.
Week 15- Jaguars head to Baltimore to give Joe Flacco an easy game. They fall to 4-10.
Week 16- They host Titans and give them the earlier win back. Jaguars are now 4-11.
Week 17- Jacksonville heads to Houston to get swept by the Texans. They finish up 4-12.
The Jacksonville Jaguars don’t have much going for them yet. They might be a year away from showing signs of contending. 2014 will be another long year for the Jags, but Bortles is right around the corner and can change the franchise’s fortune soon.