The Jaguars were once again one of the worst teams in the NFL last season as they finished in last place in the AFC South with a 3-13 record. Their young defense was able to make some strides, but their offense has looked horrendous. They open up the season Sunday in Houston against the Texans, and it looks like it will be more of the same this year for the Jags.
The Jaguars made two key additions to their secondary via free agency. These additions will lead them to having a top 10 secondary group this year. I am not the only one to believe so as Pro Football Focus has ranked the Jaguars secondary as the 6th best in all of football coming into the year. Those two key additions that they made were signing CB A.J. Bouye and S Barry Church. Barry Church had a career year last season with the Cowboys. He finished as the #11 S, while forcing 4 turnovers and recording 70 tackles. The loss of Jonathan Cyprien will hurt and Church is not the player Cyprien is, but he should help ease the pain. He also brings some veteran leadership to a young secondary. A.J. Bouye was the Jaguars biggest signing. He was ranked as the #2 CB in all of football last season. At only 25 years old he has established himself as one of the best lockdown cornerbacks in the league. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey will form one of the best, young CB duos in all of football. They drafted CB Ramsey last year and he did not disappoint. He finished as the #23 overall CB as a rookie and he looks like he will continue to grow this year. He has the chance to finish as a top 15 cornerback in the league this year if he builds off his strong rookie season.
Interior Defensive Line
The Jaguars may have one of the best interior defensive lines in all of football. However, their edge rush will hold them back from being considered a top 12 line as a whole. I do expect Dante Fowler to step up this year, so maybe next year we can reconsider that. Back to this monster interior. They already had Abry Jones and Malik Jackson on their roster last season. This off-season they added Calais Campbell to their line to really bolster it. I think one of the three may be moved to the edge to help with the pass rush and due to the fact that it is going to be really hard to sit one of these beasts. Calais Campbell finished as the #2 DT in all of football last year, which helped him receive a 4-year/$60M contract this off-season from the Jags. Campbell will be the likeliest of the three to play edge and he has a chance to record double digit sacks this year. Abry Jones finished as the #23 DT, while Malik Jackson finished as the #15 DT. These three will wreak havoc on opponent’s run games. Now the question for the Jags will be, can they get to the quarterback?
The Jaguars have a very good trio of linebackers in Paul Posluszny, Telvin Smith and Myles Jack . Jack did not have that much of an impact last season, but he is extremely talented. Expect him to take a huge leap this year and establish himself as one of the most talented, young linebackers in the league. Telvin Smith is not a household name, but he should become on. He was one of the more underrated linebackers in the league last year. He finished as the #18 linebacker according the Pro Football Focus. He finished the year with 118 combined sacks (tied for 16th in the league) to go along with 2 interceptions, 1 sack and 8 pass defends. Speaking of underrated, Paul Posluszny is the MOST underrated defensive player in all of football. Posluszny was the #4 linebacker in all of football last season, he was top 10 in combined tackles and yet no one brings up his name when speaking about the best in the league. This group was very good last year, but I think they will be even better this year. They are the heart and soul of the Jaguars’ defense.
Instead of this weakness being titled “Quarterback”, I could really just have it as “Blake Bortles “. After a promising sophomore campaign, where Bortles threw for over 4,400 yards and had 35 touchdowns, he really took a step back last year. This should concern a lot of people as he did not look good in this year’s preseason either. Last season, Bortles failed to throw for at least 4,000 yards, while only throwing 23 touchdowns passes. To go along with that he threw 16 interceptions. Those are not numbers that you want to see out of your young starting QB. On top of all those numbers, Bortles was ranked as the #27 QB by Pro Football Focus. If any team wants to have success it usually starts with the quarterback. Therefore, is the Jaguars expect to improve from last year, it is going to start with Bortles.
Originally, Pro Football Focus ranked the Jaguars offensive line at number 13 coming into the 2017 season. However, that was when they slated Branden Albert to be starting at LT. Only one player on the starting offensive line for the Jaguars finished inside the top 25 at their respective positions. That player was C Brandon Linder who finished as the #5 C in football. After Linder it is all down hill. Jermey Parnell will be their starting RT who finished as the #29 T last season. A.J. Cann is slated to start at RG and he finished as the #47 G in football. Patrick Omameh will be starting at the other guard position, where it gets slightly better, but not much. Omameh finished as the #31 G in football last season. At left tackle, the Jaguars will be forced to start rookie Cam Robinson. According to Pro Football Focus, Robinson was ranked as the 90th overall tackle in the FBS in 2016. This line is not looking very good for the Jaguars.
I do not see the Jaguars improving too much. Their defense looks like it can be very good if they can find a way to rush the quarterback. However, the positives really end there. I would say Leonard Fournette can be a bright spot for the Jags, but he may not find any holes to hit with that horrid offensive line. Blake Bortles may improve, but he did not show any signs of improvement in the preseason.
I am predicting that the Jaguars will go 3-13 and finish in last place in the AFC South once again.