2018 NFL Season Preview- Jacksonville Jaguars
After six consecutive, double digit loss seasons, the Jaguars look to be back.
Jacksonville went from 3-13 to 10-6 and ended their 10 year playoff drought. the team won the wild card game against the Buffalo Bills 10-3, then headed to Pittsburgh, beating the favored Steelers 45-42 to advance to the AFC Championship to face the New England Patriots, the first time that they have made the AFC Championship Game since 1999. Despite leading for much of the game, the Jaguars would allow two fourth quarter touchdowns, and ultimately losing to the Patriots 24-20.
Quarterback Blake Bortles is one of the most inconsistent passers in the league. When he was on he was really good but when he was off, the Jags either lost or had to rely on their defense. Running back Chris Ivory fell out of favor with the coaching staff and lost touches. T.J. Yeldon is a solid third down back with skills as a receiver while Corey Grant might be the fastest player on the team. Tight end Marcedes Lewis had just 24 catches but it was still 10 more than any other tight end on the roster. Wide receiver Allen Robinson tore his ACL in the opening day game and was done for the year. Six receivers in total ended the year on injured reserve. Neither Marquise Lee or Allen Hurns were able to establish themselves as the number one option. The offensive line was decent overall, but guards A.J. Cann and Patrick Omameh are very suspect and could be replaced.
One of the biggest reasons for the Jaguars success during the season was their defense. Jacksonville finished in the top of the league in multiple defensive categories, and were considered "historically good" by many experts. The Jags defense led the league in forced fumbles, completion percentage allowed, passing yards allowed per game allowed, passer rating allowed, and defensive touchdowns. They also finished second in sacks, interceptions, total takeaways, yards allowed per game, and points allowed per game. The defensive line was as solid as any unit on the team. The team traded for nose tackle Marcell Dareus midseason and he helped the run defense improve by 12 spots in the final rankings. Defensive end Dante Fowler played as a backup but is good enough to start for multiple teams. The linebacker corps have great athletes with Telvin Smith and Myles Jack and Paul Posluszny being the veteran presence. The secondary was easily the best unit on the team. Safeties Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson had solid years, combining for seven interceptions and 15 passes defended.
Kicker Josh Lambo arrived in Week 7 and missed just one field goal on the year. Punter Brad Nortman was very mediocre and finished with a sub 40 yard net average. Corey Grant is one of the league's top kick returners and is a threat to run on fake punts.
The team produced six Pro Bowlers in defensive ends Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue, defensive tackle Malik Jackson, linebacker Telvin Smith, and cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Campbell and Ngakoue combined for 26.5 sacks while Campbell was named first team All-Pro. Jackson made the successful transition to defensive tackle and registered 40 tackles, eight sacks, and four forced fumbles. Smith record 102 tackles, three interceptions, and a score. Ramsey and Bouye were both named All-Pro and combined for 35 passes defended and 10 interceptions.
The rookie class will help keep the Jags relevant for awhile. Running back Leonard Fournette lived up to expectations and helped the offense lead the league in rushing. Tackle Cam Robinson looks to be the starting left tackle for a decade and could be a Pro Bowler with improvement. Dede Westbrook was slowed by injuries early, but finished strong to show he's dependable. Linebacker Blair Brown showed enough as a backup to be Paul Psluszny's successor.
Opponent Passing YPG
Opponent Rushing YPG
After the successful turnaround season, the key for head coach Doug Marrone will be to keep the winning going. It won't be easy as Jacksonville has one of the league's toughest schedules in 2018, but the foundation for years of success has been laid with the young defense and a powerful running game.
On August 25, in the third preseason game, wide receiver Marquis Lee suffered a severe knee injury and had to undergo season ending surgery.
Notable Additions- QB Cody Kessler, WR Donte Moncrief, TE Niles Paul, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, G Andrew Norwell, CB D.J. Hayden
Notable Departures- QB Chad Henne, RB Chris Ivory, WR Allen Robinson, WR Allen Hurns, WR Arrelious Benn, TE Marcedes Lewis, TE Mychal Rivera, G Patrick Omameh, LB Paul Posluszny, CB Aaron Colvin
Jaguars 2017 Highlights
2018 NFL Draft
Holding the 29th overall pick in the draft, the Jaguars have to make changes to positions if they want to reach the Super Bowl. Especially at tight end, guard, and linebacker.
Marcedes Lewis has been one of the league's best blocking tight ends for over a decade but the team desperately needs a pass catcher and I'm not sure Niles Paul and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are the answer.
Bringing in Andrew Norwell helps, but A.J. Cann has been inconsistent throughout his career.
Blair Brown looks to be a suitable replacement for Paul Posluszny but the rest of the linebacker corps could use depth.
On draft day, Jacksonville ended up selecting Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan with the 29th overall pick. Bryan was seen as the most explosive defensive tackle in this draft, but is still very raw in terms of technique.
The Jaguars also notably drafted LSU wide receiver D.J. Clark in the second round, Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison in the third, and Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee in the sixth. Clark has an interesting combination of height and straight line speed and has experience blocking in the running game, but has too many easy drops on tape. Harrison was viewed as the top run support safety prospect this year, but struggles to maintain speed when changing direction. Lee looks to part of an NFL quarterback but struggles with pocket awareness and getting the ball out on time.
Taven Bryan Highlights
What To Expect
A lot is expected from this team, and the look to have the bodies on defense to make some deep playoff runs.
The main concern for this remains Blake Bortles. You never know what you're going to get with Bortles week to week and now he has almost a completely new receiver corps. That being said, a lot of the offensive workload will fall on Leonard Fournette and the running backs. With no more of the "Allen Brothers" and Marquise Lee out for the season, D.J. Clark will have to step up and take the starting roles with Dede Westbrook, Rashad Greene, and Keelan Cole serving as reserves. There are still questions at tight end, but they look to have enough bodies for someone to step up and become the receiving option they need. The addition of Andrew Norwell makes the offensive line better than it was last season, especially in pass protection.
I didn't agree with the Jags taking Tavon Bryan, because it didn't really fill a need, but adding him gives the defense one of the most stacked lines in the league. Blair Brown has big shoes to fill, but Myles Jack and Telvin Smith should continue to grow as great young linebacker. The secondary should remain a strength as Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are both under 25 and should continue to pester opposing receivers for the next five or six years.
The team as a whole looks to be capable of winning the AFC South once again, but due to the inconsistent quarterback play of Blake Bortles, I can't see this team as a true Super Bowl contender.
Best Record They Can Hope For: 10-6