2015 NFL Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars

2015 NFL Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars last posted a winning season in 2007, back when David Garrard (remember him?) was under center, and Fred Taylor (surely you remember him) was delivering the seventh 1000-yard season of his illustrious career. To be perfectly blunt, the Jags have been downright awful ever since. How awful? Well, they’ve won 9 games in the last three years. Nine. To put that in perspective, the poster team for ineptitude, the Oakland Raiders, have 11 victories during the same time span. That’s right, da Raiders. In other words, Jacksonville has been the least competitive franchise in the NFL for nearly a decade. They’ve gone through head coaches, general managers, and even new ownership. Thus far, none of it has made a difference in the win column. Maybe 2015 will yield positive results? Maybe not. Here’s a preview of the 2015 Jacksonville Jaguars.

Outlook: Gus Bradley enters year 3 of his regime with tempered expectations. The jury is still out on second-year signal-caller Blake Bortles, who was less than stellar as a rookie, tossing 11 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 13 starts. The backfield remains unsettled, but a trio of sophomore wide receivers is loaded with potential. Bradley’s defense is comprised largely of free agents from other teams, which is a direct reflection of years of poor drafting. That said, safety Jonathan Cyprien and cornerback Dwayne Gratz are both legit homegrown talents; they just need to force more turnovers. With the offense still a work in progress, the defense will have to carry the weight, which is probably asking too much.

Later, dude: Cecil Shorts had a penchant for two or three quality games a season, but injuries and frequent disappearing acts made him expendable. Linebacker J.T. Thomas flashed in 2014, especially in coverage, but the Giants’ 3-year, $12 million offer was too rich for management’s blood. Journeyman cornerback Alan Ball was a decent starter, but there are younger options with higher upside on the roster. Jordan Todman is a top-notch return man and decent third-down back who got lost in the shuffle of a running back numbers game; he’s now a Carolina Panther. First-round pass rusher Dante Fowler, Jr. was supposed to energize the defense as a rookie. Sadly, he shredded his knee in his first practice as a pro. That’s so Jacksonville.

Welcome aboard: Tight end Julius Thomas is a huge free agent addition for a team that struggles to land blue chip talent. Of course, he’s going from Peyton Manning to Bortles, so how much of an impact he will actually make remains to be seen. Offensive tackle Jermey Parnell didn’t get much playing time in six seasons with Dallas, but the plan here is for him to start. That might end badly. Linebacker Dan Skuta looks like a one-year wonder, but the front office saw fit to hand him a 5-year, $20.5 million deal. Ex-Packer Davon House brings depth to an improving secondary. Safety Sergio Brown is expected to start even though he has only 11 starts in five seasons. Rookie runner T.J. Yeldon has a shot to be the featured back if he quickly adjusts to the speed of NFL defenses.

Over/Under wins – 5.5: One of these years the Jags have to be kinda sorta okay, right? The schedule suggests an 0-4 start is realistic. A lot will have to go right to hit six wins.

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