Jacksonville Jaguars: 6 Reasons it’s going to be okay


9. This is the number of wins the Jacksonville Jaguars have had since Jack Del Rio was fired in 2011. It’s for this reason fans of London’s team (at least at the moment), might feel a little hard done by. 2007’s playoff win against the Steelers seems like a lifetime ago, with a team that has seemingly underachieved for the last 7 years. This year the mood amongst Jags fans took an unexpected blow early on, with no.3 overall pick Dante Fowler Jr suffering a season ending injury on his very first day of practice, a hit for the fans but more importantly the poor guy that’s set to miss his 1st season in the NFL (get well soon Dante). Jags fans are understandably wondering when their luck is going to change, with another season that they believe could see them having a top 5 pick again next year. So I’m here to tell you it’s not all doom and gloom in Jacksonville. This is a revolution, albeit a slow moving one. I have faith in this team Jags fans and whilst a Super bowl is probably a bit of a stretch I believe that this is a team that can progress, even if it’s just by a small amount and damn it I think they’ll look good doing it. So here Jags fans are my 6 reasons to be cheerful.

1. The Other Draftees

Dante Fowler was a dynamic big edge rusher, that could potentially have played all along the line, but he wasn’t the only draft pick up. The Jags surprised a few people with their 2nd round pick T. J Yeldon, but he seems to be a player they have a lot of faith in. Yeldon might not be a feature back but he will be part of a committee featuring Denard Robinson, Storm Johnson and Bernard Pierce. Whilst I will be surprised if all these players make the final roster, this could work, with Gerhart taking on more of a full back role. From the 3rd round AJ Cann adds some much needed depth to the interior of the offense line, in a division where they’ll be facing the Texans who now have both JJ Watt and Vince Wilfork. In Dante Fowler the Jaguars wanted someone as versatile as the Seahawks Michael Bennett. This year they’ll have to make do with their 6th rd. steal, erm…Michael Bennett (different guy). All in all this was a solid draft for the Jags where they improved their depth in some slightly thinner areas.

2. Improvements on the Offensive Line

Let’s be honest. They can’t be any worse. Last year the Jags allowed over 120 sacks (worst in the league) and rushed for just 2900 yards. This year they’ve brought in Jermey Parnell to play right tackle and Stephen Wisniewski at center, who is on a short leash with a 1 year contract. Zane Beadle was a decent addition last year at guard and AJ Cann (as previously mentioned), could put last year’s rookie addition Brandon Linder out of a job, if he’s as ready as they think he is. The weak link looks like it will be left tackle Luke Joeckel who has struggled to settle in the NFL, but he this off-season has gained a considerable amount of weight in an attempt to make him harder to get round. The biggest change however will be in coaching, which will see ex-Bills head coach, Doug Marrone take over as the offensive line coach. Whilst it’s contentious whether he was a positive influence as a Head Coach for the Bills (did anyone see the interest in him as head coach), he has had a proven track record as an o-line coach. The Jags offensive line could be set for a serious improvement.

3. It’s Still a Pretty Good Defensive Line

So they’ll miss their star pass rusher (once again get well soon Dante), but there is still some talent on the line. Jared Odrick was a casualty in Miami of the Suh pickup. Miami’s loss was the Jags gain adding some beef to the centre of the line. Sen’Derrick Marks looks to make a big splash this year having had a decent season last year. That leaves the new defensive tackle Michael Bennett to make a decent trio in the centre. At defensive end however they are lacking, with Clemons being no. 1 on the depth chart. Pass rush will be tough for this team but a decent run defense might be enough to make up for any issues.

4. A Sneaky Good Pass Game

Is it actually that sneaky? We’ve already looked at how often Bortles hit the ground last year with the problems on the offensive line, which can’t have been fun for him. In-between getting sacked an awful lot, Bortles managed to throw 17 interceptions to just 11 touchdowns a record that he will no doubt want to forget. However despite his less than brilliant interception to touchdown ratio, there was the odd flash of brilliance that Jags fans can get excited about. Tie this in with a group of receivers that grew immensely last year as well as the addition of a big target in Julius Thomas and the improvements on the offensive line, the Jags could be in for the best offensive performance in a long time.

5. Gus Bradley

Of the 9 wins over the last 3 years, Gus Bradley has 7 of them. Which isn’t great. However it feels like Bradley has something of a plan. The team is getting progressively better at least in terms of roster despite key weaknesses, particularly on the offensive line. But it’s worth remembering the roster Bradley inherited. Going into the 2013 season Bradley had Blaine Gabbert and with the superstars being an aging Bradley Meester and Cecil Shorts. In top of the improved roster, Bradley should be credited as one of the league’s top motivators (if in doubt check this out) and has been the perfect coach to bring the Jags out of their “funk”. Bradley is very much on the hot seat, but I genuinely believe that he is the guy to make the Jags relevant again.

6. They Play the Titans Twice

Erm…. Nothing really to add to that.

So the Jags have suffered a major blow with the loss of Fowler, but there is a reason to be hopeful about this team. So Jags fans, don’t lose faith, it will get better.