2014 NFL Season Preview- Jacksonville Jaguars
The past few seasons have not been ideal for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ever since they drafted Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert in 2011, they've been trying to rebuild the franchise around him while still relying heavily on running back Maurice Jones-Drew. The next year they drafted the top rated wide receiver from Oklahoma State, Justin Blackmon, as a target for Gabbert. In 2012, Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel was drafted to protect the quarterback's blindside. And like the seasons before, the 2012 campaign fell apart.
The team started 0-8 by double digits in all 8 games. The team finished 4-12 while losing all games against playoff bound teams. The team ended the season ranked next to last in both rushing and total offense.
Luke Joeckel was lost for the season after five games with an ankle injury, Blaine Gabbert's injuries and poor play forced him out of the lineup after 3 games, and Justin Blackmon was suspended half way through the season for substance abuse. With no help around him, Jones-Drew finished the season with just over 800 yards rushing. And the new half black, half gold helmets probably didn't help either.
Many rookies showed promise in the 2013 season. Safety Jonathan Cyprien quickly got attention as a fierce tackler in the secondary, wide receiver Ace Sanders was used in several different ways due to Blackmon's suspension and proved to be affective wherever he was placed, and cornerback Dwayne Graz showed more and more promise as the season went along.
Jaguars 2013 rankings
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rusing Yards
215.1 yards per game
78.8 yards per game
247.6 yards per game
131.8 yards per game
293.8 yards per game
379.4 yards per game
NFL Rank- 22nd
NFL Rank- 31st
NFL Rank- 26th
NFL Rank- 29th
NFL Rank- 31st
NFL Rank- 27th
The offseason marked the preparation of the Jaguars 20th season. Head Coach Gus Bradley looks to instill the style of defense he established in Seattle.
The one problem they wanted to rid themselves of was Blaine Gabbert. There have been infinite reports from players and coaches that he wasn't a team player and was always first to put the blame on someone else rather than taking the blame himself. Because of this, Gabbert was traded to the San Francisco 49ers for two late round draft picks.
Bradley and general manager David Caldwell then began to rebuild the team through free agency and the draft to fill voids. With Justin Blackmon facing a possible suspension or ban, the team had to find more weapons on offense.
Notable additions- DE Red Bryant, DE Chris Clemons, DT Ziggy Hood, RB Toby Gerhart
Notable departures- RB Maurice Jones-Drew, RB Justin Forsett, DE Jason Babin
Ace Sanders Highlights
2014 NFL Draft
Once the season ended, it became obvious that the Jaguars were going to draft a quarterback. The only thing that needed to be decided on was which one. The Jaguars had the third overall pick in the draft and there were three quarterbacks that could have fell there. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, UCF's Blake Bortles, or Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel.
Bridgewater was seen as the top quarterback prospect going into draft, but refusing to throw at the combine and a poor pro day performance caused his draft stock to fall.
Bortles came on strong late by upsetting Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl and giving strong combine and pro day performances. Questions about his football knowledge rose late and caused other quarterbacks to pass him.
Manziel's success in college was apparent. Winning the Heisman trophy in his freshmen year and bowl victories in his only two seasons as a starter. Still issues over his maturity and adaptability to the pro game raised concern amongst teams.
In the end, Jacksonville selected Blake Bortles(and his smoking hot model girlfriend)with the third overall pick in the draft. Other notable draft picks include wide receivers Marqise Lee from USC in the second round and Allen Robinson from Penn State, and Bortles' UCF teammate, running back Storm Johnson.
Blake Bortles Highlight
What to Expect
If you're a Jacksonville Jaguars fan, you can expect to see an improvement from last season. Now when I say improvement, don't expect to see a playoff contender right away.
Don't expect Blake Bortles to be the opening day starter. The team does not want to repeat the same mistake they made with Blaine Gabbert. I have a feeling Chad Henne will be the starter for a majority of the season. It would take an injury to Henne for Bortles to see playing time in the regular season. With added runners in Gerhart and Johnson, and receivers in Lee and Robinson, there should be no reason for Bortles to come in too early to save the franchise.
On defense, Red Bryant and Chris Clemons reunite with their former defensive coordinator in head coach Gus Bradley to try to build another legion of boom in Jacksonville. The only concern I have with the defense is the strength of the linebackers. Paul Posluszny has proven to be an ideal middle linebacker, but the outside linebackers have yet to prove themselves.
I believe the upcoming season will be much better than last season, but the team is still a year away from being contenders. Not to mention the fact that the other teams in the AFC south are much more stacked and they don't have all the tools to challenges the Colts, Titans, and Texans
Best record they can hope for- 5-11