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2016 NFL Season Preview- Jacksonville Jaguars
Despite only winning five games, Jacksonville showed they have a plan in place to get them in the postseason.
The Jaguars had at least six gams where they were in it in the fourth quarter but couldn't pull out a victory.
The offense was great and has even more room to grow. Quarterback Blake Bortles showed great improvement from his rookie season setting franchise records with over 4,400 yards passing and 35 touchdowns, but he must cut down on his league high 18 interceptions. A part from the starter, the running back position lacks depth as Denard Robinson, Toby Gerhart, and Jonas Gray didn't show much value. The wide receivers were the biggest surprise. Allen Robinson and Allen Huns each had 1,000+ yards receiving and 10+ touchdowns seasons and Marqise Lee showed he could be a valuable slot receiver. Tight end Julius Thomas connected with Bortles nicely despite missing the first four games with a hand injury and Mercedes Lewis is still one of the top blocking tight ends in the league. The offensive line was a disappointment as left tackle Luke Joeckel was too inconsistent and center Stefen Wisniewski's bad snaps cost Jacksonville games late in the year.
The defense on the other hand was awful as elite offenses were able to push them around. The defensive line dealt with injuries and poor play. Jared Odrick wasn't consistent Chris Clemons and Andre Branch were hugely underwhelming. The starting linebackers are great but their backups proved they couldn't rise to the occasion when the starters were injured. The secondary had it's moments, but was exposed a majority of the time due to a lack of pass rush.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson was the only pro bowler as he showed he could blossom into one of the league's elite receivers in the future.
The Jaguars have to expect a lot from their rookie class in the future. Defensive end Dante Fowler spent the entire year on injured reserve, but should have a big role in 2016. Running back T.J. Yeldon was on his way to an 1,000 yard rushing season before spraining his MCL and missing the final three games. Guard A.J. Cann had a nice season and could move to left guard. Wide receiver Rashad Greene should value late in the slot and as a pint returner. Defensive tackle Michael Bennett is a work in progress, but showed he can be effective as a rotational payer.
Jaguars 2015 Rankings
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 10th
NFL Rank- 27th
NFL Rank- 29th
NFL Rank- 15th
NFL Rank- 18th
NFL Rank- 24th
With a 2015 record of 5-11, head coach Gus Bradley has to make some serious strides in his fourth season to improve on his career 12-36 record. Team owner Shad Khad made it clear that if there isn't improvement in Jacksonville, Bradley will be on his way out of town.
After the defense finished second to last in points allowed, Bradley fired defensive coordinator Bob Babich and replaced him with the team's defensive line coach Todd Wash.
Notable Additions- RB Chris Ivory, G Mackenzy Bernadeau, DL Malik Jackson, DE Björn Werner, CB Prince Amukamara, FS Tashaun Gibson
Notable Departures- RB Toby Gerhardt, G Zane Beadles, C Stefen Wisniewski, DE Chris Clemons, DE Andre Branch
Blake Bortles Highlights
2016 NFL Draft
Going into the draft, Jacksonville held the fifth overall pick with positions that needed to be addressed. Most notably at defensive end, linebacker, and cornerback.
Dante Fowler may be the team's answer to their pass rushing problem, but he's coming off a torn ACL and might be a year away from reaching his true potential.
Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny will be entering his 10th season and there is no depth behind the three starters. Telvin Smith is a solid tackler, but he needs to add serious bulk.
Devon House was the team's best cornerback but Aaron Colvin is better suited in the nickel spot. The need a good shutdown corner opposite House.
On draft day, the Jaguars ended up selecting Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey with the fifth overall pick. Ramsey was viewed as the top defensive back prospect in the draft because of his excellent man coverage skills but experts were concerned that he's too slow to play corner and not physical enough to play safety.
Jacksonville also drafted notable players like UCLA outside linebacker Myles Jack in the second round, Notre Dame defensive tackle Sheldon Day in the fourth, and Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen in the sixth. Jack was viewed as the top outside linebacker prospect because of his great tackling skills but fell to the second round because of a knee injury that didn't heal properly. Day has a relentless motor and is often the first guy off the snap, but he has a lengthy injury history. Allen has great accuracy and athleticism but lacks the ideal size and hands.
On May 18th, Ramsey suffered a small meniscus tear during rookie OTA's but should be ready at the start of training camp.
Jalen Ramsey Highlights
What to Expect
This might be the year Jacksonville brings it all together.
Blake Bortles finished second in the league in touchdown passes last year and if T.J. Yeldon can stay healthy, it can really cut down on his interception total. The wide receiver corps should continue to grow as unit with four guys being able to hurt a defense on any given Sunday. The main dilemma they will have to solve is finding a lineup on the offensive line that can consistently hold their ground.
The defense should show a drastic improvement over last year. Dante Fowler and Sen'Derrick Marks will both be healthy which will help improve the pass rush and run defense. Drafting Myles Jack to the linebackers gives them a guy who is athletic enough to play any spot once his knee is at 100%. The secondary is now stronger than ever with the edition of Tashaun Gibson and Jalen Ramsey.
In all, the AFC South title isn't out of reach for the Jaguars but I still see them as more of a wild card team this season.
Best record they can hope for: 9-7