NFL PREVIEW: JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
July 9, 2012Eastern Indiana Sports
By KELCI BAKER, EIHSS SPORTS
Last year: 5-11, 3rd in AFC South, missed playoffs
The Jaguars will have an entirely different look coming into the 2012 season with not only a new owner but a new coach and new uniforms as well. It doesn't seem like the Jaguars could fall any more than they already have. After the last season Jack Del Rio lost his job and the team was sold by Wayne Weaver to Shad Kahn. They finished last in the NFL in passing with 2.179 yards as well as total offense at 259.3 a game. The defense did improve though from No. 26 in 2010 to No. 6 in 2011. If they can maintain the defensive and improve offensively, the Jaguars could be a hopeful to win the AFC South. But that is a BIG if. There should also be a more balanced attack on the offense this upcoming season. Their NFL ranking for the passing game at 32nd needs to get much closer to the ranking for their rushing game which was 12th.
Bob Bratkowski leads the offense with a pro-set style. They'll feature more of the running game with Maurice Jones-Drew , the NFL's leading rusher last season. The offensive line was unable to stay healthy last year but if they can manage that this year, Jones-Drew might become even more of a threat. He'll also have Rashad Jennings who missed last season due to a knee injury. What's unsure is how effective the passing game will be compared to last season. With the acquisition of two wide receivers, Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans, and the selection of another in the draft, Justin Blackmon in the first round, it all looks positive but that might all change once the season gets underway. With talented receivers behind him, the next question is whether quarterback Blaine Gabbert will be able to deliver.
Even though it seemed they were set on the defensive side of the football, the Jaguars still choose four defensive players out of their six picks in the draft. The pickup of veteran cornerback Aaron Ross and re-signings of defensive end Jeremy Mincey and veteran cornerback Rashean Mathis seem set. Three starting linebackers will be returning and Russell Allen will be there and ready as a replacement. Tyson Alualu had offseason knee surgery so it's uncertain if ready he'll be to play this upcoming season. Tackle Terrance Knighton suffered a serious eye injury after a nightclub altercation this offseason. This could cause him to be sidelined until training camp. Last year, Knighton was reported to be 30 pounds overweight and now his time sitting out might make that worse. Andre Branch, a second-round pick at defensive in, is likely to start.
Special teams’ coordinator John Bonamego had to deal with issues surrounding veteran kicker Josh Scobee who couldn't reach an agreement on his new contract. The Jaguars decided to use their franchise tag on him. Fans weren't pleased when they picked a punter, Bryan Anger in the third round at No. 70 overall because they believe there were other more important spots that needed filling.
With a new coach came a new assistant at almost every position for Jacksonville with a few exceptions including Mike Mularkey. Also included is Tucker who served as interim coach in the last five games of last season. After words, he openly campaigned to make that job permanent. Gabbert figures to greatly improve upon his rookie season by receiving the passing game knowledge of Bratkowski and quarterbacks coach Greg Olson.
2012 Draft Recap
WR Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State was the Jaguars best of six picks in the draft. He brings a dimension to the passing game that was highly needed.
WR Justin Blackmon. Oklahoma State.
First round. 5th pick overall.
DE Andre Branch. Clemson.
Second round. 38th pick overall.
He led the Atlantic Coast Conference with 10.5 sacks last season. He'll fill the teams need on defense because he's so physical as a pass-rushing end.
P Bryan Anger. California.
Third round. 70th pick overall.
Anger averaged 44.2 yards a punt last season. He was also the best in the East-West Shrine game where he averaged 60 yards on three punts.
LB Brandon Marhsall. Nevada.
Fifth round. 142nd pick overall.
He'll serve as a strong, physical backup linebacker
CB Mike Harris. Florida State.
Sixth round. 176th pick overall.
A solid tackler who excelled on punt and kick-cover teams
DT Jeris Pendleton. Ashland (Ohio) University.
Seventh round. 228th pick overall.
He played two seasons at a junior college before finishing two more years at Ashland. Pendleton is 28.
The Jaguars will look to improve on a third-place finish in the AFC South heading into the 2012 season.
Led by second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville faces a division that will have a completely different complexion now that Peyton Manning is out of the picture. The Colts, who have been perennial favorites in the South for over a decade, will likely be led by Andrew Luck and will try to reassert themselves after a terrible 2011 campaign.
But Jacksonville must take this opportunity to establish itself as a contender in a very competitive division that also features Houston and Tennessee.
The 2012 schedule holds a fair amount of challenges for the Jaguars—they'll face the AFC East, but fortunately, they get the tougher games at home and the softer ones on the road. The biggest challenge on the docket looks to be a road matchup at Green Bay.
Here's a look at all that the Jaguars' 2012 schedule has to offer.