2014 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS FOOTBALL PREVIEW
July 20, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
2014 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS FOOTBALL PREVIEW
COACH: GUS BRADLEY, 4-12 WITH JAGUARS
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: JEDD FISCH
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: BOB BABICH
OFFENSE SCORING: 15.4
TOTAL OFFENSE: 293.8
DEFENSIVE SCORING: 28.1
TOTAL DEFENSE: 379.4
TURNOVER MARGIN: -6
Jacksonville has been on a steady decline for several years now and it’s likely they will be treading water again this season until the Jaguars can learn to compete against the NFL’s best teams again. So be patient Jacksonville fans, better days are coming.
The first phase for the Jaguars was getting a new QB and they did through the draft by selecting Central Florida’s Blake Bortles. Some felt Jacksonville should have taken WR Sammy Watkins or Khalil Mack instead of Bortles and look for a QB in next year’s draft. But the Jaguars didn’t wait because they feel he is ready to play right now. Chad Henne is the starter, for now. Henne is respected but isn’t a winner as a starter (18-32) and his TD to INT ratio isn’t good at all (55 TD’s and 62 INT’s). Jacksonville was ranked last in points scored and 31st in total yards with Henne under center for most of the season. Those numbers tell us Jacksonville needed an overhaul on offense.
RB Maurice Jones-Drew was allowed to leave via free-agency to Oakland. The Jaguars signed RB Toby Gerhart, who was a back-up to Adrian Peterson in Minnesota. Gerhart averaged 4.7 yards per carry in four seasons for the Vikings. Gerhart should be fresh and does a great job getting yards after contact and is a good receiver out of the backfield. Jordan Todman will be the back-up to Gerhart.
Bortles will have some weapons at WR including USC’s Marqise Lee who was available at #39. Jacksonville also moved up to take Penn State’s Allen Robinson. Both will bring a new dynamic to the passing attack including a new toughness and the ability to get into the end zone. TE Marcedes Lewis will have more room to work over the middle with Lee and Robinson in the line-up. Lewis is coming back from an injury that kept him out of the line-up for a significant amount of time. Also returning is Cecil Shorts who had 66 receptions for 777 yards and 3 TD’s, Ace Sanders (51 rec. 484 yds and 1 TD) and Justin Blackmon (29 rec. 415 yds 14.3 ypc).
The offensive line will look different after performance an injury issues. Jacksonville signed former Denver guard Zane Beadles to a 5-year contract worth $30 million. Beadles will provide leadership to a young O-line. Luke Joeckel is back from a broken leg and will move from RT to LT. Brandon Linder (USC) was drafted in the third round and will move in as the RG. Mike Brewster is the favorite to start at center and former G Austin Pasztor is likely to start at RT. If all works and this group stays healthy, they may stop the streak of 50 sacks allowed.
Jacksonville has a lot of work to do on defense as well after giving up 28.1 ppg. Jacksonville ranked 29th against the run, 25th against the pass and 27th in total defense. They also ranked 31st in total sacks.
The Jags signed former Seattle DE’s Red Bryant and Chris Clemons and former Steelers DT Ziggy Hood to help solidify things up front. The idea is to use bigger bodies on first and second down, get the offense into an obvious passing down, then use speedy pass-rushers on third down. Arkansas DE Chris Smith will be joined by Jason Babin and Andre Branch to provide depth in the pass rushing department.
Dekota Watson was signed from Tampa Bay to provide a new dimension for the Jags defense…the ability to cover the TE. Watson will also provide another pass-rushing threat. Watson will join tackling machine Paul Posluszny and Geno Hayes. Hayes is hoping to come back strong from a knee injury.
If the pass rush improves, that means the secondary should be better especially after counting on so many rookies last season. Dwayne Gratz can be a game changer if he can stay healthy. He will be joined by Veteran Alan Ball at CB. Starting at SS will be Johnathan Cyprien with former Seattle DB Winston Guy and Josh Evans competing for the starting job at FS.
Jacksonville looked more like a minor-league team in 2013. They had the least talented team in the league. Will the Jags allow Blake Bortles to sit for a year and learn or will they get him in the line-up ASAP? Word is they will sit him and allow him to learn and that means a sacrificial season for Jacksonville fans. The O-line and the weapons will be better but they must stay healthy and someone must get the ball to Lee and Robinson. Jacksonville should be more competitive on defense because they went out and got some help. The schedule won’t be easy no matter what with road games at Philadelphia, Washington, San Diego, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Baltimore.