This Jaguars team that has drawn comparisons lately with the Raiders due to both having third year quarterbacks who greatly improved in their second seasons and both teams have been spending considerable amount of money on free agency to help with the rebuilding process.
Jaguars 2015 numbers
Offense rank: 18
Defense rank: 24
That quarterback of whom I speak in one Blake Bortles. He was the first QB off the board in the 2014 draft, while Derek Carr was the fifth. Bortles put up some impressive passing numbers last season, racking up 4428 passing yards with 35 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Compare that to his 11 TD’s and 17 INT’s in 14 rookies starts and it’s a shocking improvement. As much as we talk about the leap Carr made, he doesn’t approach the breakout Bortles had from year one to year two.
The biggest beneficiary of the Jaguars sudden offensive firepower was Allen Robinson, who was selected by the Jaguars a round later in the same draft as Bortles. He had an astounding 1400 yards receiving with 14 touchdowns. Former undrafted receiver Allen Hurns also went over 1000 yards (1031) which yielded him a big contract extension. Now if they can just get the running game going.
As bad as the defense was in regards to yards given up, they were much worse in points allowed. They gave up an average of 28 points per game. Only the New Orleans Saints gave up more (30). Keep in mind that finishing at 5-11 in the AFC South is no small accomplishment. That was easily the worst division in all of football. And the Jaguars could muster up just two division wins. That’s really bad.
That being said, they came into this offseason with silly money to spend. And spend they did. This is where we take you to Big Cat Country for the update on the 2016 Jaguars.
Notable free agent additions:
FS Tashaun Gipson, RB Chris Ivory, DL Malik Jackson, P Brad Nortman, OL Mackenzy Bernadeau, CB Prince Amukamara, OL Kelvin Beachum, and QB Chad Henne
Notable free agent departures:
G Zane Beadles, DE Chris Clemons (lol), P Bryan Anger, DE Andre Branch (lol again), C Stefen Wisniewski (2015), and RB Toby Gerhart (lol once more),
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack will be contributors from Day 1. Neither could be starters as Prince Amukamara and Davon House could very well be the starting cornerbacks and the Jaguars are retooling their linebacking corps, but they’ll both see significant snaps on the defensive side of the ball. Third-round pick Yannick Ngakoue will likely be the backup at LEO and see a good amount of snaps as a designated pass rusher. Fourth-round pick Sheldon Day will likely beat out Michael Bennett and be a rotational player along the interior of the defensive line. Sixth-round pick Tyrone Holmes might make the final 53-man roster, but he’s a backup for now. Same goes for Brandon Allen whose best case scenario is the No. 3 quarterback and a healthy scratch on game days. Seventh-round pass rusher Jonathan Woodard had a season-ending Achilles injury in May, but he was a jar on the shelf who would have likely been a practice squad candidate anyway.
Biggest offseason addition:
Tashaun Gipson. He’s been described by coaches and players as the "general" on defense and his reinforcement of our secondary will help a struggling Jaguars pass rush. Even Malik Jackson, who signed one of the richest contracts in free agency this year, won’t be as much of a contributing factor to our team as Gipson.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp:
How does Dante Fowler look? Whether we like it or not, the burden of the Jaguars pass rush -- or at least a significant portion of it -- rests on his shoulders. And with Fowler effectively a rookie after a season-ending injury last May, that’s a lot to ask of him, even if he was the No. 3 overall pick in 2015. As Fowler goes, so does our pass rush.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:
It’s a toss up between how the offensive line shakes out and how good of a running back tandem T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory are. Kelvin Beachum is pushing Luke Joeckel out of the starting left tackle spot and the coaching staff is trying Joeckel out at guard -- a move that I don’t think will pay any dividends by the time the regular season starts up. I think newly signed Mackenzy Bernadeau takes over the left guard spot, Beachum wraps up the left tackle spot, and Joeckel is on the outside looking in by August.
Notable injuries heading into training camp:
Jalen Ramsey wasn’t a participant in mini-camp and although he has said he’s 100 percent for weeks now, he hasn’t really practiced with the team yet. Myles Jack has practiced, but it’ll be interesting to see how his knee holds up in training camp. Neither is a significant concern however and I expect both to be ready to go. Other than that, there aren’t any notable injuries. Backup offensive lineman Luke Bowanko is on the PUP list.