The Jaguars in 2017 went above and beyond expectations. Let’s just take a moment and acknowledge one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of the NFL. This was a team that had three wins in 2016 and was one drive away from the Super bowl in 2017. That is one of the wildest stories in NFL history in my humble opinion. I will never forget the Jags 2017 season but it’s now time for them to step up to meet high expectations in 2018.
The majority of football pundits hate Blake Bortles. Whether it be because of turnovers, a wonky throwing motion, or the fact he “just doesn’t act like an NFL starting QB”. This is all bogus because when you look at what he did in 2017 he wasn’t a train wreck, he was a game manager. He only threw 13 interceptions last year, a career low. That isn’t a lot. You know who else threw 13 interceptions? Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, and Dak Prescott. Three up and coming fairly positively looked on QB’s had the same number of interceptions as Blake Bortles. Bortles is a top 20 QB, plain and simple, the hate for him is not unfounded but he is not as bad as some say. He does what needs to be done to get a win and that’s all youll get out of him but when you have the Jags roster that is all you really need.
That is partly because of a dominant offensive line that blocks really well for Leonard Fournette. Fournette is the next Adrian Peterson a power back with immense strength and speed who is already an immediate difference maker. He’s a top tier runner in the leauge after one year. The Jaguars will wear him out once again but Fournette doesn’t seem to mind, he gets better the more touches he has. He’s a bang em out back and he will continue to dominate in 2018.
The Jaguars receiving core lost a lot in the offseason, it looks almost completely different than 2017. Marqise Lee will return to fill the starting spot left behind by Allen Robinson (Bears) and Donte Moncrief comes from the chiefs to replace Allen Hurns (Cowboys). Moncrief hasn’t shown concrete evidence he’s a week to week star though. Rookie D.J. Chark will have massive responsibility to preform in his first year out of LSU. His 6’3 frame and explosive speed will help this team take deep shots down the field. Meanwhile the Jags add former Jet’s tight end Austin Safarian Jenkins, a force for the Jet’s last year who will give Bortles a great short yardage target and a player that was one of the leading Jet’s in YAC in 2017.
This is the best defense in the NFL though. Hands down no question, of all the rosters I have looked through thus far (14) and I doubt I find better. The defensive line itself is worth it’s own paragraph. Calais Campbell was my pick for DPOY last year. He was truly dominant last year with 14.5 sacks. Then you pair him with all pro level run stopper Malik Jackson who dominated the line of scrimmage in his second year with the Jaguars in 2017. Yannick Ngakoue has 20 sacks in his first two years in the leauge and could be considered a game wrecker if he continues to improve this year. Then you look at the depth, former first round Dante Fowler Jr. didn’t live up to the hype but still get’s sacks on plays where he’s put in. Taven Bryan the Florida star drafted in the first round will eventually replace Malik Jackson but looks like he is ready to start now. Then you move to the line backers and see Myles Jack who dominated in the AFC championship game and should be an all pro this year. Pair him with Telvin Smith and you have a pretty deadly linebacking tandem. However the most amazing part of the defense is the secondary. Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye are for my money the number one and two linebackers in the leauge. This defense will once again dominate in 2018.
The Jaguars should be expected to dominate in 2018. If Bortles can continue to manage the game and the offense can average around 20 points a game the defense can take care of the rest. The Jaguars will once again be AFC contenders in 2018. And frankly I can’t wait to watch them play.
Record Prediction: 11-5