#32 Jacksonville Jaguars
Maurice Jones-Drew no doubt remains the face of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Will Blaine Gabbert remain the QB?
The NFL preseason is a mere, day away. The NFL regular season is just over a month away. Time to breakdown the 2013 NFL season, by going team by team in Sports & Swag’s NFL Team Preview Countdown…. Today we start by breaking down #32 The Jacksonville Jaguars
2012 Record: 2-14 (Last AFC South)
Best Addition: OT Luke Joeckel ( 1st round pick/ Texas A&M )
Worst Loss: CB Derek Cox (Led team in INT’s)
Offense: 2012 NFL Ranking – 29th
The biggest question for the Jaguars, is who will be the quarterback? Chad Henne (72.4 passer rating), took over the final six games last season, after Blaine Gabbert went down with injury. Gabbert (77.4 passer rating), should be fine, and will probably win the starting job. Whomever, earns the starting job will not have a wealth of targets to throw to. At least not initially.
Justin Blackmon, led the Jags receivers last season with 64 receptions (865 yards). Unfortunately, he won’t be available for the first four games, due to being suspended for a DUI arrest. Next in line, at receiver is Cecil Shorts. Shorts, added 55 grabs of his own for 979 yards (17.8 yards per catch). Add tight-end Marcedes Lewis (52 receptions), and there is reason for optimism. Free agent pickup, Mohamed Massaquoi could step in and start during Blackmon’s absence, and should provide depth once he returns. Laurent Robinson and Jordan Shipley could also be factors at receiver.
Of course, the bigger the numbers the Jags passing game puts up, the bigger the numbers Maurice Jones-Drew should be able to put up. However, MJD, in his eighth season has to prove he can still be the workhorse he’s been most of his career. After holding out and missing training camp last season, Jones-Drew went down to injury after playing in only six games. His 414 yards rushing, however, still led the team. That makes it even more imperative for Jones-Drew to be completely recovered from his injury.
Gone is backup running back, Rashad Jennings (2.8 yards/carry). Free agent pickup, Justin Forsett from Houston, should step in to replace him. Also, rookie Denard Robinson could step in and give the Jags some depth and a little versatility. A little Wildcat anyone? Of course, any offense worth it’s salt has to have solid blocking, and the Jags attempted to improve their offensive line by drafting tackle, Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M. The presence of Joeckel and the return of Will Rackley from season ending injury last season, could produce more solid play up front, which in turn will help the Jags produce more offensively, as a whole.
Defense: 2012 NFL Ranking – 30th
So many areas to improve, so little talent to do it with. One area Jacksonville has to sure up is their pass rush. The Jaguars were last in the NFL with only 20 sacks as a team in 2012. Unfortunately, there has been little done to spark improvement. Defensive tackle, Tyson Alualu led the team with only 3.5 sacks, but will be looked at to improve his production. Along with Alualu, the Jags will probably put a lot of stock in veteran defensive end, Jason Babin to rush the quarterback. While pass rush is a major concern, so is rushing defense. The Jags gave up 141 yards/game last season (30th NFL). The Jags hope that defensive tackle, Sen’Derrick Marks can help plug up the gaping holes for opponents to run through.
At middle linebacker, Paul Posluszny may be the Jaguars best defender. Posluszny, led the team with 231 tackles. He also added three interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Russell Allen and Geno Hayes (free agent pickup from Chicago Bears) look to be the starters at outside linebacker. The Jaguars secondary took a major hit with the loss of corner, Derek Cox to free agency. While health was an issue, Cox provided the most production in the secondary with four interceptions. The Jags did pick up Marcus Trufant. who could step into one corner position, while third-round pick Dwayne Gratz looks to be an option on the other end. At safety, second-round pick Johnathan Cyprien looks to be the strong safety, while Dwight Lowery returns at free safety. Inexperience will be a real issue, as the Jaguars try to improve their lackluster 2012 defensive ranking.
The Jags kicking game may be the most solid group on the team. Josh Scobee, was solid making 25 of his 28 field goal attempts. Bryan Anger averaged 47.8 yards per punt, and a net of 40.8 yards. The return game, however, may be totally in the hands of rookies Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson. While they could definitely be an upgrade from last season, inexperience may delay when the upgrade actually happens.
2012, was terrible for the Jaguars. There’s no other way to put it. There is optimism with several players returning from injury, but with questions in just about every aspect of the game, it’s difficult seeing the Jags climb out of the AFC South cellar. The Texans and Colts appear to be the class of the division, and the Titans could be improved. Former defensive coordinator, Gus Bradley takes over as head coach. Jaguar fans best hope is that Bradley’s success on the defensive end in Seattle, translates to improvement on D in Jacksonville. If that happens, and Maurice Jones-Drew returns to form, maybe Gabbert or Henne will have an easier time. Even with that, the Jags won’t win more than 5 games.