After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…
So we wrap up the AFC South today with those that some idiots refer to as OUR Jacksonville Jaguars.
How Did Last Season Go?
Well it started off fantastically as the Jags revealed a load of slick new unis and brought an end to those god awful two tone helmets. I’m definitely one of those sports fans to whom nice uniforms matter and I get excited by which number a player wears; so I thought this was a really positive note on which to start the season.
Ok… so, with the positives of the Jaguars season out of the way, now for the negatives… get comfy.
Well, in fact, I guess a 3-1 start through the first quarter of the season wasn’t too bad, especially since one of those wins came against the Patriots. However, after being a play or two away from the Superbowl the year before, this kind of start was expected in Jacksonville… and pride usually does for before the fall and oh my, how did they fall…
After starting pretty positively, the Jaguars then went on a 7 game losing streak until the oddest game of the year when they beat the Colts 6-0 in week 13. In fact, aside from that Colts win they only won one more game; a dead rubber in week 17 against the Dolphins.
5-11 is a long way from the AFC Championship game, my friends.
What was the reason for this almighty fall? Well, the season before last, Blake Bortles wasn’t turning the ball over at the worst times and when he did, because he still did, I mean, he’s Blake Bortles, the Jags defense bailed him out as they were playing at an All-World level.
This past season, Bortles wasn’t throwing many touchdowns, just 13 in 13 games, threw 11 picks and fumbled 8 times. The offense just wasn’t moving and he was making errors. The former 3rd overall pick was actually almost as potent with his legs, averaging 6.3 yards per carry, as he was with his arm, where he averaged 6.7 yards per attempt… And everyone kills Lamar Jackson for being a running back *rolling eyes emoji*.
The Jags also paid the price for building an offense which only has small, fast receivers paired with a QB that isn’t throwing deep and also for having too many big personalities in the locker room and not being able to keep a lid on the discipline.
Cap space: $15m
Draft picks (7): Round 1, 7th overall, round 2, 38th overall, round 3, 69th & 98th overall, round 4, 109th overall, round 6, 178th over & round 7, 236th overall.
Shock horror, Bortles is gone. He was being paid far too much to do nothing more than hurt the team and even though his dead cap number is $16.5m and that’s a bitter pill to swallow, the Jags had to do it.
Tayshaun Gibson, Malik Jackson, Jermey Parnell, Carlos Hyde and long snapper, Carson Tinker were also cap casualties and Jacksonville made some choices in order to give themselves some breathing room in their quest to refresh their roster whilst they still believe they have a Superbowl window with a top end defense. Barry Church was also cut before the season ended to add to these outgoing veterans.
However, the Jags are still in a fairly strong position as they have Ronnie Harrison and Taven Bryan already on the team, to replace Gibson and Jackson and Carlos Hyde never really played, so aside from wasted draft capital, he’s no loss either.
So essentially, Jacksonville trimmed the fat on a roster which is still pretty strong, on paper at least. And freed up cash for the incomings… speaking of which…
The big news is, welcome to Jacksonville Big Dick Nick. Of course, the Jags are rolling with the biggest winner of a poor free agency class and draft class at QB and wildly overpaying a QB that has been patchy at best through his whole career, aside from a few months with Doug Pederson as his HC. Who is Jacksonville’s head coach? Answer: NOT Doug Pederson. Answers on a postcard or to email@example.com is you can guess how I feel Foles will do with the Jags…
So as for in house business, A.J McCann got resigned which is a decent, low risk deal for Jacksonville. McCann was their third round pick in 2015, so he knows the team and the system and it means they’ll have largely the same line as last year as things stand.
The right tackle spot is seemingly open was applications though, Will Richardson is probably in a camp battle with Cedric Ogbuehi for the starting job there. Ogbuehi was s first rounder for the Bengals four years ago but has done nothing but disappoint… don’t be shocked if the 7th or 38th overall pick is spent on a right tackle to compete with these two guys…
Other incomings are Chris Conley and Geoff Swaim.
I hope you’re still with me, I know the last couple of paragraphs have been tough. None of these free agents get the blood flowing for me…
However, what does get the blood flowing is the NFL Draft and in 2019, the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to be really intriguing to me. The could go a lot of different way at 7th overall; if Foles is a bridge guy, are they taking a quarterback? Are they taking a right tackle as I said earlier? Are they taking a top wide receiver or even a tight end to give Foles someone to throw the ball to? I think it’s really tough to call at this stage and will probably remain so right up until draft night.
Ultimately, I feel like, unless they’ve fallen head over heels for a guy, Jacksonville and Tom Coughlin will do the smart thing and see how it shakes out and let the draft come to them and take the best player available at one of those positions of need on offense at 7.
Outlook For Next Year
As you can probably tell, I’m not completely sold on Nick Foles in Jacksonville and what makes it more bizarre is that they paid him so much money, apparently in order so that he garners respect in the locker room. I have an issue with this on a couple of levels.
Firstly, it says a lot about the kind of characters you have on your team if they equate dollars earned to respect given.
Second, when Foles is bad, do you really think the likes of Jalen Ramsey and Leonard Fournette are going to be cool with it because the Jags paid him? This is Jalen Ramsey who called his own QB, Blake Bortles, just “OK” last year whilst they were teammates. Ladies and gentlemen, Nick Foles is going to get torn a new one if Jacksonville suck. When you’ve sucked like the Jags have, then get a little taste success like the Jags did then suck again, that’s awfully tough to take.
Look it’s not all on Foles either, the way that Jacksonville play the game offensively puts far too much of the load of Leonard Fournette’s shoulders, unless they find a reliable playmaker or two for Foles to go to with the football.
The defense is still one of the best units in the league and will give the Jags a chance in a lot of games but man, this is a tough division to have a potentially toothless offense in.
Like all the AFC South teams, it’s going to be pretty tough sledding in 2019 given that, they first of all, play each other (obvious I know, but there’s no obvious 4th placed team), they play the NFC South and the AFC West, again two of the best divisions in the game. The Jets and the Bengals make up the schedule as fellow basement dwellers in the AFC.
At the minute, I’m going for 6-10 for the Jaguars. That could change after the draft if they improve in a couple of areas but at the moment I have a lot if teams ahead of them, since they’ve not done a lot to improve a 5-11 roster from last year as had to cut some vets to clear some cap room.
Again, I think it’s tough to bet of Jags players for fantasy purposes. The D/ST are probably the surest bet you have on this roster but they don’t come without risk since they could be on the field a fair bit.
Foles isn’t someone I’m getting excited about for fantasy and nor are any of their wide receivers.
Fournette is a feature back and will get a lot of touches but he’s banged up an awful lot; way too much to be comfortable spending a first round pick on him anyway. He’s also a bout of ill discipline away from being benched or traded, in which case It’d all be up in the air. Which is the Jags are bad, again, may not be too far away.
Obviously if it all works out, then great but for me, I’m waiting on Jags players and not putting my hopes on their shoulders in any way by selecting them early doors.