Team Profile- Jacksonville Jaguars
by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
On January 17, 2013, Gus Bradley was hired as the new head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, replacing HC Mike Mularkey, who was let go after only one season. Along with the Carolina Panthers, the Jaguars joined the NFL as expansion teams in 1995. The Jags have had a rough couple of years, and have not had a winning record since 2007. When Bradley took over as the head coach, he inherited a team that in 2012, ranked #28 on offense, and #28 on defense. After his first year, the defense stayed the same (28th) but the offense sunk further down to #32 in the NFL. HC Bradley is a defensive-minded coach, having been Seattle’s defense coordinator from 2009-2012. The defense will get better under HC Bradley, but Jacksonville’s new QB Blake Bortles (drafted in 2014) is a work in progress, and as the QB goes, so does the offense.
2015 Team Outlook– The Jaguars battling the Colts in the AFC South division is like “a mom & pop” store opening up across the street from WalMart. If Jacksonville could somehow get Indianapolis kicked out the AFC South, then they would only have to fight Tennessee and Houston, which would give them a 33% chance of winning. Right now they have a 0% chance. If QB Bortles can become the franchise quarterback that the Jags hoped he be when drafting him 3rd overall in ’14, then maybe in a couple short years, Indianapolis won’t be as dominating in that division. But right now for Jacksonville, it isn’t close. The Jags are 14-50 over the past 4 years.
2015 Fantasy outlook-
QB– The Jaguars haven’t had a franchise quarterback that can win games for them, since QB Mark Brunell (1995-2002) Jacksonville has used their #1 NFL Draft selection on a college QB 3 times in the past 11 years. In 2003 they selected Bryon Leftwich #1, who lasted 3 seasons. In 2011 they selected Blaine Gabbert #1, who lasted 2 seasons. In 2014 they selected Blake Bortles #1, who is going into his 2nd season. QB Bortles ended his first season throwing for 2907 yards, rushing for 419 yards, throwing only 11 TD passes, while throwing 17 INTs. 11 touchdown passes to 17 interceptions is not good, and if Bortles can’t cut back on all the mistakes, he will be yet another QB on the Jag’s long list of QB failures. Jacksonville’s back-up QB is Chad Henne, who has had some success in his NFL career.
RBs– Coming into the 2014, the free agent RB pick-up that was going to be the workhorse for Jacksonville was Toby Gerhart, but he quickly failed to impress. RB Gerhart came over from Minnesota, where he had marginal success, and started five games for the Vikings during the 2011 regular season, rushing for 531 yards. On March 11, 2014, Gerhart signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Jags, which included $4.5 million guaranteed. Unfortunately, the Jaguar’s team is littered with poor decisions like signing Gerhart over the past 7-8 years, and the team’s record has reflected as such. After Gerhart’s poor performance in the first 5 games (48 attempts, 121 yards and 1 TD…ugh!) the Jags turned to RB Denard “Shoelace” Robinson, who was surprisingly successful until landing on I.R. with a torn ligament in his foot after Week 14. The Jaguars are sure to grab at least one RB out of free agency, but RB Robinson is currently listed as the starting running back for the 2015 season. UPDATE: Claimed former Raven RB Bernard Pierce off waivers, who will be insurance only IF he makes the team in September. The Jags drafted RB TJ Yeldon with their 2nd overall pick. Regardless of the landing spot, I am not a fan of Yeldon’s and not a fan of the Jaguars offense. An Alabama Alum, so TJ Yeldon is either going to be an “Eddie Lacy” or a “Trent Richardson”, and I am leaning toward the latter. Pick this guy if he is available in later rounds in your fantasy drafts, but NOT EARLY.
WRs– Jacksonville has drafted 5 wide receivers in past 4 years, and of course, this list contains players that have failed badly for the Jags. Topping their “bust” list is WR Justin Blackmon. Jacksonville used their #1 selection in 2012 on Blackmon, only to have him get suspended twice during 2013 for violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Blackmon did not play a single down for the Jaguars during the 2014 season. Consequently, he has just been released by the team. The other recent WRs drafted by Jacksonville are WR Ace Sanders (2013), Marqise Lee (2014) and Allen Robinson (2014). Undrafted free agent WR Allen Hurns, the star of the preseason for the Jaguars, was the only Jag wide receiver to rank in the top 50 WRs in the NFL for the 2014 season.
TEs– Jacksonville ranks near the bottom in nearly every NFL category, and the tight end’s category is no exception. Two Jacksonville TEs, Clay Harbor & Marcedes Lewis ranked 39th & 43rd respectively in 2014. TE Marcedes Lewis was actually Jacksonville’s #1 draft pick in 2006. Lewis has played his entire career with Jacksonville, but poor QB performances year after year has hurt his production. Do not expect much in 2015 from the Jacksonville’s tight ends, because their targets from QB Bortles averaged only 2 per game last season. I don’t see it changing. UPDATE: Jags signed former Bronco TE Julius Thomas to a 5 year deal. Thomas’ success in Denver with QB Peyton Manning will have him selected rounds earlier than he should be. Note that Jacksoville was dead last in points per game in 2014, and that’s not likely to change much in 2015.
K– Josh Scobee is an 11 year veteran playing on a team that scores very few points. Scobee attempted a paltry 26 field goals in 2014, and knocked in only 20 of them. It’s futile and boring trying to write something interesting about a Jacksonville place kicker.
DEF– The Jaguars have a very young offense, that is either going to grow into a success, or fail badly. If it does fail, then fixing it will be HC Bradley’s priority next year, but for now it is in place. The means that the Jags can concentrate on fixing the defense this year, which it sorely needs. Jacksonville has ranked in the bottom 5 of NFL defenses for too many years now, so expect a lot of personnel changes in 2015. UPDATE: Jags released CB Will Blackmon. Re-signed DL Ryan Davis & DE Tyson Alualu.
2014 Jacksonville Fantasy Surprises– RB Denard “Shoelace” Robinson is not a big, rugged running back, so even HC Bradley admitted at the Combine this year, that he was “shocked” by Robinson’s emergence in 2014. (Robinson was the starting quarterback in all 26 games for the 2010 & 2011 U of M Wolverines.) When QB Blake Bortles entered the 2014 NFL Draft, his attributes included an accurate arm and good decision making. 11 TDs and 17 INTs doesn’t reflect an accurate arm and good decision making.
2015 Free Agents that Jacksonville Needs to Address- WR Cecil Shorts (signed w/ Houston)- DE Tyson Alualu (re-signed)- OL Geno Hayes- OL J T Thomas (signed w/ NY Giants)- CB Alan Ball (signed w/ Chicago)
2015 NFL Draft– The immediate needs of Jacksonville is everywhere on defense and help on their O-Line. The Jags have been trying to upgrade at center since last year and also at right tackle (C & RT), Jacksonville was last in the NFL last year in INT takeaways, so they need to upgrade their secondary (S & CB) and they need to pressure QBs by solidifying the front seven (DT). UPDATE: Jacksonville’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- JACKSONVILLE’S DRAFT
Did You Know– The Jaguars purposely wear their white jerseys during home games in the first half of the season, because it forces their opponents to wear their dark uniforms, which is extremely hot and uncomfortable in the sweltering autumns in Jacksonville?
Team Home Page: www.jaguars.com