Team Profile- Jacksonville Jaguars

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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Team Profiles – Indianapolis Colts

Team Profiles- Indianapolis Colts by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Team Profiles – Indianapolis Colts. Chuck Pagano is the current head coach for the Indianapolis Colts, and although he’s been coaching in the NFL since 2001, this is his first head coaching position. Pagano has coached for the Cleveland Browns, the Oakland Raiders, and the Baltimore Ravens prior to joining the Colts. Consistency is the best term to use when describing Pagano’s coaching recording in Indianapolis, because in 3 years as the head coach, he has recorded 11-5 seasons in each. The Colts will have at least 11 wins in 2015.

2015 Team Outlook–
Indianapolis has won the AFC South 4 out of the past 6 years (Houston won it in 2010 & 2011.) The Colts have all the pieces in place to easily lead the AFC South in wins again in 2015. The Colts however need a stronger defense, need to figure out their running game and replenish their receiving corps. The Colts will be champs of the AFC South in 2015, with Houston in 2nd place, and Jacksonville and Tennessee well under .500.

QB– How’s this for stability at the quarterback position…since 1990, the Indianapolis Colts have only needed 4 different quarterbacks to be the starting QB the franchise (excluding the 2011). Jeff George (’90-’93), Jim Harbaugh (’94-’97), Peyton Manning (’99-’10) and Andrew Luck (’12-’14). Peyton Manning was selected first overall in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Colts, and Luck was selected first overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Having only 2 quarterbacks play for a franchise over a span of 16+ years is a luxury only very few teams can boast of having. Luck was the #1 QB in the NFL in 2014 with 4761 yards passing – 43 total TDs. If he stays injury-free, he should be battling QB Aaron Rodgers as the #1 QB again in 2015.

RBs– Only the Colts know why on September 18, 2013 they traded Cleveland for RB Trent Richardson in exchange for a 2014 first-round draft pick. Granted, The Colts were looking for a running back after a season-ending injury to Vick Ballard. Other running backs were available however, and Richardson had shown nothing in Cleveland despite being a third overall by the Browns in 2012. Their willingness to trade him should have told the Colts something about the running back. Right now, the Colts are trying to find grounds to void the $3.184 million left on his contract. This could get messy. The running back that did show promise in 2014 was 3rd year player Dan Herron. Herron became the featured back for Indianapolis from Week 12 on. Although RB Herron handled himself very well in 2014, the Colts seem to consider him “more of a backup than starter”. Look for Indianapolis to grab 1 or 2 RBs in April’s NFL Draft or in free agency. UPDATE: Colts waive RB Richardson and Michael Hill. Colts sign former 49er RB Frank Gore to a 3 year deal. He is one of my favorite sleepers for 2015!

Few Colts are as revered in Indianapolis as WR Reggie Wayne is. Johnny Unitas (a Baltimore Colt), Peyton Manning, and Edgerrin James are a few others. On December 14th WR Reggie Wayne broke the Colt’s franchise record of 209 for games played. Wayne has played for the Colts his entire career, since being drafted in 2001. Some great things must come to end however, and although a sensational player, Wayne was a negative impact on Indianapolis’ offense. At 36 years old, Wayne can no longer be the player he was, and had only 791 yards and 2 TDs in 2014. If the Colts are going to keep up with the Pats, the Steelers and the Broncos in the AFC, they need young play-makers. The Colts have a special one in WR TY Hilton and perhaps another in WR Donte Moncrief. (Moncrief was one of the talented young wide receivers drafted in 2014.) WR TY Hilton ended the 2014 as the #10 WR in the NFL. Indianapolis also had veteran Hakeem Nicks playing for them in 2014, but the Colts seriously need to move on from that guy. UPDATE: Colts sign former Texan WR Andre Johnson and former Charger/Raider Vincent Brown. The Colts selected 5’10” WR Phillip Dorsett with their 1st pick, which was odd to say the least! The Colts defense is atrocious, yet they felt they needed another WR for QB Luck, who already has more than he can make happy.

In 2014, Indianapolis had not one, but two tight ends that ended the season ranked in the top 15 of NFL TEs. Coby Fleener ranked #6 with 774 and 8 TDs, and Dwayne Allen ranked #14 with 395 and 8 TDs. The Colts have always had tight ends play a big role in their offense, and 2015 will be more of the same.

In 2014, Adam Vinatieri made a career-high 35 field goals last, going 19-of-23 from 40-plus yards out. He is the first kicker ever to win four Super Bowl rings. As of the 2014 season, Vinatieri, 42, is the oldest active player in the NFL. The Colts think he has a ton of leg left, re-signing Vinatieri to a two-year, $5 million contract.

The Seahawks and the Patriots went to the Super Bowl in 2014, and the biggest thing they have, that the Colts don’t have, is a championship defense. The Colts made it to the playoffs, but they play in a weak division and their defense was badly exposed in the AFC Championship vs the Patriots. They got their butts kicked…45-7. The Colts need to put a priority on getting some serious run-stopping play-makers for their defense because teams ran all over them last season. There really isn’t any area of the Indy defensive that doesn’t need help. UPDATE: Colts sign CB Deveron Carr, ILB Nate Irving and S Dwight Lowery.

2014 Indianapolis Fantasy Surprises–
This one’s an easy one. Even into week 17, the Colts never gave up on RB Trent Richardson, WR Reggie Wayne or WR Hakeem Nicks, when it was apparent to everyone except the Colts, that other players should be on the field. Indianapolis has other talent that should have been getting playing time and experience earlier in the season. RB Richardson averaged 3 yards carry and had only 3 TDs. WR Wayne and WR Nicks didn’t even end the 2014 season in the top 50 among wide receivers (and that’s with Andrew Luck as the quarterback!)

2015 Free Agents that Indianapolis Needs to Address–
RB Ahmad Bradshaw- WR Josh Cribbs- WR Hakeem Nicks- WR Reggie Wayne- DE Corey Redding (signed w/ Arizona)- DT Ricky Jean Francois- CB Josh Gordy- CB Darius Butler (re-signed)- S Sergio Brown (signed w/ the Jags)- S LaRon Landry-(released)

2015 NFL Draft–
The immediate needs of Indianapolis are at running back, run-stoppers, O-Line help, and at safety. The Colts first need to dump RB Richardson, but hopefully they use their 1st round selection on a defensive player and address the running back position later (RB), right tackle remains the most glaring weakness on Indianapolis’ O- line (OL) and the Colts gave up too many points last year (S). UPDATE: Indianapolis’entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- INDIANAPOLIS’ DRAFT

Did You Know– The Indianapolis Colts have had only had one losing season in past 13 years, and that all 12 winning seasons since 2001 have had double digit wins? From 2002-2014, the Colts record is 144 wins and only 64 loses. Only in the 2011 season under HC Jim Caldwell, did the team have less than 10 wins.

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

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Team Profiles- Dallas Cowboys

Team Profiles- Dallas Cowboys by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Two years ago, Jason Garrett, the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, had to listen to daily rumors that he was on the way out of Dallas. That’s what happens when the team you are coaching goes 6-10 in 2010, then 8-8 the next 3 years in a row. Owner Jerry Jones stayed with Garrett for 2014, and consequently the Cowboys had a dominating 12-4 season, won the NFC East Division and went to the playoffs. Garrett’s job is safe for a couple more years. It’s hard to tell where Garrett’s coaching ends and Jerry Jones’ begins, but as a team, they understood the value of a strong offensive line, and in 2014, they had one of the best…if not THE BEST. Opposing teams knew RB DeMarco Murray would carry the ball on the first down (he did it nearly every set of downs), and yet the O-Line made holes and RB Murray got his 6-8 yards. It happened all season. That’s when you know you have a great O-Line, when they know it’s coming, and can’t stop it. RB Emmitt Smith had a gigantic O-Line back in the 90s that made holes your grandmother could run through, so it’s no surprise that Dallas is built that way again.

2015 Team Outlook –
Dallas runs in the NFC East Division with Philadelphia, Washington and the New York Giants. It’s a quirky division, because all 4 of these teams take turns winning the NFC East. Dallas won it in 2014, Philly in 2013, Washington in 2012 and the Giants in 2010. Philadelphia, Washington and the New York Giants have a lot of question marks heading into the 2015 season, so with the Cowboys as the most stable team, it’s a pretty good guess that they’ll win the division 2 years in a row. (Philadelphia and Washington aren’t committed to their current QBs and the Giants ended the 2014 season 6-10, so they have issues to address.) Whether Jones can buy a Superbowl like he tried to in 2014, is a wait and see.

2015 Fantasy Outlook –

QB– Owner Jerry Jones will tell you that he got very lucky landing QB Tony Romo, who was not selected in the 2003 NFL Draft, and signed on as a free agent with the Cowboys. All Romo has done since, is being selected to the Pro Bowl in the 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2014 seasons…all years in which the Dallas has made the playoffs. In 2014 he ranked as the #13 quarterback in the NFL, the same ranking he had in 2013. He ended 2014 with 3766 total yards, 34 TDs and only 9 INTs. He’s as solid for fantasy owners as he is the Cowboy organization, but he’ll need a Superbowl ring to ever be considered great.

RBs– Going into the 2014 season, the knock on RB DeMarco Murray was his durability, a word used a lot when discussing running backs. Murray shut up all the doubters however, becoming the #1 running back in the league this past season, playing in all 16 games, racking up 2261 total yards from scrimmage and scoring 13 TDs. He even played Week 16 vs the Colts with a broken hand. On January 31st, the Associated Press named DeMarco Murray its 2014 Offensive Player of the Year. Murray is a free agent, so his return to the Dallas line-up is questionable. The Cowboys also have their star receiver as a free agent this year, so getting both signed is currently Dallas’ dilemma. (If Dallas can’t resign RB Murray, The Dallas Morning News believes Joseph Randle will be the Cowboys’ starting running back in 2015…if Randle can stay out of prison.) UPDATE: Cowboys losing RB DeMarco Murray to Philly, makes RB Randle the front-runner for the starting running back. Dallas signs RB Darren McFadden, who will be a back-up only.

The Cowboys have plenty of talent in their receiving corps, with WR Dez Bryant as the big-time play maker. Bryant was the #3 wide receiving for the 2014 season, catching 88 passes for 1320 yards and 13 TDs. WR Terrance Williams lines up opposite WR Bryant and he quietly had 681 yards in 2014 and 8 TDs, WR Williams, a 3rd round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, came on strong in playoffs for Dallas, scoring 3 TDs, 2 vs Detroit. The #3 WR Cole Beasley is a little “Wes Welker” type receiver for Dallas, who finished fourth on Dallas with 48 targets last season, posting a 37/420/4 line. UPDATE: Cowboys signed WR Dez Bryant to a five-year, $70 million contract, including $45 million guaranteed.

Who is the second all-time leader in career receptions and receiving yards for a tight end, trailing only Tony Gonzalez, currently in the NFL? Hint: Since I am profiling Dallas, he is a Cowboy. I’ll take a wild stab, and guess that no one got this wrong. Jason Witten has been with Dallas since being drafted in 2003, and every year, Witten is a top 5 tight end in the NFL. Clearly one of the best to ever play the position and a lock someday for the Hall of Fame. At 32, he shows little signs of slowing down, and will be an important factor in Dallas’ offense once again in 2015.

You have to hand it to Dallas, and their knack of discovering undrafted free agent talent. Following the 2011 NFL Draft, Bailey signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. He ranked #8 for the 2014 season. As of October 2014, when his 100th made field goal made him eligible for ranking, Bailey became the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history, and is the only kicker to convert over 90 percent of his kicks.

In 2013, the Dallas Cowboys finished last in the league in sacks per pass attempt and No. 25 in the league in sacks. In 2014 they finished 28th in sacks, which was a little improvement. Dallas simply doesn’t have difference-makers on their front seven, and they need them. The team ranked #19 among NFL defenses last season, but they should be better on 2015. UPDATE: Cowboys sign OLB Keith Rivers, MLB Jasper Brinkley, DT Nick Hayden and claim CB Corey White off waivers.

2014 Dallas Fantasy Surprises–
Easily, RB DeMarco Murray becoming the #1 running back in the league this past season, and playing in all 16 games was the biggest surprise. We expect QB Romo, WR Dez Bryant and TE Witten to be very good, and post big numbers. I’d be surprised if getting the Dallas defense back on track wouldn’t be a priority, 2nd only to getting the free agents signed. I can’t say however, that I believe defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is the right guy to do it.

2015 Free Agents that Dallas Needs to Address – RB DeMarco Murray (signed w/ Philly)- WR Dez Bryant (franchise tagged)- FB Tyler Clutts- WR Dwayne Harris (signed w/ NY Giants)- OT Doug Free (re-signed)- DE George Selvie (signed w/ NY Giants)- DT Nick Hayden (re-signed)- OL Bruce Carter (signed w/ TB) – OL Justin Durant Signed w/ Atlanta) – CB Sterling Moore (signed w/ TB)

2015 NFL Draft –
The immediate needs of Dallas are defensive help, keeping their O-line solid, and likely addressing the running back position. Dallas needs a stronger, more effective pass-rush (DE), they need to keep their O-Line solid, especially if they loose anyone to free agency (OT) and roster depth at running back (RB). Additionally, Dallas hasn’t drafted a quarterback since 2009, and Romo can’t play forever (QB). UPDATE: Dallas’ entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- DALLAS’ DRAFT

Did You Know –
The Dallas Cowboys have an estimated value of $2.3 billion, the Cowboys are the most valuable team in the NFL, they are the 5th most valuable sports team in the WORLD, they generate $560 million in revenue which is the most of any NFL team AND YET…The NFL hasn’t paid a dime in taxes since the 1960’s and is still considered a “non-profit organization”.

All team reports
can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

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