Even with the lingering curse that is Blake Bortles, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been stockpiling talent. This team is getting ready to explode, but it probably won’t be until the Jags move on from the disaster that has been Blake Bortles. To put things in perspective, the 2014 third overall pick has thrown as many pick-sixes as career wins as an NFL quarterback. In case you didn’t know, that’s eleven in just three seasons. In fact, if you extrapolate Blake Bortles’s pick-six rate over Brett Favre’s 302 career games, he is projected to throw 72 pick-sixes by the end of his career. Sound like a lot? Brett Favre, the all-time career interception leader, threw 31 pick-sixes. Bortles is on pace to to break the all-time record for pick sixes in just year eight of his career. Let me just stop there because I could take a statistical dump on Bortles all day. Let’s dig into the rest of the team. Shall we?
In true Jaguars fashion, Dolphin’s left tackle Brandon Albert was traded to the Jaguars in exchange for starting tight end Julius Thomas only to abruptly retire just before the start of his first camp with Jacksonville. Apparently after only a week of retirement, the veteran tackle announced his desire to come out of retirement and play for his new team. The Jaguars have since denied him reentry into the franchise. Even so, the Jaguars should have a decent offensive line in 2017.
Center Brandon Linder is quietly one of the best centers in football. The Jags signed Earl Watford from Detroit to play left guard, but Patrick Omameh played well in 2016 especially in pass protection. They also drafted Cam Robinson out of Alabama who will have to play left tackle immediately following Albert’s departure. This 2017 offensive tackle class is known for its lack of dominance at the position, but Robinson held his out against first overall pick DE Miles Garrett when Roll Tide played the Aggies.
After an explosive breakout season in 2015 where he accumulated 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns, Allen Robinson’s production fell to under 900 yards and 6 touchdowns. This directly matches up with the poor play from Bortles following the 2015 season, and that poor quarterback play runs parallel with Allen Hurns’s declining play in 2016 as well. After his breakout play in 2015, Allen Hurns struggled to stay healthy in 2016, and his production when he was on the fell wasn’t great. I expect both guys to bounce back this season even with Bortles at quarterback.
In Hurn’s absense, Marqise Lee showed true flashes, and he should be one of the better number three receivers in the NFL in 2016. In the 2017 draft, the Jaguars stole Dede Westbrook out of Oklahoma in the fourth round. Dede has a lot of potential and can bring explosive production out of the slot. Behind these four guys there isn’t much, but their receiver core should be a strength in 2017.
There are none.
After trading away Julius Thomas, the Jaguars will just throw rusty trash cans on the field at the tight end positions. Marcedes Lewis and Mychal Rivera may not even be backup tight ends in the NFL. There are many teams where they wouldn’t even make the roster. I didn’t think there could be a positional weakness bigger than Blake Bortles, but this may be just that.
I am a huge Leonard Fournette fan, and I truly believe he can be the centerpiece of this offense. He won’t have a Zeke-like rookie year, but he will be able to take pressure off of the rest of the offense. With the thunderous power to break tackles and the speed to bust one loose, the LSU Tiger will be a staple of this team for years to come. Chris Ivory and TJ Yeldon also create some of the best running back depth in the league. If Bortles could ever have an efficient year throwing the football, it would be because the running game took on most of the offensive load.
If Dante Fowler Jr. isn’t disciplined for his recent arrest, this defensive line could be a strength if he can finally live up to the hype. On the opposite end of the line, the Jags signed Mr. Consistent from the Arizona Cardinals in Calais Campbell. In the middle, defensive tackle Malik Jackson should continue to anchor down the interior line, but Sheldon Day is a question mark at the other defensive tackle position. There is even decent depth behind these guys, so this defensive line may be one of the more underrated units in the league.
The linebacker unit is also looking good, but it is rather top-heavy. Paul Posluszny returns after a fantastic 2016 campaign, and 2016 second round pick Myles Jack looks to take another step forward this season. Weakside linebacker Telvin Smith had a solid year in 2016, and he has the potential to play even better in 2017. The depth behind them is pretty wishy-washy, so this unit needs to stay healthy if it is going to be a strength.
After being one of the top corners in the league in 2016, A.J. Bouye signed a huge deal with the Jaguars to pair up with outstanding youngster Jalen Ramsey at the cornerback positions. These two have the potential to be the best cornerback tandem in the NFL. Barry Church comes over from the Dallas Cowboys after a career year at strong safety, and Tashaun Gibson rounds out this talented secondary at free safety. Other than these starters, the Jaguars have really neglected the depth at the corner and safety positions. A bunch of young and mostly undrafted backups fill the depth chart, and it could get ugly quick if any of the starters go down. Once again, the health of this unit will determine whether it is a strength or not.
Jaguars Schedule and Record Prediction
Week 1: L @ Houston Texans
Week 2: W vs Tennessee Titans
Week 3: L vs Baltimore Ravens
Week 4: W @ New York jets
Week 5: L @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 6: W vs Los Angeles Rams
Week 7: L @ Indianapolis Colts
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: L vs Cincinnati Bengals
Week 10: L vs Los Angeles Chargers
Week 11: W @ Cleveland Browns
Week 12: L @ Arizona Cardinals
Week 13: W vs Indianapolis Colts
Week 14: L vs Seattle Seahawks
Week 15: W vs Houston Texans
Week 16: L @ San Francisco 49ers
Week 17: L @ Tennessee Titans
Final Record: 6-10
The Elephant in the Room
Blake Bortles is inaccurate, inept, and in-trouble. If the disaster that is Hurricane Bortles continues to crash against the shores of Jacksonville, Florida, the Jaguars are in for another long season of interceptions and head-scratching quarterback play. It would not surprise me in the least if Blake Bortles was benched by seasons end, and the Jaguars proceeded in tanking for a quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. It’s as clear as the bald spot on the top of his head; this is Bortles final opportunity in Jacksonville. Regardless, this team is talented, and their best years are clearly ahead of them.