Welcome to the 8th ever edition of ‘The Super Bowl Race in the Perspective of Chase’, an almost daily article about your favorite NFL team. In all of our seven articles so far, we have done teams that are at least playoff contenders and also done some championship contenders! But this team, is no where close to either of those achievements. However, they can surprise everyone this season! How has their rebuild gone so far? Lets, get into this!
Real quick before we do, I would like to let you know that we’re doing something very similar to this for the NBA on the Cool Sports Newsletter if you want to check that out.
The Jaguars were actually a very good team in the 2017 season. Under young quarterback Blake Bortles, who had a 21-13 touchdown to interceptions ratio, the Jaguars went 10-6, finishing as the 3rd seed. However, it wasn’t their passing game that prevailed them to victory. It was their stellar defense and stellar rushing game. On defense, Jacksonville ranked second in yards allowed per game and points allowed per game and first in passing yards allowed per game. That defense was led by some really big names. Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, Yannick Ngakoue, A.J Bouye and Telvin Smith. They also had a young Miles Jack on their team as well. Their running game was also amazing, leading the NFL in rushing yards because of rookie running back Leonard Fournette’s 1000+ rushing yards. They also had this amazing season without Allen Robinson which was very impressive.
The Jaguars beat the Bills in the Wild Card round and Steelers in the divisional round before losing to New England in the AFC championship. Despite the loss, this team had massive potential to become a dynasty over the next few seasons, with multiple All-Pro defensive players and a phenom rookie running back. However, the Jaguars won just five games in 2018 and then just six in 2019. At that point, Jacksonville had moved on from Blake Bortles. They had moved onto Gardner Minshew and Nick Foles. Once Foles had gotten hurt, it was Gardner Minshew’s team. In 2020, Jacksonville was terrible on all levels. They won just one game. Minshew actually played really well in the nine games he played, throwing 16 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. And Mike Glennon and Jake Luton weren’t quite the best options at quarterback when Minshew was hurt.
They landed the #1 overall pick in a great year to land the pick. Because they got the obvious #1 overall pick, Trevor Lawrence, quarterback from Clemson. Lawrence was one of the best players in college football and it wasn’t even close. Everybody knew he was going to be the #1 overall pick before the college football season started. They also took his Clemson teammate Travis Etienne at #25 overall. However, Etienne was out for the season due to injury in 2021, giving James Robinson (2020 undrafted rookie who had an amazing season) all of the keys to the running game.
In his rookie season, Lawrence played very below average. He had just 12 touchdowns and a league leading 17 interceptions. His QBR was only 33.5. But in the 3 games Jacksonville won, Lawrence threw no interceptions and 3 touchdowns. So maybe if Lawrence had very good receiving options in 2021, he would have played better and they would have won more. But I wouldn’t overreact about this. Lawrence was a rookie quarterback with nothing to throw to. I thought Leviska Shenault Jr. was going to play very well last season but he underperformed to my expectations. However, it can’t go unnoticed. Quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow and others have had amazing second seasons as quarterback. For Lawrence, that could happen but it is going to be tougher since he wasn’t playing at the level those players were playing at in their rookie season. While saying it was the wrong #1 overall pick after last season is completely insane, he also didn’t play the way everyone expected him to.
But nothing went well for the Jaguars last season. They won just three games and finished with the worst record in the NFL. Because of this, the Jaguars received the #1 overall pick for the second straight season in a row. However, they took Travon Walker, defensive end from Georgia! Personally, I think they blew this pick! He was projected to be picked around #6-10 in the draft but was jumped up to #1 in the final week! I am not high on Walker. I don’t think he was even the best talent on his defense. Jordan Davi has significantly more potential and less risk than Walker. And they passed on Aidan Hutchinson and multiple good secondary players for him!
They did make a great pick at #27 though by selecting Devin Lloyd. The linebacker from Utah is incredibly athletic and is amazing at getting in the backfield, after a season where he had seven sacks and 22 tackles for loss! He also had four interceptions. However, making a good pick at #27 doesn’t make their draft much better, when they literally blew the #1 overall draft pick.
Free agency however was really big for Jacksonville. They made some moves to shake things up. They signed Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk to a 4 year, $72 million deal that could be worth up to $84 million. While Kirk was playing a #2 or #3 option in Arizona, he is still a very talented wide receiver. He is coming off of a season where he was 18 yards shy of the 1000 yard receiving mark. However, as the #1 receiving option on this team, more targets will result in more yards and he’ll finally cross that 1000 yard mark.
They also signed a very good offensive guard in Brandon Scherff. The veteran offensive guard with Washington has been a perennial Pro Bowl player. He’s made the last three Pro Bowls and five total in his career. 2020 was his best career season, receiving 1st team All Pro honors. He is a very good run and pass blocker and will help Trevor Lawrence’s development big time! He will also help develop Cam Robinson, who recently signed a three year deal with Jacksonville. The deal for Scherff was a 3 year, $49.5 million deal. They got a great offensive guard for a cheap amount and his deal will end most likely towards the end of his prime.
They also made some other additions like signing Evan Engram on a one year deal. But this team is much more improved on the offensive side of the ball through free agency and improved on defense from the draft. But while this team won’t contend for the playoffs, I think they can have Indianapolis scared about 2nd in the AFC South for a week or two in the playoffs. This team has talent. I think Trevor Lawrence will improve a lot more with these knew weapons to block him and for him to throw to. They also have a particularly easier schedule. But as I mentioned they won’t contend. But they can upset some teams, and make major improvements to try to contend if not 2023, 2024!
My prediction: Jacksonville finishes with 5 or 6 wins, which ranks 3rd in the AFC South. However, I think they upset some good teams throughout the season!
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