Welcome back to another edition of ‘The Super Bowl Race In The Perspective Of Chase’, a close to daily NFL article previewing your favorite teams season! The Jacksonville Jaguars went from the worst team in the league to a division winner in the span of one season last year, and now they’re one of the most intriguing teams in the league. After a 3-7 start that turned into a divisional round appearance, is there a possibility Jacksonville could get the number one seed. Even more crazy, is there a way they win the Super Bowl?! Here is everything you need to know about the Jacksonville Jaguars going into 2023!
It has to be answered: How will Calvin Ridley play after a year of absence?
This time last year, the Jaguars had the number one pick, and they used it to select Travon Walker. Never in a million years would I have thought they would have accomplished this much! The whole team starts with 2021 #1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, who improved substantially from his 2021 campaign. Lawrence threw for over 4100 yards, 25 touchdowns, just eight interceptions, and completed over 66% of his passes. He cut his 2021 interception percentage in half, and doubled his touchdown percentage. In fact, Lawrence had the third best passer rating for a qualifying starter in the final seven games of his season. Lawrence has solidified himself, already, as one of the best in the game under center!
The rushing attack–which cut ties with their 24 year old former 1,000 yard rusher James Robinson–was led by 2021 draftee but rookie Travis Etienne, who ran for over 1,100 yards and five touchdowns with 5.1 yards per attempt. In the receiving game, first year Jaguar Christian Kirk totaled over 1,000 yards, while Zay Jones was right behind with 823. 766 yards for their tight end Evan Engram–a career high for him–and his 380 yards in his final five contests were the most by any tight end in that time span.
Defensively, Jacksonville had three players with at least 115 tackles, which included Foyesade Oluokun’s league leading 184 tackle campaign. Devin Lloyd, Andre Cisco and Tyson Campbell all grabbed three interceptions, and Josh Allen (no not the Buffalo one), had seven sacks. While Jacksonville did rank 24th in yards allowed per game, they did rank 12th in points allowed per game and improved significantly throughout the season.
The postseason included a 27 point comeback, the largest in postseason history, against the Chargers and a slight loss IN KANSAS CITY and the eventual Super Bowl champions. A 3-7 team…did that! Very impressive. But there is just so much to be excited about when you look at this Jacksonville team. They now are going to play like contenders because of their performance last season, but are yet still getting better.
They improved to the offensive line by drafting Oklahoma tackle Anton Harrison 27th overall, and tight end Brenton Strange and running back Tank Bigsby were both also good pickups. In the offseason, they didn’t really do much, but their main piece of excitement going into the season is Calvin Ridley, whom they acquired mid-season from the Atlanta Falcons. And Ridley is an interesting player. Because he’s always been considered a good prospect, and then finally broke out in 2020 into a 1300 yard receiver. In 2021, he suffered from injuries and played just five games, and averaged just 56 yards per game. And last season, he was suspended entirely for betting…against Jacksonville!
But can he add value to this team? Can he come in and really help this offense reach new levels? I think so! It is going to be interesting, because Ridley’s played just five games in two years, so like we saw with Deshaun Watson last year, the rust will probably be there. But if he can get rid of the rust, he’s in an offense where he’s the number one receiver next to other good options with a quarterback that is one of the better ones in the league. I think the sky is the limit for Ridley. But just as a warning for Jags fans, there is a possibility he never shakes off the rust. However, I don’t see that happening!
Overall, I am very excited for this upcoming year. I think Trevor Lawrence is exceptional. I think the defense is only getting better. I think Etienne is very good. And as you can tell, I am high on their receiving game with Ridley, Kirk, Engram and Jones. I like all of them this coming year. The division is there’s to lose, and I don’t think they’re losing it. It’s going to get interesting, because Jacksonville could very well win the AFC and heck win the Super Bowl. There just in a really competitive conference.
Prediction: Jaguars win the division, finish with the 4th seed, but don’t go past the divisional round!
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