We are now only 5 days away from Week 1 of the regular season. For the Jacksonville Jaguars this means it’s time to be ready for the real thing because the Kansas City Chiefs are coming to town and this time the final score matters. Both teams are coming off of dismal 2-14 seasons, along with off-seasons that saw both teams bringing in new head coaches for the 2013 season.
Lets face it the Jaguars are not entering this season with expectations of being a contender. But it would be nice if they were right?Despite expectations and “expert opinions” this is the NFL, any team can beat any team on any given Sunday. Now i’m not saying that the Jaguars will be Super Bowl champs this season, but I do believe that they can post a respectable record in 2013 if they keep a few things in order.
1. Run the Ball. Maurice Jones-Drew is undoubtedly one of the best running backs in the league. He has shown many times that he
can carry the offense when he is needed, and once again he will be needed. Luckily this season MJD is not the lone threat in the backfield, the Jags signed Justin Forsett, and Jordan Todman who was on the roster last season finished the preseason with some very impressive numbers. Also offensive weapon Denard Robinson will be used as a running back at times as well to give MJD a break at times. The nice part about Forsett, Todman, and Robinson is they all bring great speed to potentially take advantage of what will hopefully be worn out defenses after dealing with the power of Jones-Drew.
2. Keep Gabbert Healthy. Whether you like it or not, during the preseason Gabbert established himself as the best option the Jaguars currently have at quarterback. Gabbert beat out Henne with a performance against the Jets that made it appear Gabbert was prgressing a an NFL quarterback.
3. Keep Gabbert Upright. We all have heard about Gabbert’s struggles when faced with defensive pressure. To add to it last season Gabbert’s season ended when he was driven into the ground by a Oakland Raider defensive lineman during a play that should have been blown dead sooner. This season Gabbert had his preseason cut short when he sprained his thumb hitting the helmet of a Dolphin defender with his throwing hand after releasing a pass. In the end no quarterback plays at a consistently high level while under constant pressure from the defense so it is up to the Offensive line to make sure he has time to make a good throw.
4. Rush the Passer. As mentioned before since we have yet to see a NFL quarterback succeed while running for his life in the pocket, so the defense needs to put pressure the opposing QB. This has been one of the biggest problems the Jaguars have faced over the last few seasons consistently giving the opposing quarterbacks way to much time in the pocket. Jason Babin is the only player on the roster who has established himself as a pass rushing threat, however last season and so far during the preseason Babin has struggled to get to the quarterback. In the end sacks would look good and be the best form of pressure, at this point I could settle for more QB hurries at least.
5. Stay Solid on Defense. The Jacksonville defense finished ranked 30th in the league last season. So realistically we are not
expecting to see the 85′ Bears defense. However, while on the field during the preseason this defensive group has looked solid. They were by no means perfect and some players struggled at times. What they did show was what looks like an improvement in the pass rush and the defensive line in general. Rookie cornerback Dwayne Gratz even showed some play making ability coming down with a pair of interceptions during the preseason.
Sunday will begin the 2013 season for the Jaguars and while many people have low expectations for this season, this is a young team. If they do a few of the important things right, this team could end the season with a pretty respectable record.