The Jacksonville Jaguars are in the 2nd year of a rebuild under general manager David Caldwell, and the prevailing thought is the franchise won’t be ready to compete for a playoff spot until 2015. Former GM Gene Smith left a very bare cupboard as far as talent on the roster and it was clear the front office needed a few drafts to restock.
Several moves made this offseason, specifically the drafting and quick development of Blake Bortles, has given some analysts enough bravery to predict big things for the team.
Will Brinson over at CBS Sports went through the best and worst-case scenarios for each AFC South team, and his positive outcome is spearheaded by Blake Bortles.
DREAM WEAVER: OH MA GOD THAT’S BLAKE BORTLES’ MUSIC. Bortles overtakes Chad Henne in such impressive fashion Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley have no choice but to start him. Luke Joeckel and Zane Beadles begin to turn into one of the better blindside protection combos in the game and Marqise Lee/Allen Robinson start to make Duval forget about Justin Blackmon. Dwayne Gratz and Johnathan Cyprien lead a surging secondary.Toby Gerhart quietly waltzes to 1,200 rushing yards. Seven wins sounds disappointing after all that, but the future is bright.
While Brinson seems to cap his optimism at 7 wins, I think the Jaguars could eke out 9 wins if everything goes as well as he points out above, especially if Blake Bortles continues to play the way he did in his first two preseason appearances.
The worst-case scenario is fairly predictable, revolving around the team struggling at quarterback again.
ARMAGEDDON: Bortles isn’t ready, Lee won’t hustle, Gerhart gets hurt and the offensive line can’t even protect for Henne, who ends up starting the entire season despite the team not, you know, winning anything. The defense is still good and 2015 is attractive, but it feels very far away with everyone in the cabanas demanding to watch RedZone instead of the winless Jaguars in Week 6.
I think the Marqise Lee “hustle” storyline is a bit overplayed, and head coach Gus Bradley backed off his recent comments, but Brinson hits the nail on the head. The Jaguars are going to go as far as their quarterback – hopefully Bortles – will take them. If the Jaguars can’t get the passing game going, it’s possible they are down around 5 wins again.
– Daniel Lago