The Jacksonville Jaguars have lumbered through 4 games so far in the 2014 regular season, which means it’s time to take a look at how the first quarter of the season has come along. With 12 games to go, which players are worth keeping an eye on, and who needs to make massive improvements if they want to continue playing through the rest of the season?
We’ll just go ahead and get the obvious one out of the way. Clearly the most important and interesting development to keep an eye on for the rest of the season is rookie quarterback Blake Bortles. As pointed out by Luke Sims, Bortles showed he has all the tools necessary in his first start to become the game-changing quarterback this team has needed since the dawn of the new millennium.
"Bortles stood tall in the pocket, evaded pressure like a pro, and managed to fit in some impressive throws to boot. His ability to feel the pressure and extend plays makes Bortles the an ideal starting quarterback."
If Marqise Lee and Cecil Shorts can stay healthy, Bortles should have plenty of weapons around him to succeed and work on his craft. He should be primed for a big season in 2015, but he’s going to need a lot of help to make this team competitive.
The Defense has some serious issues
By far the most disheartening part of the Jaguars season so far has been the erratic and frustrating play of the defense. At times, the defensive line has looked disruptive and downright dominant, but the secondary and linebacking corp have yielded some enormous plays and it has put games out of reach by the fourth quarter in almost every contest. The free safety position next to Johnathan Cyprien appears to be a huge concern, and the team clearly is unable to cover tight ends regardless of the opposing team’s talent. The linebackers, with the main culprit being Paul Posluszny, have been underwhelming to say the least. It’s pretty naive to say the team is 2 or 3 players away, but it really does appear that only a few bottom-of-the-barrel players are dragging down an otherwise solid defense. We’ll see how the rest of the season plays out, but defense is clearly going to be a focus heading into the offseason.
By the end of the year, the offense could be one of the league’s most promising
I touched on this a bit earlier talking about Blake Bortles, but the Jaguars have a lot to be excited about on the offensive side of the ball. David Caldwell may have found 2 legitimate starting wide receivers in second round pick Allen Robinson and undrafted free agent Allen Hurns, and fellow second round pick Marqise Lee is still an enticing prospect despite not having enough time on the field yet to make a significant contribution. When Ace Sanders comes back, the Jaguars should have a pretty solid rotation of recievers, and that’s without talking about the oft-injured Cecil Shorts.
While Toby Gerhart has struggled so far, second-year player Denard Robinson has flashed enough to warrant some excitement. He appears to be quicker and more decisive in his sophomore season, and he should get more playing time as the season goes along. If the Jaguars manage to find an athletic tight end this offseason, the Jaguars should be pretty scary on offense heading into 2015.