The Jacksonville Jaguars have had a tough task in the AFC South since the turn of the new millenium. They had to deal with over a decade of dominance from Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, only to have to deal with another franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck. While the Jaguars haven’t helped themselves much over the last 7 years or so by slowly dismantling the roster into only a semblance of a professional team (thanks Gene Smith), they still haven’t been able to make much of a dent in what’s probably the worst division in football.
Some people had the Jaguars pegged for a big season in 2014, but they might have been a year early. Gregg Rosenthal over at NFL.com recently talked about how Bortles was more impressive than people remembered in 2014, and he continues some of his positivity in ranking the teams in the AFC South. He has the Jaguars at number 3, but they aren’t very far behind the Houston Texans.
"3. Jacksonville JaguarsWhy Jaguars fans can smile: It’s Year 3 of the coach Gus Bradley and general manager David Caldwell regime, and they have steadily re-made a poor roster. They didn’t get all the big names they wanted in free agency — with Devin McCourty and Randall Cobb going elsewhere — but Julius Thomas, Jared Odrick, Davon House and Jermey Parnell were young free agent signings with upside.Thomas is the X-factor here. Blake Bortles needs help badly from his offensive line and his weapons. Thomas is talented, but also could drivePeyton Manning crazy at times. Odrick is a great versatile piece, and House could be a quality starter. The Jaguars projected bigger roles with their free agent signings, paying starter prices to players who weren’t every-down players at previous stops. Caldwell knows he needs to get bang for his buck with this crop, and show his rebuilding project is starting to bear fruit."
As Rosenthal notes, the Jaguars clearly upgraded their roster in free agency, albeit at some exorbitant prices. In reality, the Jaguars overpaying for some of these veterans isn’t really a hindrance given their cap situation. Some of the moves, like signing House and Parnell, are bold because they are projections, but they could end up being extremely savvy if they pay off.
The Indianapolis Colts were one game away from the Super Bowl (granted it was a rather uncompetitive AFC Championship game), but they really aren’t that far ahead of the Jaguars in terms of overall talent. Outside of the quarterback position, the Colts aren’t exactly world beaters.
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