The Jacksonville Jaguars are poised for a big year in 2015, building on a disappointing (but expected) 7-25 record over the past two years.
General manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley are entering their third year in their respective jobs and have something to prove to owner Shad Khan this season. While it is doubtful they are on the hot seat, it’s important that they show progress as they went from four wins in 2013 to three wins in 2014.
A big part of their success will be the players they have brought in progressing. They are rebuilding a roster that was grossly mismanaged under former general manager Gene Smith and have brought in a lot of new talent, but the results haven’t been there yet. Part of that is because some players are performing to expectations. With an even bigger talent influx during the 2015 offseason, there are a number of players who must step up to prove they belong on the team and can be part of the future success.
Here are five Jacksonville Jaguars who must step up in 2015.
Sep 29, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars tackle Luke Joeckel (76) in the first quarter of their game against the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Field. The Indianapolis Colts beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 37-3. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
Luke Joeckel, Left Tackle
Luke Joeckel had a rough start to his time as a Jaguar. After playing right tackle for his first few games, the Jaguars shipped starting left tackle Eugene Monroe off and move Jockel over. He broke his ankle the next game.
While that’s a tough way to start your NFL career, it’s important to note that the set back affected that season and the 2014 season. The first pick under Caldwell and second overall in 2013, Jockel is just now getting up to weight and set to be the physical player he was expected to be. He has been bullied by opposing defensive linemen thus far in his career, and must show that given a proper offseason of preparation he won’t let that happen.
The left tackle position is critical for protecting oft-sacked quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles is the future for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Jockel, perhaps more than anyone, holds the keys to keeping his quarterback upright. If he doesn’t improve in year three, the Jaguars will need to find someone who can man the left tackle spot well or risk turning Blake Bortles into David Carr.
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