The Jacksonville Jaguars have been largely irrelevant in the grand scheme of the NFL over the last 4 or 5 years, and most of the blame for that falls on former general manager Gene Smith. At the helm for 4 years, Smith systematically and mercilessly destroyed the Jacksonville Jaguars roster. By the time David Caldwell took over as general manager, the Jaguars had by far the worst roster in the entire NFL.
Owner Shad Khan knew the rebuilding process would take time, and he bought into Caldwell’s three year plan, so far with good reason – Caldwell has done a very good job in his 3 offseasons. The team he took over had the least talent in the league, and now the Jaguars have multiple young players to get excited about.
So heading into 2015, it’s safe to say the Jaguars don’t have the worst roster in the NFL… right?
Pro Football Focus and ESPN disagree, as they ranked the Jaguars as the worst roster in the NFL for the 2nd year in a row:
"32. Jacksonville Jaguars2014 Ranking: 32Top five players: Brandon Linder, Julius Thomas, Sen’Derrick Marks, Jared Odrick, Ryan DavisStarters who should be upgraded: Roy Miller, Chris Clemons, Paul Posluszny, Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, Luke JoeckelAnalysis: The Jaguars have some good players, including Linder, Marks, Odrick and Thomas. Here’s the problem: Two of those four came over in free agency and have yet to play a down for the team, and only Linder makes it into the high-quality grading bracket.The key pieces that were supposed to turn the franchise around — Joeckel, Blake Bortles and Johnathan Cyprien in particular — have all fallen well short of expectations thus far. In Bortles’ case, the team at least knew he would be a long-term project and never intended to start him as a rookie, but the signs were not good in his first year. He will need to make a major leap forward as a sophomore to help the team out."
When you look at the breakdown, it’s hard to argue with PFF’s assessment. Bortles, Joeckel, and Cyprien all graded out poorly in PFF’s scheme, and the team overall didn’t have too many players who graded out positively in 2014.
Still, it’s somewhat odd to say players like Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee need to be replaced considering the small sample size for both of those players. Lee was injured most of the season as a rookie, and Hurns outperformed expectations by a considerable margin.
Joeckel is the real sticking point here, as he really needs to improve in year 3 to give the Jaguars confidence in him moving forward.
While it’s discouraging to see the Jaguars ranked dead last again in this type of analysis, Caldwell’s moves in his first three years at least pass the eye test. Now it’s up to the players like Bortles and Joeckel to develop and become the foundational building blocks this team needs.
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