Optimism abound about the home team in Jacksonville, and why wouldn’t there be positivity heading into 2015? The Jaguars spent big this offseason and brought in high quality veterans in their prime and general manager David Caldwell finished up his third draft with the franchise, receiving high praise all around for his selections.
Some tentativeness is understandable however, as the Jaguars have only accrued 7 wins in head coach Gus Bradley’s first two seasons. Most of that can be attributed to an unprecedented roster overhaul and a historic amount of youth throughout the team, but it’s still makes sense to want to wait and see this team come together on the field before buying in.
The folks over at ESPN are doing just that, as they aren’t buying in at all. They ranked the Jaguars dead last in their 2015 NFL Future Power rankings – a comprehensive score ranking based on roster (30 percent), quarterback (20 percent), draft (15 percent), front office (15 percent) and coaching (20 percent).
"32. Jacksonville Jaguars2014 record: 3-13 (3rd in AFC South)AFC South future rank: 4thOverall score: 53.2The overview: The Jaguars commanded accolades in recent years for taking a long-term view toward rebuilding, but how much better are their prospects? Jacksonville fell from 10th to 19th in drafting — the second-largest drop for any team — and 13th to 27th in front-office, which tied for the second-largest drop. Their non-QB roster held steady at 31st. Optimism for Blake Bortles remains muted, as reflected in the Jaguars’ No. 27 ranking in quarterback outlook (down one spot from a year ago). –Mike SandoThe dilemma: Bortles reportedly spent the offseason working with biomechanics guru Tom House to address the deterioration of his game during his rookie season. These changes are somewhat easy to implement in the offseason, but the real test comes once the regular season begins. Players typically revert to their instincts when under pressure, and the Jaguars staff cannot afford for Bortles to struggle again. They need to win, and win now. –Louis RiddickThe youth movement: The Jaguars can’t catch a break. Dante Fowler Jr., the third pick in the draft, would have been the best player on their roster, but he blew out his ACL and is done for the season. They thought they had the answer at wide receiver in Justin Blackmon but he has spent more time on the suspended list than he has on the field. Jacksonville is in the vicious cycle of drafting players, losing 11-13 games and ending up without any players worth signing to a second contract. General manager Dave Caldwell may end up getting as many as 10 starters from the 2013 and 2014 drafts, but they have a long way to go before the Jaguars find themselves in the playoff hint. –John Clayton"
If it hasn’t been made clear enough, the guys at ESPN don’t exactly think highly of second year quarterback Blake Bortles. There’s not too much one can do to argue their stance however, especially if you just look at Bortles standard and advanced metrics from his rookie year – he was easily the least efficient quarterback in the NFL. Context is important however, as Bortles played with as many as 7 rookies on the offensive side of the ball and played from behind more often than not.
Bortles is clearly a question mark moving into the future, but it’s hard to fault Caldwell with the rest of the roster. The Jaguars are better at essentially every position from when he took over, it’s just a matter of waiting and seeing how much better these young players can be. It’s disappointing to see the Jaguars ranked dead last in yet another piece like this, but at the end of the day, who cares. Let’s see how the Jaguars do on the field in 2015.
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