Jacksonville Jaguars special teams unit showed growth in 2015
The Jacksonville Jaguars 5-11 record is undoubtedly disappointing when reviewing how the 2015 season played out. With Andrew Luck effectively out for the year and the rest of the teams in the division lacking talent in multiple areas, the Jaguars choked with multiple 4th quarter leads and failed to stop opposing offenses on a consistent basis.
Underwhelming defense aside, one still has to concede that the team made strides in certain areas. The offense is the most obvious candidate in that regard due to the monumental improvement of Blake Bortles and the weapons around him on offense.
An underrated, and perhaps unexpectedly so, facet of the 2015 Jaguars was the special teams.
Yes, Jason Myers was the ire of fans after missing entirely too many extra points, but that’s only one aspect of special teams.
When you take into account special teams as a whole, the Jaguars were actually helped quite a bit by that side of the ball. So much so that Rick Gosselin ranked them 3rd in the NFL in 2015.
"The league’s 32 teams are ranked in 22 categories and assigned points according to their standing – one for best, 32 for worst. The Baltimore Ravens finished with the best special teams in the NFL this season with 231 points, followed by the New York Giants (271.5), Jacksonville Jaguars (295) and Cowboys (310.5)."
Not only did the Jaguars have a terrific special teams unit in 2015, but they improved more than any other team from 2014.
"The 23-place jump by the Giants wasn’t even the greatest improvement by a single team. The Jacksonville Jaguars finished 27th in special teams a year ago but leapfrogged all the way to No. 3 this season. The Jaguars were helped along by rookie Rashad Greene, a fifth-round pick out of Florida State, who led the NFL in punt returns with an average of 16.7 yards."
As Rick mentions, the biggest reason for the Jaguars special teams ascension was Rashad Greene. We didn’t really get a good idea of how much Greene was going to be contribute early on because he was placed on injured-reserve with designation to return, but he was a playmaker when he made it onto the field.
Greene played an integral part in winning one game (the blowout against the Colts) and probably won another one outright (the Thursday night game against the Titans) with timely, explosive punt returns.
For the first time in probably the history of the franchise, the Jaguars have a reliable and dangerous guy fielding punts.