Despite the 3-13 finish they had the year prior, the Jacksonville Jaguars gave their fans plenty of reason to hope and be optimistic about the 2015 campaign. Quarterback Blake Bortles was coming off a bad statistical rookie season, but he was spending a majority of his offseason working on his craft and the flashes he did have in 2014 were promising. The team appeared to have intriguing options at receiver with Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson, and Marqise Lee. Telvin Smith was a revelation at outside linebacker and Aaron Colvin looked like a legitimate starting cornerback by the end of the season.
The 2015 offseason only added fuel the fire when the team added Julius Thomas and a handful of other big free agents.
To follow that up, general manager David Caldwell used the 3rd overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft on the best defensive prospect – defensive end Dante Fowler Jr.
By all accounts, the Jaguars had a great offseason – one that would ultimately would be impossible to live up to.
Mike Sando over at ESPN looked back at how he perceived the offseason moves by every team then and how they turned out in a recent piece. He gave the Jaguars a lower grade, but with some caveats:
"Offseason grade: B+First-round pick Dante Fowler Jr. and veteran tight end Julius Thomas were the big-ticket personnel additions for Jacksonville last season. Both got hurt. Neither factored as anticipated, which means Bill Polian’s comments from last offseason might still apply: “They are in a situation where everything goes wrong all the time, but they are working hard enough that their luck will change.” Bringing back former quarterbacks coach Greg Olson as offensive coordinator and adding to the offensive personnel panned out. The Jaguars jumped from 32nd to 14th in points scored and from 31st to 21st in offensive expected points added per game. If only they could have realized similar gains on the defensive side of the ball.Re-grade: C+"
I probably would have given the Jaguars an A or B last offseason and it’s hard to blame them for injuries to their two biggest acquisitions. As Polian says, the Jaguars have to have fortune favor them at some point. Losing your first round pick during the first practice of minicamp is about as brutal a loss psychologically as it is physically.
The bright side is we know Caldwell is capable of having effective and productive offseasons in terms of luring high-profile players to Jacksonville.
Hopefully all of the players signed this offseason make it to week 1 of the regular season.