The Jacksonville Jaguars made a slight improvement in terms of overall production in 2015, but they were still a pretty bad football team. Blake Bortles and the offense made enormous strides, increasing their point per game average by a staggering 7.9 points (15.6 to 23.5) and setting passing game records left and right.
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Unfortunately, the positives on the offensive side of the ball were outweighed and overpowered by the continuous decline of the defense. Without the services of their first round pick Dante Fowler Jr., the Jaguars had absolutely no pass rush and consequently could not stop opposing passing attacks.
The Jaguars have plenty of time (and copious amounts of cap space) to try and fix the defense this offseason, but for now the team doesn’t look any different than the one that failed to take advantage of a horrific AFC South in 2015.
With that in mind, it should come as no surprise the Jaguars are rather low in ESPN’s too-early 2016 power rankings:
"29. Jacksonville Jaguars2015 record: 5-11Voting results: 123 pointsWhy they’re here: 5. 2. 3. 4. 5. Those are the last five seasons of win totals in Jacksonville. With that kind of a track record, selling “On the cusp” is becoming more and more difficult. The Jags saw their young QB grow by leaps and bounds in 2015, and have legit star power at wide receiver, but the offense’s step forward was mirrored by a defense that got worse in 2015, and that’s in a division where they faced a rookie QB twice, Andrew Luck got hurt, and the Texans had, well, the Texans’ QBs.What could change: First-round pick Dante Fowler Jr. would have helped the defense at least to the extent you count on rookies, and will be back in 2016. The Jags can also shop all they want, with a whopping $70-plus million in cap space. What really needs to change is young players need to keep improving on both sides of the ball, and the defense becomes competitive again."
I have no problems with the Jaguars being ranked this low, for now at least. To be honest, this power ranking might be even more meaningless than the mock drafts people put out in the preseason.
While most teams won’t make dramatic changes, there are a handful of franchises with enormous amounts of money to spend (Jaguars and Raiders) or plenty of high draft picks who can add enough playmakers to change their fortune. The Jaguars are almost assuredly going to sign a few high-profile free agents and they have the 5th overall pick. Almost all of the acquisitions the Jaguars will make are likely going to be assets to the defense.
I have a feeling the Jaguars will be ranked a little higher than 29th come week 1 of the regular season in 2016.