After disappointing both fans and analysts alike in 2016, the Jacksonville Jaguars are once again building momentum this offseason.
For a team that hasn’t won more than 5 games since 2010, the Jacksonville Jaguars have received quite a bit of respect over the last several offseasons. That doesn’t mean much come the regular season, as evidenced by the team’s incompetence in terms of wins and losses, but it’s still interesting to track.
Once again, the Jaguars are garnering a considerable amount of praise during the offseason cycle thanks to some high-profile additions.
Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye, and Leonard Fournette are all slated to start and play huge roles in the coming season. With three new high level starters, the Jaguars should be much improved over their pathetic 3-13 record from 2016.
Not everyone is buying in however.
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Marc Sessler over at NFL.com went to bat for the Jaguars last year, but he isn’t falling for it again according to his recent piece:
"Yes, the defense has a chance to make waves. Second-year cornerback Jalen Ramsey is a star in the making, and the line looks stout, with Calais Campbell paired next to Malik Jackson. Cover man A.J. Bouye was another solid free-agent addition for a unit hoping to see young edge rushers Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue continue to grow. The pieces are there, but many of these same pieces utterly failed to mesh under previous coach Gus Bradley. Is Doug Marrone the guy to flip the switch?I struggle to believe in Jacksonville’s rise to power until we see major changes at the quarterback position. After such a hopeful start to his career, Blake Bortles was a mechanical disaster in 2016, leading to another predictable round of trope-oozing offseason reports about the 25-year-old passer “pretty much correcting” his faulty throwing motion. Those words came from newly installed football czar Tom Coughlin, but I need to see it on the field before buying into the Jaguars. It’s just as likely that Jacksonville heads into next offseason looking for new answers under center."
I think the key component to the analysis is at the end of the first paragraph – Doug Marrone might end up being the most important piece of the 2017 season.
I have to always remind myself to include this variable into my analysis of the Jaguars heading into this season – they are no longer under the direction of the worst head coach in the history of professional footbal.
Yes, Blake Bortles will ultimately decide how far this team goes, but Marrone’s steady hand could get everyone else on the roster to perform up to their potential. That alone should bring the Jaguars back to relevance and make their hype justified.