The Jacksonville Jaguars are contenders and are set up for a playoff run


After a solid first half of the season, the Jacksonville Jaguars have set themselves up to win the division and make a real playoff run.

As they prepare for the second half of the 2017 regular season, the Jacksonville Jaguars have to feel pretty good about their current situation.

While they are probably frustrated about the manner in which they lost 3 of their games earlier in the year, they are set up well as they get ready to take on the fledgling Cincinnati Bengals. They have arguably the easiest schedule in the league over the last 9 weeks, with contests against bottom feeders like the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, and the Indianapolis Colts.

Even with the questions at quarterback, it’s hard to argue against the validity of the Jaguars as real playoff contenders.

Adam Schein over at looked at which teams are contenders as opposed to pretenders, and he’s buying in on the Jaguars.

"Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3)Talked to Doug Marrone during the Jaguars’ Week 8 bye on my SiriusXM Radio show, “Schein on Sports.” He would NOT take the cheese on Jacksonville accomplishing anything yet. That’s vintage Marrone. But the head coach did tell me that he really likes this team.Free-agent acquisition Calais Campbell has been the most impactful defensive player in the NFL this season. Marrone acutely values the 31-year-old’s domination and leadership — and why wouldn’t he? Just seven games into his Jaguars career, Campbell’s already set a career high for sacks in a season (10). He’s a humble giant, too. In the studio with us on CBS Sports Network during his bye week, Campbell heaped praise on the Jags’ secondary and called Jalen Ramsey the Defensive Player of the Year. I think Ramsey and A.J. Bouye comprise the best corner combo in the league today. All in all, the Jaguars’ defense is superb. And consider the offensive lines they’ll match up with over the next eight games: Bengals, Chargers, Browns, Cardinals, Colts, Seahawks, Texans and Niners. Sacksonville indeed!Yes, Blake Bortles scares me. He’s just not very good at football. But so far, the Jags have minimized his impact on the game, thanks in large part to bell-cow rookie Leonard Fournette. Despite missing Jacksonville’s Week 7 game with an ankle injury, the bruising back is still tied for the NFL lead with six rushing touchdowns — and averaging a robust 4.6 yards a pop.When you play defense and run the ball like this — and are this well-coached — you are for real."

Schein makes sure to take the time to dump on Blake Bortles a little bit amidst the praise, but he also touches on an important point – the Jaguars have been coached extremely well this season.

I’ve been more than willing to direct a majority of the blame for the ineptitude over the last four or so seasons at former head coach Gus Bradley, but it was always hard to think he was the only problem.

It turns out, he might have been.

The Jaguars are certainly more talented than they were last season, but we’re seeing almost every player on defense excel, including the carryovers from the Bradley regime.

Doug Marrone is running a tighter ship and it’s paying huge dividends thus far. The team has an identity on both sides of the ball – they are bullies. That’s an identity that can take you far in the NFL, particularly when you have the athletes to back it up.

Circling back to Bortles – now that the trade deadline has passed, we know this team is riding Bortles through the 2017 seasons. Schein explicitly says Blake is “just not very good at football,” and he’s mostly right. Blake usually is not very good at football. He’s had two outstanding games this seasons and the rest have been just average or downright clunkers.

If, and it’s a big if, Blake can tone it down on the poor outings – this team is dangerous.