The Jacksonville Jaguars have high hopes for the 2018 season. A Super Bowl appearance is a frequent topic for discussion. However there are some areas of concern that need to be addressed.
Planning for the 2018 season requires a look back at the 2017 season. To start, it is widely recognized that the defense was the key to last season’s success. That was great, but every season has new challenges and the Jacksonville Jaguars 2018 season is no exception. The schedule is more challenging, the defense must incorporate two new starters, and finally other teams now take the Jaguars very seriously. Basically the offense needs to step it up in order to ensure at least a repeat of the success of 2017.
Three questions for the offense
Three critical areas that the offense must be address are as follows. First, Blake Bortles needs to step his game up another notch. Next, Leonard Fournette must remain healthy for the majority of the season. Finally the receivers must come together as a unit to provide a healthy passing game.
Bortles must step up his game
To start, I am not what some writers and fans call a Bortles hater. He appeared to play much better in 2017 than he played in 2016. The good news is the coaching staff designed an offense that worked well for Bortles. The bad news is that teams are more prepared for that offense. The prevalent opinion throughout the NFL is well stated by Matt Venderame of FanSided:
"Bortles, 26, is the reason most people simply can’t buy into Jacksonville. Last year Bortles was good enough to keep the team afloat but also wasn’t good enough to push it over the edge."
Does Bortles have a higher ceiling or has he reached the limit of his abilities? He didn’t have a lot of quality coaching his first few years in the NFL. As a result it’s very possible that he hasn’t reached his potential. Let’s hope Bortles will step up to a higher level this season.
Leonard Fournette must remain healthy
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The Jaguars didn’t draft another running back this year. Therefore Fournette is our featured back in 2018. He had an excellent rookie season but did miss time due to injury. Some pundits criticized his 3.9 yards per carry average. However Fournette ran against an eight man front 49% of the time. Kareem Hunt, another rookie, ran against an eight man front less than 30% of the time. To be clear, no other back in the NFL ran against an eight man front as often as Fournette. This sort of constant pounding is not conducive for a long, productive, injury free NFL career. The offensive staff must design plays that don’t run him into a brick wall play after play after play.
The receiving corps must come together
Although Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Marcedes Lewis are gone, Jacksonville has a great deal of potential in our receiving group. In general, the talent level is solid. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a youngish tight end with the possibility of a very good season. Also D.J. Chark has the size and speed to compete for the number one receiver position. The young guns, Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook showed talent last season. Marqise Lee has a chance for a 1,000 yard season as the first option. No doubt there is every reason for optimism.
The biggest IF is Blake Bortles. If he has a higher ceiling, the running game improves and the receivers catch more passes. The Jacksonville Jaguars decided to depend on Bortles. Let’s hope it work out.