There he goes again. Last season, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson predicted his team would go undefeated play in Super Bowl 52. His team did not win all their games, but it did come up one step short of playing for a Lombardi Trophy.
"“I think we’re going 16-0,” Jackson said. “I’m callin’ it, 16-0. I don’t think anybody can beat us as long as we stay healthy and do what we’re supposed to do.”"
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Those are bold words to live by, but Jackson’s confidence is refreshing for a franchise that until last season, had not seen the playoffs in a decade. For Jackson, it’s just another motivator for his teammates, none of who think this team will fall short of getting to the Super Bowl if they improve from last season’s 10-6 AFC South division title team.
At the same time, Jackson may have provided bulletin board material for the 13 opponents Jacksonville faces this season. The schedule is tougher with New England, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Dallas and the New New York Giants on the schedule besides the rivals in the AFC South. But it’s the attitude of the roster that makes this prediction almost believable.
There are seven weeks until the NFL season kicks off. Jackson knows he and his teammates will be ready, especially for the rematch with the Patriots, the team that knocked the Jaguars out of the playoffs with a 24-20 loss.
Jackson, who signed a six-year, $85.5 million free agent contract with Jacksonville in 2016 after helping the Denver Broncos to a Super Bowl 50 victory over the Carolina Panthers, knows about what it’s like to play on the NFL’s grandest stage. The outspoken defensive star is a leader in the locker room and on the field and has even come to the defense of his quarterback Blake Bortles on more than one occasion.
Jackson had eight sacks last year and was named to the 2017 Pro Bowl with five other Jaguars players. He came to camp this offseason in the best shape of his career, which could mean he is in line for an even better year in 2018.
As long as the Jaguars continue to prove doubters wrong, Jackson and his teammates will continue to predict their future. While it may be unlikely for this team to get through the 2018 season unscathed, at least one Jaguars star believes it can happen.