Jacksonville Jaguars: Three BOLD predictions for the second half of the season
After a 3-5 start and too many disappointments to speak about, how will the Jacksonville Jaguars reverse their field in the second half of the 2018 season?
The season is not over for the Jacksonville Jaguars. If history means anything, this is a team that still has a chance to make the playoffs. After that, it’s anyone’s guess about what could happen next.
The 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars were 3-6 before the team went on an epic run to get to 9-7 and make the playoffs as a wild-card team. After beating both the Buffalo Bills and the Denver Broncos to reach the AFC Title game, the team bowed out to the New England Patriots (UGH!) 20-6.
This is a team that might be quicker and more talented on both sides of the ball. And given the state of the NFL and the fact that anything can happen on any given Sunday, Jacksonville still has a chance to make some noise in the final eight games of the season.
I’m not the only one who believes things can change over the course of the next two months. Calais Campbell took to his Twitter account, explaining how he is determined to turn things around once the team returns from the bye week.
There is plenty of work to be done, as head coach Doug Marrone stated in his meeting with the media on Monday. He and his coaching staff will work to make the necessary changes to win more games in the second half of this season. The rest is up to the players and their ability to change to rise up and accept the challenge.
Here are three BOLD predictions for the second half of the 2018 season.
Blake Bortles does commit a turnover – I’m swinging for the fences with my first prediction. No other quarterback has been as maligned as Blake Bortles. Some of it is warranted. Some of it is because the parts around him have not performed up to expectations.
The fifth-year pro has thrown for 2,021 yards and 10 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He can do better. He should do better starting next week against the Indianapolis Colts. Bortles must take better care of the football, but more importantly, must not do too many things on his own to try to win football games.
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Bortles played his best football last season when the team needed him most in the playoffs. Maybe the sense of urgency is what makes him more focused. But there is a reason he did not turn the ball over the three playoff games. There is a reason he looked like an All-Pro against Pittsburgh and New England.
Playoff Blake Bortles could be in motion come Nov. 11 and beyond.
Three defensive shutouts – The defense gave up 114 points in the four losses before the bye week. They must do a better job of shutting teams down. The run defense must improve. And even the vaunted secondary must work to play tighter in coverage.
"As John Oehser of Jaguars.com wrote, “The defense showed Sunday against Philadelphia it can create pressure and turnovers early in games. If the defense can turn that into points, then maybe …”"
This is not rocket science. You cannot expect the Jaguars defense to play the same kind of bullying football as it did last season. But there is an expectation that things can be better. Defensive coordinator Todd Wash must figure these things out and put together a scheme that attacks the quarterback and stops the run.
What has been used isn’t working right now. Other teams have figured out to beat this defense. There is too much talent for this team to struggle as it has. Look for this unit to play better and hold teams down and get off the field quicker.
Jaguars win seven games in the final eight to secure a playoff berth – This is where the “us vs. the world” mentality kicks in.
For the entire season last year, whether it was Yannick Ngakoue, Abry Jones or Myles Jack, the Jaguars took on an identity of a team that no one respected, no one gave a chance. Now, they have been given that chance and they have not lived up to those expectations.
It’s possible this roster will play with a chip on its shoulder and become the team everyone thought it would be. I can see the rest of the schedule set up where they are chasing Houston for the division lead and catch the Texans on the final week of the season.
A lot has to happen to make that dream a reality. Leonard Fournette is expected back for Week 10 against the Colts. That’s a start to making major changes on the offensive side of the ball.