Where do the Jacksonville Jaguars rank after the 2018 season?
By David Levin
After a season of failed expectations and missed opportunities, where does FanSided’s Russell Baxter rank the Jacksonville Jaguars?
Depending on what preseason publication you read, the Jacksonville Jaguars were amongst the top five NFL teams going into 2018. The beginning of the season was nothing like the middle or the end as the franchise most insiders thought would challenge the New England Patriots for AFC supremacy faltered after a 3-1 start.
In his end-of-the-season rankings, Russell Baxter of FanSided ranked the Jaguars 29th in the NFL. It’s hard to disagree with Baxter’s assessment of Jacksonville, which won a total of five games and fell into the abyss of a seven-game losing streak.
"“Doug Marrone’s club won half as many games as it did in ‘17 and returned to the AFC South basement for the second time in three seasons and the fourth time since 2008,” Baxter wrote. “After showing a year of progress in terms of taking care of the football, quarterback Blake Bortles slowly digressed in this area and was eventually sat down in favor of Cody Kessler.”"
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The play under center has been a sticking point since Bortles was drafted with the third overall pick in 2014. While he improved last season after a disastrous 2016, the 2018 version was a significant regression of his ability to move the football down the field in 2017.
There are other reasons for the free-fall the Jaguars suffered this past season, as Baxter explained.
"“Injuries to second-year Leonard Fournette and disappointing play from the offensive line resulted in the league’s top-ranked ground attack in 2017 sliding to 19th. And Jacksonville’s talented and big-play defense lost its opportunistic touch.”"
The defense finished 5th overall in the NFL but was not as dominant as it was. It figures to look a bit different next season. Barry Church was cut before the end of 2018. Malik Jackson figures to be released. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and safety Tashaun Gipson could also be cap casualties.
The Jaguars must reshape their roster for financial reasons defensive end Calais Campbell will be back in 2019 but could be asked to restructure his contract to free up cap space. The same could be said for Dareus, Gipson and possibly cornerback A.J. Bouye.
While I believe injuries hurt this franchise and helped to cripple the offense, the coaching staff is also responsible for a lack of game planning to give the team a spark. The Jaguars scored just over 15 points a game in 2018 compared to over 24 in 2017.
A change will do this team good as it heads into free agency and the NFL Draft.
"“By all indications, the team will look for a new starting quarterback. There has already been a change at offensive coordinator with the January hiring of John DeFilippo, cut loose by the Vikings late in the season. Marrone’s team could also certainly use some help at wide receiver and tight end,” Baxter wrote."