After a 5-11 season and a misfortune of bad offense and injuries, is the Jacksonville Jaguars a last place team in 2018, the one that could surprise us all?
When asked to talk about the eight teams that finished last in their divisions in 2018 and the potential for them to rise from the football ashes to make the playoffs in 2019, two of the three NFL insiders picked the Jaguars to get back to the postseason.
"“How short our memories have become,” writes Jeremy Bergman. “Just 16 months ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars were running it up on the Killer Bs … in Pittsburgh. Just eight months ago, the Blake Bortles-led Jags had the look of AFC favorites after stomping Tom Brady’s Patriots in Week 2. Now, Jacksonville has swapped out Bortles for a Super Bowl MVP under center, and it still has most of the key pieces from its suffocating 2017 defense, even after the surprising news about Telvin Smith.”"
The Jaguars made other changes to their roster in addition to the decision to cut ties with Bortles after five seasons and now have a hole at weakside linebacker to fill in the absence of Smith, who told the team earlier this month he would not be playing the game in 2019.
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The offensive line is healthy once again and added Jawaan Taylor to play right tackle. The move to bring in edge rusher Josh Allen could prove to be a genius move by Executive Vice-President Tom Coughlin and general manager David Caldwell.
The Jaguars finished 5-11 last season but lost five games by six points or less. The majority of the defense is still intact, where three starters must be replaced from last year. At the end of the day, the offense looks better by having Nick Foles under center and a healthy Leonard Fournette in the backfield.
"“Too many people are sleeping on my friends down in Duval County, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now, obviously last year didn’t go as well as they would have liked after their run to the AFC Championship Game the previous year (Myles Jack wasn’t down, TBH). The Telvin Smith news was a bit unexpected,” adds Adam Rank.“But the Jaguars are still one of the most talented defensive teams in the league. They somehow landed edge rusher Josh Allen seventh overall in the draft. And, I’m not sure if you heard about this, but they signed Nick Freaking Foles. It’s the biggest signing for the Khan family since it inked Chris Jericho to AEW (just trust me on this). I fully expect the Jaguars to be back in the playoffs this season.”"
I love it when Rank inserts a wrestling reference in stories about the Jaguars. It makes me think everything is going to be alright.
The Jaguars still had a top-five defense last season, but it was not as dominant a unit as a whole. The offense went from a top 10 unit two seasons ago to averaging just over 15 points a contest. The fertile mind of John DeFilippo as the team’s offensive coordinator should add some punch in the passing game while still emphasizing the running attack.
"“I do think a lot of people are sleeping on the New York Giants, but I won’t be a homer. Instead, I’ll take the Jags. One year removed from an AFC title game appearance, Jacksonville had a stellar offseason — minus the Telvin Smith news,” Shaun O’Hara explained.“Quarterback Nick Foles makes this offense a completely different unit than when it was headed by Blake Bortles, bringing an air attack that can be as good as the run game.”"
The Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets were also mentioned as teams that could surprise us all in the upcoming season.