After a 5-11 season in 2018, SI.com’s Conor Orr picks the Jacksonville Jaguars to be a team that can make the playoffs in 2019.
The Jacksonville Jaguars shocked the NFL world in 2017 by reaching the playoffs after 10 seasons of subpar and mediocre play. In 2018, the team that came up five minutes short of Super Bowl 52 had a dismal season. Now, as 2019 gives this team a chance to make amends, will they once again go from worst to first in the AFC South?
At least one writer, Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated, thinks so. In his latest piece for the website, Orr discussed teams that could make that jump many of us love to read about. Having the Jaguars as part of the chatter falls in line with the enthusiasm we have seen at OTAs and minicamp.
The Jaguars are an improved team even before they reach training camp. New coaches added to the staff and new players added to the roster make this team one to watch for the upcoming season.
"“Each season there is always a handful of fresh faces in the playoffs, often representing the schematic breakthroughs that helped define the season as a whole. Last year, the NFL playoffs featured three teams (Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts) that didn’t have a winning record the year before,” Orr writes."
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"“It will be interesting to see what happens in 2019, as so many teams are now rushing to the middle, stocking up on coaches with experience in the type of en vogue playbooks that were an outlier the previous two years. It opens up a world of possibilities.”"
The possibility of the Jaguars shocking the AFC South is a real possibility because health played a huge role in the demise of the franchise. The offense was decimated at running back, along the offensive line and at tight end. You don’t see that kind of carnage where a team survives the onslaught and has a winning record.
Add the lack of stability at the quarterback position and a change in-season with the offensive coordinator and Jacksonville’s best chess move was to scrap the plan for 2018, rebuild the offense so it is more effective and add missing puzzle pieces that fit the game plan for now and beyond.
The Jaguars are part of a pack of teams which include the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, and New York Jets that Orr sees as potential playoff teams this season. As for the Jaguars, this is what he had to say.
"“For the last two seasons we’ve been imagining this roster with more functionality at quarterback. And while I’ve pressed the pause button on Nick Foles hype multiple times this offseason, even a coordinator with a distant familiarity of his comforts, likes and dislikes is a massive improvement over a barrage of coordinators frantically trying to fix the flaws in Blake Bortles’s game,” he explains.“Like the Giants, Jacksonville is playing in a relatively open division and is layered with veteran talent. Unlike the Giants, so much of their offensive groove depends on a talented young running back who is far more uncertain to produce.”"
We aren’t going to debate between Leonard Fournette and Saquon Barkley. The Jaguars defense is the best of the five teams mentioned. The quarterback situation has breathed new life into the building at TIAA Bank Field.
The AFC South may be a wide-open division, but that does not mean it won’t be highly competitive. The Jaguars must first find a way to beat both Houston and Tennessee – teams that won both contests against Jacksonville last season. The team did split with Indianapolis, losing on the road 29-26 but taking care of business 6-0 on their home field.