Jaguars 2019: The Ebb and Flow of the AFC South
By David Levin
The Jacksonville Jaguars may have gained some traction on the AFC South this weekend by virtue of Andrew Luck’s retirement but let’s not get too excited just yet.
The look of the AFC South changed on Saturday night as the news spread that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was calling it a career. In an instant, once the Colts star confirmed what had been leaked, the tide turned for the Colts and improved the Jacksonville Jaguars chances to win the division for the second time in three seasons.
Luck’s retirement does change how the NFL landscape plays out and makes the team that was consistently thought to be a top-10 team this season a bit shaky. The Jaguars may have the best pure passer in the division now in Nick Foles, and the debate over which signal-caller remaining is the best the AFC South has to offer will become a bit more heated.
At the present time, I think the quarterback rankings should look like this: Foles, Deshaun Watson of Houston, Marcus Mariota of Tennessee and Jacoby Brissett of Indianapolis. Perception is everything. Watching Foles on a consistent basis may skew my thought process, as it would with others who cover the three other division opponents.
What Luck’s decision also does is make this a tighter race for the division title and the playoff picture even before the season begins. The Jaguars should have a better offense in 2019. Even slightly better quarterback play and a stinging defense should help them run toward the top this season.
Yes, that was also a play on words to incorporate Leonard Fournette in this conversation.
Head coach Doug Marrone talked to the media on Sunday afternoon and spoke about Luck’s announcement Saturday night.
"“I know his dad, and I know how difficult it is. I know how difficult this game is and I know how great of a competitor he is,” Marrone said. “I felt [that] it was unfortunate that injuries take a part of it and I’m sure it must have been very, very difficult for him. Just a loss for the game.”"
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Yes, a loss for the game we all love. The Jaguars have played against two of the best quarterbacks to ever wear a Colts uniform in Luck and Peyton Manning. And while neither is in the league as of now, preparing for Brissett is another beast altogether. He is not the same player who faced the Jaguars twice in 2017 and was sacked 10 times in one game and chased around the field in the other.
Things got a whole lot more interesting in the division. But let’s not proclaim this to be the Jaguars division to lose. There are still holes to fill and work to be done on this roster. If anything, it gave Marrone and his coaching staff another player to scheme for on defense. If the Jaguars can do the same things on that side of the ball as they did in 2017, it goes a long way toward winning the AFC South.
If Brissett proves to be better and more effective, then the Jaguars have more problems they must address during the season.