It’s time to start believing in the Jacksonville Jaguars

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 22: Chris Conley #18 bows to teammate Keelan Cole #84 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 22: Chris Conley #18 bows to teammate Keelan Cole #84 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars 2020 season may not be as bad as many of us think it will be.

Finally, someone else besides myself who has written a story that gives the Jacksonville Jaguars a shot at being at least mediocre this season. Thank you, Sayre Bedinger for your story here on NFL Mocks, which outlines how this team has changed its roster, but it does not mean the organization has officially begun its “Lose for Lawrence” campaign.

While you have already read my analysis of the Jaguars 2020 season, where I pick them to win five games, it’s more about the growth of this team than it is about the lack of talent that must still develop over the next season or two. Had it not been for the work the front office – meaning general manager David Caldwell – has done this offseason, then the belief of a lost season would be more than apparent by this football franchise.

And unless a team actually lies down in the middle of the field for 60 minutes on Sunday’s, it’s pretty hard to tank an NFL season. During these hard times on the banks of the St. Johns River, there is a plan in place to improve a defense that was as porous as swiss cheese last season and revitalize an offense that lost its way many times during the 2019 campaign.

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While it appears I am continuing to harp on the possibility of a winning or successful season, I’m in the minority as national media members have been tearing this franchise down from goal post to goal post this offseason.

"“The Jaguars had spent the last year trading away or cutting their top talent, including star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, defensive linemen Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, and Malik Jackson, cornerback AJ Bouye, quarterback Nick Foles, wide receiver Marqise Lee, safety Tashaun Gipson, and plenty of others,” Bedinger writes.“The number of changes made to the Jaguars’ roster was staggering and considering many of those players were catalysts to the team reaching the AFC Championship game just a couple years ago, it felt like Jacksonville was clearly positioning themselves for a player like Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 NFL Draft.”"

The Jacksonville Jaguars did not make the splash moves in free agency that made every NFL team take notice, but they did address holes in their roster and fortified depth at key positions. This is not a Super Bowl contending roster – yet. But the same thing was said prior to the 2017 season – where it was discussed amongst the media members inside TIAA Bank Field.

Instead of asking if Tom Coughlin knows something the locals don’t, it’s time to ask if Caldwell, who is under the gun to show progress with his job on the line, has a Magic 8-Ball we haven’t seen yet.

Not only did the Jacksonville Jaguars add a decent free-agent class, but it also brought in solid players in the NFL Draft who could unseat veterans for playing time. When you win just 11 games in two seasons, it’s hard to say every starting spot is filled. And unless you are Gardner Minshew, Leonard Fournette, or DJ Chark, you may not have walked into the 2020 offseason program without worrying about where you stood on the depth chart.

"“Minshew looks like he has the moxie and skill set to be an effective starter at the NFL level, and the Jaguars have some intriguing young talent in addition to their 2020 NFL Draft class,” Bedinger added.“Pass rusher Josh Allen looks like he’s going to establish himself as a star rather quickly in the NFL, leading the Jaguars with 10.5 sacks. As of right now, Yannick Ngakoue can either join him or sit at home with no paycheck in 2020, and if he plays, he gives the Jaguars a very nice bookend of rushers.”"

And the linebackers look better with Joe Schobert on the roster and the Myles Jack experiment in the middle over with. A move to a 3-4 defense will free up players who can swarm to the football. And Tod Wash can hopefully change the direction of the interior defensive line and run defense. It was as bad as a horror show last season.

Minshew got some cool toys to play with this offseason in tight end Tyler Eifert and rookie wide receivers Laviska Shenault Jr. and Collin Johnson. Dede Westbrook is in the final year of his rookie deal and will be playing for a new contract. The offensive line, everyone holds hands and says a prayer, should be better with greater depth as well.

It’s a recipe for another surprise season in North Florida, with the results not being what they were three seasons ago, but still a solid showing. Even Bediger believes the team is closer to making a playoff run than earning the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

And with the two first-round picks next season – the one acquired from the Los Angeles Rams – there is plenty to like about this team moving forward. More of the national media may catch on and follow the same path.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, even with the growth this season and a better AFC South division, should be an interesting study. The pundits will still spin their tale of a team looking to tank a full NFL season. But looking at what has happened in the last three months, I see it as progress. Now, it’s time to show it on the field, win or lose.

The team’s front office may have already written the end of the story to this coming season. We haven’t read it yet, but there is a chance it could be both a thriller and a best seller. We just have to wait to see how it plays out.

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