After finishing 3-14 in 2021, the Jacksonville Jaguars have started yet another rebuild. While general manager Trent Baalke remains in place, the organization filled the head-coaching vacancy left by Urban Meyer with Doug Pederson, who helped the Philadelphia Eagles win the first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Pederson alone won’t be able to turn things around though. That’s why Baalke made significant upgrades to the roster in free agency and will continue to load on talent in the 2022 NFL Draft.
There’s no doubt the Jaguars are in better shape than they were last offseason and optimism is at its highest due to the presence of Pederson and second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Nevertheless, there’s still plenty of work left to be done before Jacksonville becomes a viable playoff team. For the time being, here are three realistic expectations for the 2022 season.
1. The Jaguars’ defense will rank 21st in points allowed.
While the Jaguars did a good job of stopping the run early in the 2021 season, they allowed 100 rushing yards or more in seven of the last nine games. That’s why they signed defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi, linebacker Foyesade Oluokun, and defensive end Arden Key. All of them should fortify Jacksonville’s front seven and make it difficult for opposing teams to run the ball.
The Jags’ defense ranked seventh in passing touchdowns allowed but that’s because opposing offenses didn’t need to throw the ball. If the run defense improves in 2022, expect teams to pass more often. Still, they should give up fewer points than last season, when they surrendered 457, good for 28th in the league. Also, the Jags should be able to rack up more than 32. In fact, 40 seems like a fair amount when you take into account that they will most likely take Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson with the first overall pick in this year’s draft. The former Wolverine will join a defensive front that includes Key, Josh Allen, and Dawuane Smoot.
2022 final expectations: 19th in total yards and 21st in points allowed.