Hall-of-Fame voter Adam Schein surely became very popular among Jacksonville Jaguars fans after speaking highly of second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence. However, they might not like where Schein sees their favorite team finishing this upcoming season.
In his latest column for NFL Media, Schein prognosticates the pecking order of the AFC in 2022 and he sees Jacksonville finishing at No. 13, just above the New England Patriots, the Houston Texans, and the New York Jets. Similarly, he has the Buffalo Bills at the top and the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 2. Schein believes Lawrence will outplay fellow quarterback Mac Jones and thinks that running back Travis Etienne will have a “monster debut season” after missing his rookie campaign. Moreover, he likes the team made on both sides of the ball.
"I still believe Trevor Lawrence trumps Mac Jones. And I think Travis Etienne, who missed the entire 2021 season with a Lisfranc injury is going to have a monster debut season. Say what you want about Christian Kirk’s contract, but he’s an upgrade in Jacksonville — and he’d be WR1 in New England. The Jags boosted the offensive line this offseason, most notably grabbing Brandon Scherff in free agency. Meanwhile, the defense beefed up on the open market (LB Foye Oluokun, DT Foley Fatukasi, CB Darious Williams) in the draft."
While that’s a positive assessment of the current state of the Jaguars, it wasn’t enough in Schein’s eyes to have them take a higher spot in his projection. Then again, it would be hard to justify placing Jacksonville ahead of teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs (No. 9), or the ´Tennesse Titans (No. 10).
The Jaguars have taken steps this offseason but have a long way to go
There’s a scenario in which the Jaguars go from one of the worst teams in the league to one of the best due to the arrival of head coach Doug Pederson, the presence of Trevor Lawrence, and all the additions they made this offseason. Nevertheless, this kind of turnaround doesn’t happen on a yearly basis. The Cincinnati Bengals pulled it off last season and they got the spotlight precisely because it’s not as common as it seems. Jacksonville did it back in 2017 but came crashing down the following year.
When looking at the Jaguars in 2022, it’s better to temper expectations. Sure, they should be able to double their win totals, be more competitive and lose a few close games to the best teams on their schedule. Schein rightly praises the changes they made this offseason and has them moving up a few spots in the AFC after finishing last in 2021. On the other hand, he’s aware they have a steep hill to climb. Heck, Pederson himself acknowledged this isn’t a one-year project and although they’ve taken and will continue taking steps in the right direction, the Jags still have a long way to go.
The Jaguars should be commended for being aggressive in free agency, trying to acquire as many talented players as possible. They were also bold in the draft, selecting defensive tackle Travon Walker instead of the more polished Aidan Hutchinson. And while all the moves Jacksonville made in the offseason have the potential to pay dividends, they won’t find out until the NFL season starts. For that reason, you won’t see many analysts ranking the Jags high.
Schein, like other analysts, like the changes the Jaguars made in the offseason but also recognizes that there are currently better teams in the AFC and both statements can be right.