You should always expect the unexpected when it comes to the NFL. Teams that look like a surefire contender end up falling short of expectations in the regular season while every year, there’s a club that seemingly comes out of nowhere and makes a deep playoff run. Bucky Brooks of NFL Media believes the Jacksonville Jaguars may fit the latter category in 2022.
Brooks recently talked about eight “chaos” teams in the NFL, one for each division, and he thinks the Jaguars could “upset the applecart” in the AFC South. He argues that even though they have won more than six games in a season just once in the last 11 years, the duo of Doug Pederson and Trevor Lawrence could turn things around in Jacksonville.
"Doug Pederson inherits a former No. 1 overall pick with A+ talent in Trevor Lawrence. Universally hailed as a generational talent coming out of Clemson, Lawrence struggled through a rookie season under disastrous head coach Urban Meyer. The young quarterback clearly needed more structure, stability and support around him. In addition to bringing in Pederson, the Jaguars spent big money in free agency to upgrade their wide receiving corps (SEE: Christian Kirk, Evan Engram and Zay Jones) and offensive line (Brandon Scherff), which should help induce a major jump for Lawrence in Year 2."
Brooks also highlights the moves the Jaguars made on defense and believes that Mike Caldwell’s unit could be a tough one in 2022.
"If the defense quickly adjusts to new coordinator Mike Caldwell’s ultra-aggressive approach, the Jaguars could really emerge as a tough out in 2022."
Can the Jaguars really make a splash in the 2022 NFL season?
Sure, it’s possible that the Jaguars will win their division in 2022 but “possible” isn’t “probable”. There’s a possibility you will win the lottery but that doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to happen. Similarly, Jacksonville has put together a well-rounded roster and taken several steps in the right direction but they still have a long way to go before they can legitimately contend for the AFC South crown or a playoff spot.
Doug Pederson himself said that this won’t be an overnight fix and it’s a good thing he’s setting realistic expectations in Year 1. After all, you don’t want a Jaguars team still in rebuilding mode to have any extra pressure. Having said that, Jacksonville could make the playoffs or win the AFC South if a set of circumstances happen.
First, the Tennesse Titans need to take a step back and that can happen if running back Derrick Henry can’t return to elite form after dealing with injuries last year and Ryan Tannehill can’t carry the offense on his shoulders without him. Similarly, the Indianapolis Colts would need to fail to take a step forward, which isn’t expected due to the arrival of Matt Ryan. Then, there’s the Houston Texans, a team in rebuilding mode that still faces several questions ahead of the 2022 season.
But none of this will matter if the Jaguars can’t take care of business. They made strides in the offseason but they need to start winning football games. They will have several tough matchups in their schedule in 2022, so they will have a chance to find out how good they really are.
The Jags pulled off a few upsets last season and there’s a chance they could have a few more in 2022. Having said that, they should aim for seven or eight wins. It’s a conservative estimate but once they can realistically achieve.