Jaguars pop up on Rich Eisen’s top-5 sleepers list for the 2022 season

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) at TIAA Bank Field. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) at TIAA Bank Field. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union] /

The Jacksonville Jaguars spent the offseason making changes to their roster and should at least double their win totals from last year. However, Rich Eisen believes they have potential for more and he included them on their list of sleepers for the 2022 NFL season.

Eisen recently talked about five teams that “can make the playoffs and shock people” or at least “flirt with making the playoffs”. Not surprisingly, the Jaguars made the cut and says that not having Urban Meyer as their head coach is a big reason but not the only one.

"We have no idea how good Trevor Lawrence can be. We have no idea how good Travis Etienne can be. We have no idea how good this team could be. Travon Walker, does he look good or what? Does he look good to you? Right, he does, so it looks like maybe he was the right choice and I’m an [Aidan] Hutchinson guy. Never know, right?"

Trevor Lawrence is coming off an underwhelming rookie campaign while Travis Etienne is set to make his professional debut after missing the 2021 season with a Lisfranc injury. On the other hand, Travon Walker has been everything the Jags expected so far.

Eisen went to Michigan, so it’s only fair that he will root for players that went to the same school. That’s why he brought up Aidan Hutchinson, who was at one point seen as a candidate to go Jacksonville at No. 1 but ultimately was drafted one pick later. The other NFL clubs that cracked the list were the Detroit Lions, the New York Jets, and the Minnesota Vikings. Here’s the whole clip.

The Jaguars and trending up after a productive offseason

Analyst Brent Kollmann of The Film Room recently said on social media that after watching Trevor Lawrence’s throws in the preseason, “it’s time for people to slightly adjust their expectations for the Jags this year”, and he’s right.

The Jags are still a work in progress but they could exceed expectations if the baseline for 2022 is six victories. In addition to the moves they made in the offseason, Lawrence has made significant strides since the end of the 2021 season and head coach Doug Pederson’s calmer hand should keep the team focused.

Another thing that could help Jacksonville is that the AFC South is wide open. Matt Ryan is supposed to bring stability at quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts and they still have a handful of franchise building blocks such as guard Quenton Nelson, running back Jonathan Taylor, and linebacker Darious Leonard. However, they seem vulnerable. The same is true for the Tennessee Titans. Running back Derrick Henry is the heart and soul of their defense and he’s coming back from injury, so he could see a dip in production in 2022.

Of course, the Jaguars need to prove they’re better than last year. But they’re trending in the right direction after making several upgrades in the offseason and showing progress in training camp. While it’s hard to see Jacksonville making a deep playoff run, they could catch a few teams by surprise in 2022 and Rich Eisen seems to agree.

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