The Jacksonville Jaguars continue to generate buzz in an offseason filled with excitement.
With the 2016 NFL draft (and off-season) finally in the books, Jaguars fans and foes alike must admit to being impressed with the organization’s ability to transform the team in a relatively short time.
Last season, the Jaguars had one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL – with the throwing ability of Blake Bortles, combined with the dynamic duo of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. Their running game was sub-par – hopefully the acquisition of Chris Ivory from the Jets will help things.
On the other hand, their defense ranked nearly dead last in points allowed, resulting in a loss in several winnable games. Shahid Khan, David Caldwell, and the front office have been very aggressive this offseason in pursuing free agents, as a result.
They signed the No.1 sought after defensive free agent, Malik Jackson. They also got Tashaun Gipson, a safety, out of Cleveland and Prince Amukamara, CB from the Giants. That was phase one.
Phase two has been even bigger. In the 2016 draft, the Jaguars got the highest rated player in the whole draft, Jalen Ramsey. In a stroke of luck, they were able to pick up Myles Jack (who dropped due to health concerns), and next year they will also get Dante Fowler Jr. back from injury.
It is easy to see that the Jaguars defense has improved in a big way. In a previous column, I wrote that 44 points less by opponents would have earned them a trip to the playoffs last year (and I also predicted the Ramsey pick!). With all this new help on defense, this looks to be a given, going into next season. In fact, the Jaguars ranking in defensive points scored may even increase, helping them to win key games against the powerhouse teams that before would be easy losses.
As Gregg Rosenthal (Around the NFL Editor) puts it, “the Jacksonville Jaguars will not be a ‘sleeper’ pick…anything short of a winning record would be a disappointment.” Yes, he is absolutely right. I will be picking them to win the division with a 10-6+ record.
The other AFC South teams are now on high alert.