EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 15th of 32 preseason previews in 32 days leading up to the NFL season opener Thursday, Sept 5.
Win total last 5 years: 27
LVH over/under wins (5)
First-year head coach Gus Bradley has his work cut out in taking over a franchise that went 2-14 a year ago and has only three winning seasons since 1999.
So will Bradley be the Prince, or merely another pauper? The betting line would probably be that he rides out of town in a little red corvette within three years.
The Jaguars do have MJD – Maurice Jones Drew – but you wonder how long the standout running back will continue to be the face of this franchise.
Clearly new Jaguars GM David Caldwell has to get the fan base back and give QB Blaine Gabbert more weapons besides Jones-Drew, who missed the last nine weeks of 2012 with a broken foot.
A possibility is wide receiver Justin Blackmon, but they won’t have last year’s top draft pick for the first four games due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Help could also come from ex-Michigan QB Denard Robinson, who will be tested at RB/slot receiver and another rookie Ace Sanders (WR, South Carolina).
Defense is now the responsibility of new coordinator Bob Babich, who has to find a way of improving the league’s worst (20) sack total. The Jaguars also ranked 30th out of 32 teams in stopping the run.
Athlon Sports did give Jacksonville a B grade in the draft, which also included the second overall pick in Texas A&M right tackle Luke Joeckel. The 6-6, 306-lb Joeckel should make Gabbert feel a bit more comfortable in the pocket.
That said, Gabbert by no means is considered a franchise QB and needs a big year to convince management that he’s the answer to a position that been a weakness for a number of years.
The schedule the first five games is decent – Kansas City, Oakland, Seattle, Indianapolis, St. Louis. For a team used to losing, obviously a good start is mandatory.
LVH projects the OVER / UNDER season win totals for the Jaguars at 5, lowest of any NFL team. That’s three wins better than 2-14. So either Jacksonville is going to improve or you have one heck of an UNDER play.
Friday: Kansas City Chiefs
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].