Friday, August 31, 2012

2012 NFL PREVIEW - Jacksonville Jaguars


2011 Record: 5-11-0 (3rd in AFC South) 

HEAD COACH: Mike Mularkey

Key Additions: QB Chade Henne; WR Laurent Robinson; CB Aaron Ross

Key Losses: CB Drew Coleman; WR Kasim Osgood

Offense: Blaine Gabbert enters his second season and will be starting quarterback in Week One this season. Gabbert took over early last year and finished with 2,214 yards passing and twelve touchdowns and eleven interceptions. Chad Henne comes over from Miami and will be the backup.
The Jaguars need to get Maurice Jones-Drew, the NFL's leading rusher in 2011, into the picture. Jones-Drew has been a holdout this summer after going for 1,606 yards and eight touchdowns with a 4.7 ypc average last season.
If the Jags have to go without Jones-Drew, then Rashad Jennings is their guy after missing last year with a knee injury. Jennings ran for over 400 yards in 2010 and is a good compliment to MJD. Greg Jones is once again the fullback.
The wide receivers will have a new kid in town as Justin Blackmon, the team's top draft pick (number five overall) arrives from Oklahoma State to help improve the passing game. The other starter with Blackmon will be free agent Laurent Robinson, who had a big year for Dallas last year, grabbing 54 passes for 858 yards (15.9 ypc average) and eleven touchdowns.
The Jags' leading receiver from 2011, Mike Thomas is back after making 44 catches for 415 yards and one touchdown. Along with Thomas, Jacksonville also has tight end Mercedes Lewis (39 receptions for 460 yards), Chastin West (13, 163, two TD) and reserve tight end Zach Miller.
The offensive line will have Brad Meester at center. The guards are Will Rackley and Uche Nwaneri and the tackles are Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton. Adding depth up front will be Guy Whimper, John Estes, Jason Spitz, Daniel Baldridge and Cameron Bradfield.
Jacksonville struggled to score points last year, compiling just 243 for the entire season while finishing dead last in offense, averaging a paltry 259 yards per game. The passing game was also 32nd in the NFL, gaining just 136 yards per game. The running game was 12th overall, gaining 123 yards per game.

Defense: The Jags' defense was very strong last year, giving up just over 20 points a game while ranking among the top ten against both the run and the pass.
Jacksonville only allowed 313 yards per game, which was sixth overall. The run defense allowed 104 yards (ninth in NFL) and the pass defense finished eighth, giving up 209 yards per game. Jacksonville totaled 31 quarterback sacks and 17 interceptions last season.
Jacksonville's 4-3 defensive scheme will have Jeremy Mincey (eight QB sacks) and rookie Andre Branch (Clemson) at the end positions. The tackles are Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu. D'Anthony Smith, Austen Lane, C.J. Mosley, Corvey Irvin and John Chick will be the backups.
Linebacking is a strength for this team, with Paul Posluszny in the middle. The outside backers are Daryl Smith and Clint Session. Other linebackers include Russell Allen, Kyle Bosworth and Brandon Marshall, a rookie from Nevada.
The secondary will have Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox at the corners with Dawan Landry and Dwight Lowery at the safety spots.
Aaron Ross is with the team via free agency to add depth along with William Middleton, Courtney Greene, Mike Harris, Chris Prosinski and Kevin Rutland.

OUTLOOK: The season begins with a big question mark as the team starts without holdout running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who is the main cog in the offense.
Without MJD, the pressure is on reserve runner Rashad Jennings and second year QB Blaine Gabbert to make the offense go forward. Gabbert should improve in his second season, and better pass protection would help, as the Jags allowed 44 sacks a year ago.
With two decent receivers to throw to, Gabbert should see better numbers in 2012 as Blackmon and Robinson will present downfield threats that weren't consistently there last season.
Defensively, this team should be sound once again, which Head Coach Mike Mularkey would like to see, along with big improvements on offense.
Playing in the AFC South, one of the league's weaker divisions, the Jags know they are not too far from being competitive again. Continued good play on defense and improvement from the offense will go a long way to ensuring that success.
The call for this season is likely a 6-10 record (possibly worse if MJD sits out all year), which should be enough to avoid the basement again, while the Jaguars build for a better future.

Week 1- at Minnesota
Week 2- vs. Houston
Week 3- at Indianpolis
Week 4- vs. Cincinnati
Week 5- vs. Chicago
Week 6- BYE
Week 7- at Oakland
Week 8- at Green Bay
Week 9- vs. Detroit
Week 10- vs. Indianapolis
Week 11- at Houston
Week 12- vs. Tennessee
Week 13- at Buffalo
Week 14- vs. NY Jets
Week 15- at Miami
Week 16- vs. New England
Week 17- at Tennessee

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