Monday, August 11, 2014

2014 NFL PREVIEW - Jacksonville Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS                                      

2013 Record: 4-12-0

Key Additions: DL Chris Clemons; RB Toby Gerhart; OL Zane Beadles; DL Red Bryant; DL Ziggy Hood.

Key Losses: RB Maurice Jones-Drew; QB Blaine Gabbert; RB Justin Forsett; OL Uche Nwaneri.

HEAD COACH: Gus Bradley

Offense: The Jaguars had one of the worst offenses in the NFL last season and will have Chad Henne (3,241 passing yards with 13 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season) back at quarterback or perhaps talented top rookie draft choice Blake Bortles, who was the third overall pick in the NFL draft out of Central Florida.
The Jags will have two rookie wide receivers ready to contribute as they selected both Marqise Lee (USC) and Allen Robinson (Penn State) in the second round. Along with the youngsters are Ace Sanders and Cecil Shorts, who led the team in 2013 with 66 receptions for 777 yards and three touchdowns. Sanders caught 51 passes for 484 yards and one score. Former top pick Justin Blackmon is suspended by the league and there is no timetable for his return after multiple violations for substance abuse. The tight end is Mercedes Lewis, who had 25 receptions for 359 yards and four touchdowns in just ten games played.
The running game was weak last year, and this year does not have Maurice Jones-Drew, who opted to play in Oakland this season. So it will either be Toby Gerhart (free agent from Minnesota who ran for 283 yards and scored two TD last year) or Jordan Todman (256 rushing yards and two TD) as the starting halfback this season.
The line has Mike Brewster at center, tackles Austin Pasztor and Luke Joeckel and guards Zane Beadles and rookie Brandon Linder (Miami-Florida) up front.

STATS - Jacksonville finished 31st in the league in total offense (294 yards per game) with an atrocious running attack that was also 31st overall, gaining only 79 yards per game. The passing game averaged 215 yards, which was good for 22nd overall. The team was dead last in scoring (247 points) with an average of just over 15 points each game. The O-line must be better at pass protection as Jags' quarterbacks were dropped 50 times last season. The Jags turned the ball over 27 times in 2013.

Defense: Chris Clemons (4.5 QB sacks) and Red Bryant both come over from the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks and will be the ends in the 4-3 set this year with Sen'Derrick Marks (four QB sacks) and Jordan Miller at the tackles. Jason Babin led the team in quarterback sacks last year with 7.5 and is ready at defensive end once again this year. Andre Branch (six sacks) is another pass rush specialist up front.
Linebackers Geno Hayes (two interceptions) and Dekoda Watson man the outside with Paul Posluszny (three sacks) playing middle linebacker. Telvin Smith, LaRoy Reynolds and John Lotulelei provide depth at linebacker.
Dwayne Gratz and Alan Ball (each with two interceptions) are the corners while Jonathan Cyprien and Josh Evans are the safeties. Providing depth in the secondary is Will Blackmon, Winston Guy, Chris Prosinski and rookie Aaron Colvin (Oklahoma).

STATS - Jacksonville allowed 379 yards per game (27th in NFL) while finishing 29th overall in run defense, giving up 132 yards per game. The pass defense gave up 247 yards (25th in NFL) each week. Opponents scored 28 points per game against the Jaguars as the team picked off just eleven passes and sacked opposing quarterbacks 31 times.

OUTLOOK:  This appears to be yet another rebuilding year in Jacksonville with the changes in the offensive backfield and possibly at the quarterback position as well. Chade Henne needs to step up and lead the way on offense as the team looks for two new faces to run the ball this year. There is some talent at wide receiver (Cecil Shorts) as well as veteran TE Mercedes Lewis, which provide the passing game with more than adequate targets.
The defense has to improve against the run and get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The secondary was lit up too often last year and getting more interceptions is a priority as well.
Head Coach Gus Bradley should be given the benefit of the doubt this season as the team looks to the future with an interesting mix of youth and experience in the 2014 season, which will likely end with a 3-13 record.

Week 1- at Philadelphia
Week 2- at Washington
Week 3- vs. Indianapolis
Week 4- at San Diego
Week 5- vs. Pittsburgh
Week 6- at Tennessee
Week 7- vs. Cleveland
Week 8- vs. Miami
Week 9- at Cincinnati
Week 10- vs. Dallas (London, England)
Week 11- BYE WEEK
Week 12- at Indianapolis
Week 13- vs. NY Giants
Week 14- vs. Houston
Week 15- at Baltimore
Week 16- vs. Tennessee
Week 17- at Houston

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