Jacksonville jaguars 2019 season preview
By Anthony Wood
2018 was an extremely disappointing year. The Jaguars were nowhere near their best as their locker room full of egos seemed to implode. Combined with a sub-par offense and it was a year to forget.
In an increasingly tough AFC South, the Jaguars finished rock bottom, arguing amongst themselves, falling behind their rivals and finally gave up on quarterback Blake Bortles.
The Jaguars had one gaping hole entering this offseason, and they appear to have solved it. Blake Bortles clearly wasn’t the answer at quarterback for the team and their experiment with Cody Kessler proved to be a failure as well. If nothing else, Nick Foles is a proven NFL starter and will stabilize the ship while rookie Gardner Minshew can be given time to settle and learn behind him.
It was an offseason of big losses combined with big additions. They lost starters like Bortles, Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson to name but a few. But thankfully for Jags fans, they fought fire with fire. They enter 2019 with plenty of new players to bounce back with thanks to a strong draft, such as the likes of offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, tight end Josh Oliver, and defensive end Josh Allen.
Former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles has worked with offensive coordinator John DeFilippo before and so expect them to pick up where they left off. Unlike in Philadelphia, Foles won’t have a standout receiver to work with, in my opinion.
Another question mark surrounding this offense is the run game. Leonard Fournette is an extremely talented back, but he had an awful campaign in 2018. Not only is his behavior questionable at times, but his health is a concern.
Bringing in both Alfred Blue and Ryquell Armstead could prove to be the push Fournette needs to head back in the right direction. If not, then Armstead has landed in exactly the right spot and could get some decent game time.
Tight end has been a position of high turnover for some time now and they will be hoping that Josh Oliver is the guy for the job. James O’Shaughnessy is a solid player and Ben Koyack can hold the fort down as well if Oliver proves to be more of a developmental talent.
However, losing linebacker Smith for the year was a huge loss for the team. While his decision to prioritize his home life is understandable, it leaves the defense with a very big hole to fill and no draft to do it with.
They also failed to address the gap left by Gipson at safety. Their safety tandem is questionable at best and neither safety currently top of the depth chart match the caliber of the rest of their defense. And once again, with talented receivers around them in the AFC South, and quarterbacks like Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson to cope with, that could prove problematic down the line.
Regardless, this defense is still bursting with talent. Allen looks like a star in the making and a perfect heir apparent for Campbell.
There is no denying that the Jaguars are a talented team, more so now than before this offseason. Their defense has the potential to be one of the league’s best, and their offense should take a step forward under Foles.
However, with Colts and Texans looking more like far more rounded teams, and the Titans with some dangerous players too, this doesn’t strike me as Jacksonville’s year.
Unless this offense suddenly takes off under Foles, I predict a third or fourth-place finish in this tight division. He is a good quarterback with an accurate arm. But, he has left the Eagles before and looked little more than average, and I am concerned that this may well happen again without Doug Pederson as his head coach. Minshew is the future of this franchise, but he’s raw.
And don’t forget, they have a relatively tough schedule as well.
RECORD PREDICTION: 7-9
Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Josh Allen)