Oddsmakers have the Jaguars’ win total at 6.5. They have not exceeded 5 wins since 2010. In 2017, expect the Jaguars to rediscover some winning tendencies from the past.
The Jaguars’ most recent success came under the leadership of current Oakland Head Coach Jack Del Rio. Del Rio was focused on two things: pounding the rock and stopping the run. The Jaguars aimed to dominate possession, wear down the opposing defense, and allow their defense to get as much rest as possible. They were tough and could compete with the best. When Del Rio left in 2011, the Jaguars didn’t just lose a good head coach. They lost an identity on both offense and defense. They also lost a winning culture—the belief and expectation to win and the experience of achieving victories. The problems continued in the front office. They wasted draft picks on busts that nobody has ever heard of and they overpaid older free agents who were complacent with a flattering contract and mediocrity. As soon as Doug Marrone arrived in Jacksonville at the end of last season, things started to change. We saw signs of the old Blake Bortles who threw for over 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2015. The Jaguars whooped a playoff-caliber team in the rival Titans and almost beat the Colts on the road to end the season. The Jaguars were on the cusp of changing.
Doug Marrone is the man to bring a winning culture into Jacksonville. He never became a Superbowl Champion. But the point is that he has experience going to awful franchises and making them into winning teams. In 2009, Syracuse won 3 games. When Doug Marrone arrived there, they won 4. After he had enough time to gather the kind of recruits that fit into his system, they won eight. In January 2014, Marrone started in Buffalo. After a busy offseason, they finished 9-7 under his leadership and earned their first winning season in 10 years.
Marrone knows how to turn losers into winners. He also has the tools to do so. The Jaguars know what kind of team they want to be and they are collecting the pieces to create that team. They brought back Tom Coughlin, who had preceded Del RIo, and, in 1996 and 1999, brought them to within a game of the Superbowl, to become executive vice president of football operations. The two-time Superbowl champion coach is enforcing a more disciplined and organized approach and attracting crucial players. The Jaguars want to run the ball and stop the run. They drafted former LSU star Leonard Fournette to join Chris Ivory and TJ Yeldon in the backfield. They have a trio of running backs to dominate possession in the way that they did in the Del Rio years.
While it is partly true that the Jaguars acquired Fournette in order to take pressure off of Bortles, different media outlets are overstating this point. Criticism of Bortles is overstated. For one, everybody seems to say that Bortles cannot win on the road. While it is true that Bortles is only 2-20 on the road, the poor road record is not necessarily his fault. In fact, his career passer rating is almost 10 points higher on the road. When people question whether Bortles is the right guy for the Jaguars, they focus on what he did under Gus Bradley last season and forget what he did in 2015 and in 2016 after Marrone’s arrival. In Week 16 against the Titans, he threw for 325 yards, a touchdown, and a 103.5 passer rating. That was like the Bortles who impressed everybody throughout 2015. Critics still say that Bortles will not have time to pass due to his offensive line. Actually, Bortles was sacked a career-low amount of times in 2016. His number of sacks went down from 51 in 2015 to 34 in 2016. The Jaguars’ offensive line took the heat for the poor rushing attack that put too much pressure on Bortles to perform.
Defensively, the Jaguars already gained respect last season. They finished 6th in yards allowed especially thanks to their 5th-ranked pass defense, which was anchored by standout rookie Jalen Ramsey and will be helped by former Texans’ star cornerback AJ Buoye, against whom quarterbacks in 2016 had a well below-average passer rating when they threw in his direction. The key for the Jaguars’ offseason has been to establish a stronger rush defense and pass attack. Their biggest step was to sign defensive end Calais Campbell from Arizona. His impact in Arizona is not necessarily recorded in the stat sheet nor in complaints of being snubbed from the 2016 Pro Bowl roster. In a relatively injury-ridden defensive group, he was very effective in doing the very things that the Jaguars need more of. His biggest help will likely come from Dante Fowler Jr., the rookie whom the Jaguars drafted in the First Round of the 2015 Draft. He finished 2016 on a strong note—with 1.5 sacks in the last 2 weeks. Another meaningful boost will come from the linebacking corps, which Marrone is reorganizing in order to utilize the speed of Myles Jack, whom the Jaguars drafted last season in the second round.
Jack will need to gain experience in the middle linebacker position. But his team also faces a soft test offensively in Week 1—the Texans. Overall, the Jaguars have one of the easiest schedules, which features the Rams, Jets, 49ers, Browns and Chargers— five teams who won 5 games or fewer and finished last or second-to-last in their respective division. They face the Steelers, who they have a very positive history against, and should be able to manage at least two wins from division rivals. And we are already up to 8 wins, with other very beatable opponents on the schedule. The Jaguars have a solid passing attack in play which is supported by an underrated offensive line and a budding trio of running backs. They have a solid pass defense which will be supported by an improving densive line and a talented corps of linebackers that is growing in experience. And possibly most important of all, they are led by a Head Coach who has proven multiple times that he knows how to turn losers into winners, and by Tom Coughlin, who knows how to make the Jaguars into winners. 8 wins is very realistic for this team on our NFL Picks.Free NFL Pick: Jaguars Win Total ‚Over‘ 6.5
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For Other Analysis On The Jaguars Check the Following Articles:Jacksonville Jaguars’ 2017 Schedule Analysis & Betting PredictionsJacksonville Jaguars 2017 Game-By-Game Predictions & Win Total Pick