The Jacksonville Jaguars should be glad the Browns are around, or else the Jags would be the laughingstock franchise in the NFL this decade. Will anything change for Jacksonville in 2017? Here are my projections for the team’s likely results.
The Jacksonville Jaguars finished 3-13 last year, their sixth straight season winning five or fewer games. Entering the 2016 campaign, Gus Bradley was the NFL betting favorite to be the first coach fired. He was canned after a 21-20 loss in Houston in Week 15 with the club at 2-12. Bradley was a ghastly 14-48 during this three-plus-year tenure. His .226 win percentage was the worst in the Super Bowl era among coaches with at least 50 games on their resume. The previous worst was Cincinnati’s David Shula, who was 19-52. Some guys are simply made to be coordinators – Bradley is one again -- and not head coaches.
There was some talk this offseason that the team might bring back Tom Coughlin as head coach. Instead, the Jags chose to name Doug Marrone as the guy after the team went 1-1 under him after Bradley’s firing. Coughlin was brought in as executive vice president. He is the only head coach in franchise history to post a winning record as the team was 68-60 under him. Coughlin, 70, was the franchise's first head coach when the Jaguars entered the NFL in 1995. He guided Jacksonville to the 1996 and 1999 AFC Championship Games during his eight-year stint with the team. Marrone was the Bills' coach in 2013 and 2014, going 15-17 -- including Buffalo's first winning season in 10 years in 2014 (9-7). The he inexplicably opted out of his contract, apparently thinking he was a hot commodity. Instead, he only landed a gig as the Jags’ offensive line coach before the 2015 season.
This team has some intriguing talent, especially on defense. There are some nice pieces on offense as well in receivers Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns. Expect Jacksonville to be a run-heavy club in 2017 after the drafting of LSU running back Leonard Fournette with the No. 4 overall pick. He’s the early +350 favorite to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Jaguars think Fournette can do for their offense what Ezekiel Elliott did for the Cowboys’ in 2016, although Dallas’ offensive line is far superior to Jacksonville’s. As usual, this team’s fortunes rest solely on inconsistent quarterback Blake Bortles. He regressed in a big way last year, and this might be his last chance to prove he’s an NFL starter.
As usual, the Jaguars lose one true home game this season as they play a game each year in London. Many believe that franchise will eventually move there. Jags owner Shad Khan also owns English Premier League club Fulham.
The TV networks don’t have much love for the Jaguars as they don't have a Thursday night or Sunday night game, meaning they will not play a game in prime time for the first time in franchise history.
Jaguars 2017 Win Total At SBR’s Top Sportsbooks: 6.5
Capper’s Projected Record: 7-9
Jaguars Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, at Houston, 1 p.m.
It’s the first time that the Jaguars open a season against Houston. As noted above, Bradley’s final game was at NRG Stadium in that 21-20 Week 15 loss last year. Houston is -4 on NFL odds for this one. LOSS
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17, Tennessee, 1 p.m.
These teams have managed to split the season series every year since the Titans won both games in 2008. Jags won 38-17 in Week 16 at home last year. WIN
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24, Baltimore, 9:30 a.m.
This is the London game at Wembley Stadium. Maybe the Jags should move to the U.K. as they have won two straight there. LOSS
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1, at NY Jets, 1 p.m.
The Jags opted to not have their bye week following the London trip. Jacksonville leads the regular season series against the Jets, 6-5. WIN
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8, at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
The Jags’ last playoff win? That would be 31-29 at Heinz Field on Jan. 5, 2008, in the wild-card round of the playoffs. LOSS
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15, Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.
The Jags are 1-3 all-time vs. the Rams, winning in L.A.’s only trip to northeast Florida on Oct. 18, 2009, when Josh Scobee made a 36-yard game-winning FG in overtime. WIN
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 22, at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.
The Jaguars haven't won at Indianapolis Indy since Sept. 23, 2012, and have lost four in a row at Lucas Oil Stadium. LOSS
Week 8: BYE
The last time the Jaguars’ bye week fell during Week 8 was in 2015.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5, Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
These teams haven’t met since 2014 and the Jaguars have dropped the past four in the series. WIN
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12, Los Angeles Chargers, 1 p.m.
Jacksonville is 2-7 all-time against the Chargers. The Jags lost in San Diego 38-14 in Week 2 last year. They crossed midfield only six times and committed three turnovers. Bradley is now the Bolts’ defensive coordinator. WIN
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19, at Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Jacksonville is 11-5 all-time vs. the Browns. Since I can’t see Cleveland going 0-16, I guess I have to give the Browns one victory. LOSS
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 26, at Arizona, 4:25 p.m.
These teams have split four all-time meetings, with Arizona taking the past two. It’s only Jacksonville’s second trip to the desert. LOSS
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3, Indianapolis, 1 p.m.
The Jags have never beaten Andrew Luck at EverBank field. In three games there, Luck has led the Colts to three routs by a combined score of 108-30. WIN
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10, Seattle, 1 p.m.
Bradley had been Seattle’s defensive coordinator before being hired as the Jags’ head coach. The Seahawks won the last meeting 45-17 in 2013. LOSS
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17, Houston, 1 p.m.
Jacksonville lost at home to Houston 24-21 in Week 10 last year. Bortles had a terrible interception that was returned for a TD. WIN
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 24, at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m.
It’s the Jaguars’ first-ever game at Levi’s Stadium. They are 3-2 in games played in Christmas Eve. LOSS
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, at Tennessee, 1 p.m.
It’s the fifth time in Jaguars history that they finish with back-to-back road games. They lost 36-22 in Nashville last year on Thursday night. LOSSBet On NFL Futures At SBR’s Top Sportsbooks