New regime hopes to change culture
HC G.Bradley, LB G.Hayes,
CB M.Trufant, CB A.Ball,
LB D.Smith, CB D.Cox,
CB A.Ross, OT E.Britton,
CB R.Mathis, FB G.Jones
Blaine Gabbert is out of excuses.
The 23-year-old QB will enter the year with two huge talents bookending his protection unit up from; a trio of receiving threats in Marcedes Lewis, Cecil Shorts, and Justin Blackmon (although Blackmon will miss the first four games of the year to suspension); and a top running back to take the pressure off the running game.
Gabbert will have the opportunity to be successful in 2013, which is of course only if he beats out Chad Henne and wins the opportunity to be successful this season.
Whoever starts at QB for the Jacksonville Jaguars this season figures to be the weak spot on offence, and getting anything productive out of that position figures to be new head coach Gus Bradley’s biggest task. Bradley will have his first-year fate tied to either Gabbert or Henne.
Entering his third year in the league, Gabbert has looked like anything but the 10th-overall pick he was in 2011. In his 10 starts before landing on the Injured Reserve with a forearm injury last season, the Missouri product threw for just 1,662 yards in leading a lacklustre Jacksonville passing attack.
The positives were Gabbert improving on his rookie completion rate (only 50%), and throwing more touchdowns than interceptions (9:6). Still, with young QBs around the league lighting it up from the start, seeing Gabbert struggle through his first two years isn’t a good sign for Jags fans.
The alternative may not be that much better, if at all, in Henne.
After four so-so years in Miami, Henne signed upstate last year and saw action in 10 games, including six starts. His numbers across the board were as unimpressive as Gabbert’s, throwing for a little more than 2,000 yards with 11 touchdowns to 11 interceptions and a 53.6% completion rate.
Regardless of who wins the battle, Jacksonville’s quarterback situation figures to be one of the most untenable in the league; a shame considering the rest of the offence looks to have the makings of a solid unit.
Picking second overall, Jacksonville selected Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel, giving the team two offensive tackles to be excited about for this year. Eugene Monroe, in the last year of his rookie deal, has been a strong left tackle his whole career and will once again man that spot in 2013, pushing the highly touted Joeckel to the right side for his rookie campaign.
The inside of the line isn’t as impressive but does boast veteran centre Brad Meester and guard Will Rackley, a starter in his rookie season last year.
Entering his eighth year with the Jags, former Pro Bowl tight end Marcedes Lewis leads a decent receiving corps that could be better than decent if quarterback play improves. The 29-year-old’s past two seasons have been hindered by that inconsistent QB play, but he showed signs of developing chemistry with the team’s signal callers last year, recording 540 yards and four touchdowns.
Lewis will be flanked by two promising young starters at receiver, Shorts and Blackmon. Shorts came close to eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark and caught seven touchdown passes in his sophomore season despite playing in only 14 games. The 25-year-old was 21 yards shy of breaking Jacksonville’s seven-year streak without a 1,000-yard receiver, tied for the longest active streak with Oakland.
Blackmon quietly had a strong campaign last year as well. The 23-year-old had 865 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie and if it wasn’t for his four-game substance-abuse suspension to start the season, would also have a chance at hitting 1,000 yards receiving.
And then there’s MJD.
The Jaguars got a huge boost when Jones-Drew entered training camp fully healthy. The three-time Pro Bowler lost more than half of last year with a foot injury, rushing for just 414 yards and one touchdown in six appearances. Prior to last season, Jones- Drew averaged more than 1,300 yards rushing and nearly 10 touchdowns a year as a starter. The 28-year-old should still have some gas left in the tank for this year and if healthy, approach his 2009-11 numbers once again. (-Ben Fisher, TSN.ca)
Bradley brings his brand of defence to Jacksonville
The Jaguars defence finished third-last in the league in 2012 and have made a handful of moves in the off-season hoping to shore up the unit.
On the defensive line, Sen’Derrick Marks’ addition could allow former high draft pick Tyson Alualu to move to defensive end where he would likely be more effective. Former 18-sack man Jason Babin will start at the other end and while he likely won’t recapture his Pro Bowl form at 33, is still an effective pass rusher.
AFC SOUTH PROJECTIONS
Division Winner once again
Lose tiebreaker, miss playoffs
Need to find a quarterback
Time to upgrade on defence
The team also brought in some fresh faces in the secondary, most notably veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant and second-round safety Jonathan Cyprien. At 32-years-old, Trufant isn’t the corner he once was and hasn’t played a full season since 2010. His worth to Jacksonville may come as a veteran leader for the young players on defence; players like Cyprien.
For the first time in a decade Daryl Smith won’t be in the middle of the team’s linebacking corps. The 31-year-old signed with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in the off-season after being a mainstay in Jacksonville since being drafted in the second round way back in 2004.
Paul Posluszny, entering his third year with the Jags, now becomes the veteran leader for Jacksonville’s linebackers and will be flanked by Geno Hayes and Russell Allen.
There isn’t a ton of reasons to think Jacksonville will make a marked improvement on their 2-14 campaign of a year ago. Bradley could be an improvement over one-and-done Mike Mularky, the light could go on for Gabbert (or Henne), and the defence could make strides with the new personnel. And while all three of these things should happen to an extent, it’s unlikely they will enough to make the Jaguars a player in the AFC South this season. (-Ben Fisher, TSN.ca)
Special Teams: K J. Scobee, P B. Anger, KR J. Todman, PR J. Shipley
Special Teams: K J. Scobee, P B. Anger, KR J. Todman, PR J. Shipley
Fantasy - By The Numbers
Even coming off an injury-shortened 2012 season, RB Maurice Jones-Drew is easily the most appealing Jacksonville player for fantasy owners.
Get ready for the fantasy season with the latest from TSN.ca.
Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE | DEF
Fantasy Schedules: AFC | NFC
2013 Auction Values: Cheat Sheet
Fantasy Depth Charts: AFC | NFC
Jones-Drew led the league in rushing in 2011 and was still good for 4.8 yards per carry in limited duty last season.
The passing game remains a mess, unless QB Blaine Gabbert makes a quantum leap forward. With second-year WR Justin Blackmon suspended for four games, WR Cecil Shorts is the most valuable part of the Jaguars' passing game, after putting up 774 yards and five touchdowns in his last nine games.
Pass-rushing DE Jason Babin, who ranks third with 37.5 sacks over the last three seasons, and MLB Paul Posluszny, the only player in football with at least two sacks and two interceptions in each of the last two seasons, have high-end fantasy value as defensive players. (-Scott Cullen)