Skip to content

Preseason Power Rankings No. 29: Jacksonville Jaguars

Bortles AP

Unlike in recent years, there’s at least reason for hope with the Jaguars in the preseason.

They might be hanging around the bottom of the PFT Preseason Power Rankings, but the arrow is clearly pointing up for them after years of floundering about.

Second-year coach Gus Bradley and General Manager Dave Caldwell have remade the roster rapidly and with a clear plan, and they were willing to not reach last year knowing they couldn’t fix everything at once.

The Jaguars added their quarterback of the future this offseason, but they’re committed to not making him the quarterback of the present until he’s ready.

Along with the steady progress they’ve made building a competitive roster, the Jaguars are more interesting than they’ve been in years.

Strengths.

Bradley made a statement in his first year, getting the Jaguars to a competitive place one side of the ball at a time.

With a solid defense in place, they added parts which should make it even better this offseason.

Bringing in old friends from Seattle such as Chris Clemons and Red Bryant will lend some stability to the defensive line (along with former Steelers first-rounder Ziggy Hood).

They lost a solid starter in linebacker Russell Allen, but with former Buccaneer Dekoda Watson coming aboard, it’s still a fast group.

As their young secondary grows together, it should only get better, and give the Jaguars time to develop on the other side where they need it the most.

Being able to cut a productive veteran like Jason Babin points to the fact the Jaguars think this can be a good group as it stands.

Weaknesses.

For lack of a better word, the Jaguars were painful to watch last year when they had the ball.

And that feels generous.

They’re still in the process of remaking themselves on offense, and kept steady quarterback Chad Henne around to keep a hand on the wheel until Blake Bortles is ready.

The goal is to let Toby Gerhart provide some ballast to the running game. He’s shown enough in glimpses of playing time in Minnesota to make you think he can be a productive every-down player, and that’s what they’re banking on.

They’ll need a productive running game, because their receiving corps is very much a work in progress.

Wide receiver Cecil Shorts has shown game-breaking ability, but he needed help in the worst way. The Jaguars used a pair of second-round picks on wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson, and will need both to contribute right off the bat.

With the offense in a bit of a holding pattern until Bortles makes his inevitable rise, it’s hard to know how much to expect.

But at least there’s a plan.

Changes.

As important as anyone the Jaguars brought in this offseason was their decisions on when to let go.

They made the cold, clinical call to let franchise running back Maurice Jones-Drew walk into free agency, when they easy thing would have been to keep around a player who for years was the only reason to watch them.

Then they cut the cord on former first-rounder Blaine Gabbert, trading the guy they thought would be their franchise passer to the 49ers for a sack of beans.

There was also the tacit admission that they’ll never get anything from wide receiver Justin Blackmon by drafting receivers in bulk.

While it’s easier for a new administration to admit the mistakes of a former regime, getting something of value for Gabbert was a coup, and moving on from Jones-Drew before the inevitable decline was probably good business.

We’ll see if staking the running game to Toby Gerhart was the right decision, but drafting Blake Bortles is the clean slate at the position the team so desperately needed.

Camp Battles.

The Jaguars still have some work to do on defense, primarily finding a free safety.

Winston Guy and Josh Evans shared the role last year, and one needs to emerge. The Jaguars have been consistent giving young players chances, but they’ve brought in some depth to push them as well. Former Panthers second-rounder Sherrod Martin is still young enough to be an intriguing prospect, with the kind of range to have a shot.

The Jaguars also need to settle the middle of their offensive line.

With longtime center Brad Meester retiring and stable guard Uche Nwaneri cut, they’re remaking the interior. Former Broncos guard Zane Beadles was a big-ticket free agent addition, and they’re hoping some other young players are ready to step up.

If Mike Brewster is ready to take over at center, and they can find a right guard with the ability to help the run game, they appear to be moving in the right direction up front.

Prospects.

The Jaguars can get better this year, even if their record doesn’t.

Because the only true barometer of this season will be how it helps Bortles develop into the starter.

If he’s not ready to start the opener, they know they can leave Henne in there and be at least acceptable. But if they can use the time to get the third-overall pick up to speed, they’re better off for it in the long run.

Many thought during the draft season that Bortles was the player with the most upside, the classic drop-back passer frame, and the tools to succeed. But there was also a consensus that he needed some time.

The Jaguars appear willing to give him just that.

The way they pursued last season (knowing they didn’t have a long-term quarterback, and not reaching to get one for the sake of having one) indicates a well-thought-out plan.

Now comes the execution part of the plan, and if they can get Bortles ready, they’re set up to be competitive for years to come.

Permalink 50 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Features, Jacksonville Jaguars, Top Stories
yo

Bills suspend Aaron Kromer for six regular-season games

Kromer Getty Images

Yes, the battery charges against Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer were dropped. No, that doesn’t matter to the NFL.

The Bills have announced that Kromer will be suspended for the first six regular-season games of 2015.

“Over the past several weeks the Bills organization has gathered information regarding the incident involving offensive line coach Aaron Kromer,” Bills president Russ Brandon said in a statement. “Today we have concluded our investigation and the Buffalo Bills will suspend Coach Kromer without pay for the first six games of the 2015 NFL regular season. The suspension will begin on Monday, September 7, 2015 and end with the conclusion of the Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals game on October 18, 2015.

“We worked in conjunction with the NFL on this matter and we are highly supportive of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy that holds all NFL and club employees to a higher standard.

“We look forward to Coach Kromer rejoining the Bills organization at training camp.”

The six-game suspension matches the new baseline punishment for crimes of violence under the Revised Personal Conduct Policy. Even though Kromer ultimately will face no criminal punishment (the charges against him recently were dropped, possibly in exchange for a civil settlement), the NFL applies a higher standard to its employees — along with a much lower standard of proof.

It means, as a practical matter, that the Bills believe Kromer did indeed punch a teenage boy in a beach-chair dispute, under the “more likely than not” test that doesn’t require proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News, the Bills are considering donating the full amount of the money they won’t be paying Kromer to charity.

It’s unclear whether Kromer has waived his appeal rights. Even if he decides to pursue them, it will be very difficult for him to successfully fight the punishment, since he’s not protected by a Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The fact that the Bills imposed the six-game suspension highlights a key difference between a team’s rights against a coach and a team’s rights against a player. Under the Personal Conduct Policy, only the NFL may impose discipline. Also, a franchise’s options are limited to cutting the player or imposing a maximum suspension of four games without pay for conduct detrimental to the team.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dez Bryant takes a swing at a teammate at Cowboys camp

Dez Bryant AP

Dez Bryant’s new contract hasn’t lessened his intensity.

Bryant took a swing at Cowboys cornerback Tyler Patmon at training camp today. The two were first exchanging words on the sideline, and then Bryant reached out and took a shot at Patmon. Other teammates and coaches stepped in and things did not escalate.

According to reporters on the scene, quarterback Tony Romo and coach Jason Garrett both talked to Bryant on the field, and Bryant then went over to Patmon and gave him a hug. Apparently cooler heads prevailed.

It’s a rare training camp that doesn’t have at least a couple of scuffles, so this isn’t a big deal in the scheme of things. Bryant is an intense competitor, and the Cowboys love that about him. Even if he occasionally goes too far.

Permalink 36 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jeremy Mincey ends holdout, Cowboys give him a raise

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

Dallas defensive end Jeremy Mincey has ended his holdout, and the Cowboys have given him the raise he wanted.

The Cowboys agreed to give Mincey a raise of at least $500,000, the Star-Telegram reports.

Mincey engaged in a four-day holdout at the start of training camp and the Cowboys indicated that they weren’t willing to give into his contract demands. But the reality is that Mincey’s holdout worked, and he’s going to make more money this season.

Once Mincey reported, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he was “excited” to have him in camp. And Mincey is excited about earning an extra half million dollars this year.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Martavis Bryant to miss some camp time after elbow infection

Martavis Bryant AP

One of the Steelers’ young prospects is going to miss some camp time after surgery to clear out an infection.

According to to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, wide receiver Martavis Bryant is expected to miss “several days” of training camp after undergoing a “minor procedure” on his elbow.

Of course, procedures for infections are generally most minor when they are on someone else’s elbow.

“He should be back to us sooner rather than later,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “But it will be a couple of days. Making sure that’s behind him. . . .  He had a bump or something on his elbow and it kind of graduated to [surgery]. We just exercised a little caution and got it removed.”

Bryant showed big-play potential last year as a rookie, averaging 21.1 yards per catch, with eight touchdowns on just 26 receptions. Playing for a team that has been able to cultivate its own receiving talent, he could become a significant factor soon, assuming he’s well.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Houston’s goal for Clowney: August 17

Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien looks over practice during NFL football training camp at the Methodist Training Center on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/Bob Levey) AP

As the Texans wait for linebacker Jadeveon Clowney to be ready to practice after his rookie season ended in microfracture surgery on his knee, coach Bill O’Brien has a specific date in mind for his return.

“I would say that the goal is to get him back on the field by about August 17th and then go from there,” Bill O’Brien said Sunday, via comments distributed by the team.

So why the 17th? O’Brien didn’t elaborate.

“I don’t know,” O’Brien said. “We’ll see how he is on the 17th.”

O’Brien is nevertheless optimistic that, come the 17th, Clowney will be ready to go.

“Do I feel confident? Yeah, I’m confident,” O’Brien said. “I’m confident that he’ll be back here on that day. Now, again, come out here tomorrow, you never know, he’s working very hard. But as I stand here today, I feel confident about his ability to be back out there doing something on August 17th.”

The real question isn’t when Clowney will return to practice, but how he’ll play when he gets back onto the field in a game. What started as a torn meniscus when Clowney landed awkwardly on the much-criticized NRG Stadium turf in Week One of his rookie year ended with a surgical procedure aimed at creating cartilage to replace cartilage that is no longer there.

Whether that new cartilage will hold up under the stress of the explosiveness Clowney’s legs generate is anyone’s guess. And no one will know how the knee responds to that until it happens.

Permalink 13 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Carroll on cutting McDaniel: “This decision sucks”

Carroll

Earlier today, multiple reports (including ours) indicated that the Seahawks cut defensive tackle Tony McDaniel for cap purposes following the signing of quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner to new contracts. In discussing the move with the media on Sunday, coach Pete Carroll said nothing to dispute that.

“It is a significant loss,” Carroll said, via comments distributed by the team. “Tony [McDaniel] has been a really good core player for us, and we really liked him and what he’s brought to our club. This decision sucks, but you know we had to do something, and so maybe there’s a chance we can get him back someday, I don’t know how that will work. Unfortunately, that’s what had to happen today.”

With McDaniel gone, Carroll mentioned several guys who have an opportunity to step up in his absence.

‘It’s always about opportunity,” Carroll said. “Opportunity knocked for a bunch of guys on this one. Tony’s done a lot of playing for us. So as has always been the case, we’re heralding these guys as they come through this thing, and waiting to see who’s going to rise up, and we’re looking for it. David King has a chance and of course Jordan Hill has a chance to rise up. All of the fellas in there, [Demarcus] Dobbs, and all these guys have done a nice job to position themselves, and here the competition opportunity presents itself.”

For Carroll and the Seahawks, competition has always been the key. As more and more players who have competed at a high level reap the rewards, others who have competed well will be moving on, opening more chances for others to compete.

It’s a delicate balance that becomes no easier to strike when two key players go from making six figures to making eight figures.

Permalink 27 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Michael Johnson carted from Bengals practice with knee injury

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

The Bengals brought defensive end Michael Johnson back to the team this offseason and now they’re waiting to find out what kind of time he’ll miss after exiting Sunday’s practice on a cart.

Johnson went down during team drills in the practice and held his right knee before trainers arrived to evaluate the injury on the field. Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that a cart was brought onto the field and that Johnson “gingerly wobbled” a few yards to it before sitting on the back to be transported for further examination.

It’s a good bet that Johnson will head for an MRI to determine whether he’s torn any ligaments. If he’s torn his ACL, Johnson’s second stint with the Bengals won’t get off the ground this year, but he could be back for the early part of the season (or before) if it’s a sprain or something else less severe.

Johnson had 26.5 sacks in five years with the Bengals, who drafted him in the third round of the 2009 draft. He signed a five-year deal with the Buccaneers last year, but was released a year after his arrival after a disappointing campaign in Tampa.

Permalink 20 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Chip Kelly says Mychal Kendricks won’t get traded

Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Many of the players who have been rumored to be on their way out of Philadelphia this offseason have eventually found themselves off the roster with cornerback Brandon Boykin the latest to find a new address in a trade with the Steelers on Saturday.

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks’s name came up as a trade candidate at various points in the last few months, but coach Chip Kelly insists that Kendricks won’t be joining the exodus out of Philadelphia.

“Mike Kendricks is not going anywhere. I can tell you that right now. You can write that down in ink, not pencil. Mike’s not going anywhere,” Kelly said, via the Philadelphia Daily News.

Kendricks said that he didn’t spend much time worrying about what might happen, but that he’s “glad to be here” and that thoughts about what will happen after his contract expires at the end of the season will wait until after the season. Kendricks, Kiko Alonso and DeMeco Ryans will be the top inside linebackers in Philly this season and Kendricks says they’re “just rotating” during practices right now.

Permalink 14 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Mo Wilkerson leaves practice with hamstring injury

Wilkerson Getty Images

The only sure thing about training camp is that players will be injured. We just don’t know when and whom and what body part and how long they’ll be out.

Today, the when and whom point to Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson. Via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, Wilkerson left practice on Sunday. After practice, coach Todd Bowles said Wilkerson tweaked his hamstring.

Wilkerson, in the option year of a rookie contract signed in 2011, wants a new deal. His leverage has increased in recent weeks with the four-game suspension and then the arrest of Sheldon Richardson.

Wilkerson’s leverage could plummet if his injury is anything other than a short-term problem.

Permalink 19 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

League: No change in Kensil’s status

NFL Getty Images

For months, Patriots fans have targeted NFL V.P. of game operations Mike Kensil as one of the instigators of #DeflateGate. In recent days, Kensil’s name has resurfaced as one of the “main sources” for ESPN’s false 11-of-12-footballs-at-two-pounds-under-12.5-PSI report.

Today, plenty of readers have passed along a link to the NFL Operations website that lists “the NFL Ops team” — and that doesn’t include Kensil. Listed instead are executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent, senior V.P. of football operations Dave Gardi, V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino, senior director of officiating Al Riveron, and director of football development Matt Birk.

According to the NFL, there has been no change in Kensil’s status.

“He was never on that page in the first place,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT via email on Sunday.

None of this will keep Patriots fans from continuing to insist that whoever leaked false information to ESPN, whether Kensil or someone else or multiple people, be rooted out and disciplined.

Permalink 67 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Stephen Hill diagnosed with torn ACL

Stephen Hill AP

The feeling around the Panthers was that the knee injury suffered by wide receiver Stephen Hill on Saturday was a serious one and those feelings were proven correct on Sunday.

Assistant head coach Steve Wilks, who is filling in for Ron Rivera this weekend while Rivera is attending his brother’s funeral, announced that Hill tore his ACL. The team placed Hill on waivers with the injured designation, which means he’ll be placed on injured reserve for the team if he clears waivers.

“It’s tough anytime you lose a player,” Wilks said, via the team’s website. “We’re just praying that Stephen has a quick recovery, and we’ll move forward.”

Hill was a second-round pick by the Jets in 2012 and caught 45 passes in two years with the team before joining the Panthers practice squad last season. Hill’s issues with drops hastened his exit from the Jets, but the Panthers were hopeful that his size and speed would help them this season.

The Panthers signed undrafted rookie wide receiver Paul Browning.

Permalink 9 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Lions trade Mohammed Seisay to Seahawks

Buffalo Bills v Detroit Lions Getty Images

The Seahawks and Lions have reportedly hooked up for a trade that adds a cornerback to the mix in Seattle.

Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times reports that the Seahawks have sent an undisclosed 2016 draft pick to Detroit in exchange for cornerback Mohammed Seisay.

Seisay was an undrafted rookie last season and initially made the Lions practice squad before getting a spot on the 53-man roster in September. He played in 13 games and made five tackles for Detroit. The Lions presumably didn’t feel he had a great chance of making the roster again this year after drafting two corners to go with free agent additions Josh Wilson and Chris Owens.

Seisay will now compete with Will Blackmon, Marcus Burley, Tye Smith and, once healthy, Tharold Simon in a group topped by Richard Sherman and Cary Williams. At 6’2″ and 200 pounds, Seisay has the kind of size the Seahawks have liked at corner in recent years.

Permalink 42 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Mark Sanchez says talk of Chip Kelly being racist is “getting old”

Kelly Getty Images

The pattern has become predictable. Players who, for whatever reason, don’t fit within the Chip Kelly system point to something other than their failure to fit within the Chip Kelly system when dismissed from it.

It’s easy for some, and a little lazy, to suggest that Kelly makes decisions based in whole or in part on race. But that’s what cornerback Brandon Boykin did after being traded to the Steelers. While Boykin stopped short of echoing the kind of inflammatory remarks previously made by former Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, Boykin told Derrick Gunn of CSN Philly that Kelly is “uncomfortable around grown men of our culture.”

Quarterback Mark Sanchez has sounded off in response to the suggestion that Kelly has any sort of racial bias.

That’s nuts,” Sanchez said, via Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post. “[During stretching today], guys were like, ‘Sanchez, ain’t you Mexican? And Bradford, aren’t you Native-American? And Kiko [Alonso] is Colombian. We’ve got black guys, white guys, Polynesian guys. C’mon, that’s crazy. It’s not even worth talking about. Stop asking the players about it. It’s getting old.”

It may be getting old, but it becomes news whenever a newly old Eagles player dusts off that narrative.

The real narrative is that Chip Kelly is committed to putting together the best team he can, without special treatment for players with big names or big contracts. Everyone is replaceable, regardless of what he has done. And if anyone doesn’t like that, he’ll soon be gone.

Actually, Kelly’s approach gives players a convenient path out of Philly. By not buying in, privately or publicly, Kelly eventually will cut a guy loose, regardless of the precedent it sets. A decade ago, that mindset would have saved the Eagles plenty of stress and strain during an pay-me-trade-me-or-cut-me extended showdown with receiver Terrell Owens.

Kelly ultimately wants guys who want to be there, and who want to do things the way he wants them to be done. While that mentality won’t guarantee a guy special treatment, either, it gives every player a fair chance to make the team and to get onto the field.

Permalink 73 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jerry Reese: We’re going to surprise people defensively

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpta0nda4ndq0owixmtgxotrjn2e5ztqyzgy2ogu1zwe2 AP

The Giants defense wasn’t any good last season and hopes for a revival under returning coordinator Steve Spagnuolo took a hit on July 4 when defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was injured in a fireworks accident.

Pierre-Paul has not signed his franchise tender with the team and has opted not to share his current medical condition with the team while he recovers in Florida, a decision that has led to criticism from co-owner John Mara and coach Tom Coughlin in the last week. General Manager Jerry Reese didn’t have anything to say about Pierre-Paul’s approach when asked about the defensive end on Sunday.

“Guys, I’m not gonna say much,” Reese said, via the New York Daily News. “I don’t really have anything to report about that situation, but I am gonna say this: I wish Jason nothing but the best. It’s a traumatic situation that was — it was an accident. There’s plenty of people that have opinions about it, but my heart goes out to him. For a young man to have a traumatic event like that in his life, it’s life-changing for him and I hope and pray for the best for him. That’s what I can say about that. But other than that, I’m not gonna say anything else about what Jason’s situation is except I hope for the best, and hopefully he’s healing mentally and physically, and that he can be back to himself as soon as possible. That’s all I’m gonna say about the Jason situation.”

Damontre Moore and Kerry Wynn were two players that Reese pointed out while discussing how the defense will line up for however long they’ll be without Pierre-Paul and the G.M. added that they would contribute to a better defense than many people are predicting.

“I think we’ll be really good defensively,” Reese said. “I think we’re gonna surprise people.”

Getting to really good defensively looked hard when expecting a healthy Pierre-Paul in the lineup from the start of the season and meeting Reese’s expectations would make Spagnuolo look pretty good in his return to Jersey.

Permalink 24 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Steelers dump Michael Egnew

Egnew Getty Images

Even with 90 guys on every roster, the churning continues in the early days of training camp.

For the Steelers, that churning has resulted in the arrival of cornerback Brandon Boykin via trade with Philly, and also the signing of rookie free agent running back Jawon Chisholm. The team announced the arrival of Chisholm on Sunday; he was a participant on a tryout basis in the team’s rookie minicamp.

To make room for Boykin and Chisholm, the Steelers released tight end Michael Egnew and placed rookie running back Ross Scheuerman on the waived/injured list.

A third-round pick of the Dolphins in 2012, Egnew appeared in 16 games for the Dolphins in 2013. Cut in August 2014 by the Dolphins, he bounced from the Lions to the Jaguars before being released from Jacksonville’s practice squad on September 24 and spending the rest of the year out of football.

Permalink 13 Comments Feed for comments Back to top