PFT Preseason power rankings No. 28: Jacksonville Jaguars

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The last several years, the Jaguars have teased with potential, while stockpiling young talent. Some of the wizards of the national media (raises hand) have thought they had the mark of an ascending playoff team.

Instead, they cratered under former coach Gus Bradley, who was always upbeat and positive but also 14-48 in four seasons. While he can’t be blamed for the tear-down that had to happen before the rebuild, at some point the record matters and you have to proceed.

They’re not going to be as cheerful this year with Doug Marrone coaching and Tom Coughlin watching over the top of the whole operation. But with the long-standing NFL truth that if the last guy was fat, the next one will be skinny, Jaguars ownership clearly thought they needed to be led with a firmer hand.

But that discipline also has to come with better play, specifically from quarterback Blake Bortles, who has one last chance to prove he’s worth building around. By using the fourth overall pick in the draft on running back Leonard Fournette instead of another quarterback of the future, they have given Bortles his best chance to date to run a balanced offense.

Ultimately, Bortles will determine the fate of this season and his own future. If he plays the way he did two years ago with more help, the team could rise. If he doesn’t, the stage will be set for the next reconstruction.

Biggest positive change: The Jags have always had young talent on defense, which you need if you want to compete. But while winning the offseason again, they signed one of the league’s consummate professionals in defensive lineman Calais Campbell. Along with the additions of cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church, it’s the kind of influx of veteran talent (and maturity) that should push all the youngsters like Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack and Dante Fowler to realize the promise they’ve hinted at. The human talent is there. Now it has to become a good defense.

Biggest negative change: They were already quite bad so everything’s relative. It would have been nice to see left tackle Branden Albert all-in after they acquired him in trade. But he stayed away from the offseason program waiting for a contract extension which wasn’t coming. In his absence, it’s clear the Jaguars still have some work to do up front, and that’s going to be an issue for them. Second-round tackle Cam Robinson seems like a good pick, but we’ve heard that before from the Jaguars.

Coaching thermometer: Room temperature, which is probably a decent reflection of the state of the franchise. Marrone’s probably as safe as anyone in the short term, since he’s in his first full year and they seem to realize this might take a minute.

We’d like to crack a beer with . . . Tom Coughlin, and we say that with the knowledge it’s probably more of a happy hour/early bird special situation than an all-nighter. The elder statesman is back where his NFL head coaching career began, now with Super Bowls on his resume and the kind of presence the team sorely lacked. Simply making people show up on time isn’t going to be enough to turn the team around, but Coughlin’s also at a different point in life than his first time in Jacksonville. He’s not a big personality per se, but he also has the experience that means he has plenty of great stories. Even if a lot of them are about the good old days and end up with him yelling at the kids to get off his lawn.

How they can prove us wrong: Bortles can stop throwing so many interceptions. Jack grows into the role they envision in the middle (since they’ve bumped Paul Posluszny outside to make room for him). Fowler becomes the sack-producer they’ve been looking for for years. And all the other kids they’ve been pumping up finally play to their reputations.

25 responses to “PFT Preseason power rankings No. 28: Jacksonville Jaguars

  1. As a Lions fan, I feel for you Jaguars fans. Lots of potential but always something to stop the momentum moving forward. Hope they do well this year, I try to follow them as much as possible. Lots of talent. Good luck!!!!

  2. The first team on this countdown that is ranked way too low. I think the Jags will win 7 games. If you want to put an AFC South team here, it should be the Colts.

  3. Every year I wait for these guys to be decent again. It’s honestly perplexing why they can’t get traction. They don’t have the comical bumbling of the Jets, incompetent management of the Niners, or gypsy curse of the Browns. They fight hard in every game and then somehow lose by a touchdown. I don’t get it.

  4. With Coughlin involved I believe they will do better than where they are ranked.

    It’s tough to make these kinds of predictions, because a couple of serious injuries to key players can easily change the whole season…

  5. They actually have a chance to win the division this year. If they don’t at least compete for a wild card, Bortles is done in Jacksonville.

  6. TC won’t allow them to be the 5th worst team in the league. They will win a couple of extra games just because of his presence.
    Gus Bradley was a super nice guy, but red flags should have gone up when they realized he cannot even say “Jaguars” correctly. He always said “yag-wires”. Couldn’t make the J sound. Yacksonville Yagwires. Probably a good idea to not hire a head coach who can’t properly pronounce the team’s name.

  7. As a Titans fan the Coughlin hire was a good move & makes me nervous. But as long as Bortles & Marrone “are who we thought they were” then I feel much better. Because that team does have a load of young talent. But I am not sure that Bortles & Marrone are the right guys to lead them.

    That said, I was pretty confident that Mike Mularkey was also not the right guy for the Titans. But at least for 1 year he proved me wrong.

  8. The AFC South is coming alive.. don’t count out the Jags to win the division.. Texans have a great D but the QB situation is still skeptical. Titans are on the rise. And will contend for the top spot as well. Colts have Luck so you can never count them out. Jags are young and very talented. If Bortles matures and gets his head on right and stops partying the Jags can be very very good. Best receiving core in the division..Great rookie RB in Fournette.. look out for the Jags this season.. You heard it here first.

  9. Gus Bradley was and is a complete WIMP.
    GM David Caldwell went 0-2 and possibly 0-3 on the biggest decisions a GM can make.
    1st Draft Pick? Weak Luke Joeckel at LT – gone
    HC Hire? Gus WIMP Bradley – fired
    Franchise QB Draft Pick? Bortles….

  10. I think Coughlin will make a difference. He won’t tolerate people like Jared Odrick. He had a bad personal foul in one game and was taken out of the game and acted like a petulant child and all Gus Bradley did was….nothing. Not a thing. Is it any wonder they were undisciplined. They may have liked Bradley but they didn’t seem to respect him. They had WAY too many personal fouls last year. I expect the first time that happens in a game Tom Coughlin will give that guy an earful at the next practice. I think they really need Coughlin’s firm hand. They have enough talent. It’s just a matter of putting it all together. The defense isn’t all that bad. The offense had their share of issues. If it wasn’t Bortles throwing an INT he was making a stupid decision. Then there was the play from the receivers. Way too many dropped passes. I think they have the talent. Let’s jus tsee how it works out under Marrone and Coughlin. It’ll take a little time to weed out players who they don’t want but I think that’ll be an addiction by subtraction. It wouldn’t surprise me if they won six or seven games this year. I’m sure Bortles will be plenty motivated to make sure he’s around to play under the fifth-year option (and all the money that will put in his pocket).

  11. For me, this is the 1st surprise in the ranking…
    I see the Jags being much better than the Rams and the Bucs.

    Can not see how the Jags can be worse than those 2… must be personal preference… LoL

  12. A good draft … some nice FAs … and maybe Coughlin’s tired old routine might work down there. I think they could surprise.

  13. After only winning 3 games last year, I can see the ranking. This team should win at least 8 games this season. It all comes down to Bortles.

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