The Jags had an impressive 2012. Impressive in the sense that they were able to be so bad and still be considered an NFL team. Sure they had a reasonably bright season from rookie Justin Blackmon which should bode well, right? Well except for the fact that he’s already been suspended the first 4 games of the season for violation of the league’s substance abuse problem. Then, whilst watching the team’s first preseason contest against the Dolphins he got into an altercation with Dolphin’s Nolan Carroll and then his own teammate Jason Babin. Reports are that he had to be forced off the field by Maurice Jones-Drew.
This certainly doesn’t bode well for Blaine Gabbert who was just named week 1 starter(provided he’s healthy and ready to go by then). Luckily for Gabbert he should have a healthy MJD to help him out and that can only mean less pressure on him. The defense remains unimpressive aside from Babin and Paul Posluszny and will be in tough all season.
OT – Luke Joeckel
LB – Geno Hayes
RB – Maurice Jones-Drew(healthy & not holding out)
CB – Derek Cox
DT Terrance Knighton
RB – Rashad Jennings
Maurice Jones-Drew could make this team relevant. All he really has to do is rush for about 6,000 yards. Unrealistic perhaps but there’s no reason he can’t top 2,000 combined yards with the zone blocking scheme that new OC Jedd Fisch brings aboard. MJD will be the focal point of the offense and will be heavily relied upon if any success at all is to be expected. Justin Forsett takes over from Rashad Jennings as the guy who waits for Jones-Drew to need a rest then watches as the ball is thrown to Cecil Shorts. He should fill the role admirably.
The team should be a little excited as Blackmon looks to have all the talent required to become a star in the NFL, but worried as he seems to have all of the attitude and immaturity to become the next Matt Jones(remember him, Jags fans??). Cecil Shorts could end up being the stud of this group as he flashed moments of brilliance in 2012 and is still young enough to improve. Mercedes Lewis could make a fearsome third but has his own issues dropping balls and sometimes being unable to outrun coverage.
Blaine Gabbert will again be given every chance to be the starter on this team but don’t be immensely surprised if Chad Henne gets some starts this season. The truth is that neither QB is good enough to start for any NFL teams outside of maybe the Jets and Bills(and that’s still a maybe.) Yes the line was brutal and beat up last year but they’re almost completely healthy heading into 2013 and have added Joeckel so that can’t be an excuse this year. Gabbert must perform.
As previously stated, there are only two real NFL-quality players on the front 7 and Pozluszny and Babin can’t do it on their own. Tyson Alualu is the most likely candidate to step up, but he’s been around a few years and has only been slighty better than average so that’s not saying a lot. This unit will get burned time and time again.
The Jags decided to decimate and sort-of rebuild their secondary this off season and it’s not pretty. Gone are mainstay’s Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis, and Dawan Landry, replaced with the youth of Jonathan Cyprien, Dwayne Gratz, Josh Evans, Jeremy Harris and Demetrius McCray. Anyone think this is gonna work?
Josh Scobee is excellent at his job. He may be the offense’s 2nd best player and that’s really scary. Punter Bryan Anger is pretty solid in his own right. The return game however is a mess and doesn’t look like it’s getting clearer any time soon. MJD is probably the only guy on the team who would be great at it but he’ll be doing enough.
I won’t pretend that I know a ton about Gus Bradley, but thus far what I do know isn’t good. He failed to control how own players from fighting with the opposition and then themselves during a pre-season game and seems to be pressuring Gabbert into returning too early from his injury. They say he’s aggressive but that’s doesn’t necessarily mean effectively.
The Studs: MJD is your guy. If he’s healthy he’s probably a top 5 fantasy player. In the new system he could be even more dangerous.
The Workers: Cecil Shorts will be the most successful receiver this season. Probably not if Blackmon was playing all 16, but expect both around 800-1,000 yards.
Sleeper: If Gabbert and Henne crap the bed again, there may be nothing left to do but to give Denard Robinson a chance to run his Michigan offense in Jacksonville. Problem is that the teams he had in Michigan probably had more talent than this one.
Overrated: Justin Blackmon. All the talent in the world, but until he proves he can handle the fame, I’m not buying.
Should Win: None
Toss-Up: @Oakland, Arizona, @Cleveland
In Tough: Most of their schedule.
Thoughts: They may not even be favourites against the Bills. They really have 4 toss-ups and will hope to go 3-1 in those games as an upset is unlikely with this roster.