The Jaguars exceeded expectations last year by making it to the AFC Championship Game. Unlike most teams with postseason success, they did not largely rely on their quarterback to get their. Instead, it was a combination of a strong running game and elite defense that powered the Jags in 2017.
In fairness to Blake Bortles, he did have some good moments. But he also had a lot of Blake Bortles moments where he was, uh, not very good.
One could make the case that Bortles is the worst full-time starting quarterback on the Eagles’ schedule in 2018. We know that’s how 50 NFL insiders ranked it. From this perspective, the Jags don’t appear overly threatening.
But that defense is good. Jalen Ramsey is a star in the secondary. Jacksonville’s (nicknamed ‘Sacksonsville’ last year) pass rush is ferocious. The Jags’ d-line should have a great battle with the Eagles’ offensive line.
The x-factor in this game, of course, is that it’s being played at Wembeley Stadium in London. The Jags have experience playing overseas, if that’s worth anything, while the Eagles do not. It should be a good game for the international crowd.
Here’s a more in-depth look at the Jaguars from our SB Nation colleagues over at Big Cat Country.
Notable free agent additions: Andrew Norwell G, DJ Hayden CB, Donte Moncrief WR
Over / under: 9 wins - Over. While a lot of people seem to doubt the Jaguars success in 2017, their defense by in large is intact and back for another season and that will be what carries the team. Most of the doubt seems to stem understandably from quarterback Blake Bortles, but the Jaguars figured out how they could win with him last season and it took them to the bring of the Super Bowl. As long as Bortles doesn’t just completely go into the tank, with the improvement on the Jaguars offensive line they should be able to once again beat up on the AFC South and look for double-digit wins once again.
Rookie I’m most excited about: S Ronnie Harrison -- Many thought that Alabama’s Ronnie Harrison would be a first round pick, but he tumbled into the Jaguars lap in the third round. While the Jaguars have a solid pair of starting safeties in Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson, Harrison has already draw rave reviews from his position coaches through OTAs and once the pads come on he should get even better. It’s unlikely he starts for the Jaguars outside of injury, but he could factor in quite a bit in some nickel formations.
Best position battle heading into camp: Wide receiver -- The Jaguars decided to let former Pro Bowler Allen Robinson leave in free agency and released veteran Allen Hurns, so the wide receiver group going into camp is wide open. Undrafted rookie Keelan Cole emerged last season and could end up being the best of the bunch, but the additions of Donte Moncrief and DJ Chark should make it a very fun competition to watch through camp and the preseason.
Biggest storyline heading into camp: Is Blake Bortles for real? -- While I don’t think anyone is ready to declare Blake Bortles a franchise quarterback, the Jaguars committed to him with a short-term contract and his backups leave a lot to be desired. Bortles improved his play in 2017, but still had some stinkers laced throughout, but in the big moments deep in the season and in the playoffs he made plays with either his legs or his arm and you can’t fault him for that. He showed he’s a guy you can win with if other factors go right, but can he take that next step into consistency and start having more games where he’s a big reason why the team won?
Under-the-radar storyline heading into camp: The Jaguars running back group is in a weird spot. Leonard Fournette had a decent rookie season, but he still has a lot of areas to improved. After him are just TJ Yeldon and Corey Grant, both of whom have had flashes but have also not shown any kind of consistency. The Jaguars didn’t address the position at all in the draft or free agency, so they must have a lot of trust in the depth, but it’s something to watch in the preseason that most fans seem to think is just fine because of Fournette at the top of the depth chart.
Notable injuries heading into training camp: The Jaguars were absurdly lucky with injuries last season and the only notable one coming into training camp is one that has not been disclosed with Dante Fowler Jr. The Jaguars placed him on the PUP list heading into training camp and there were some reports he looked like he had lost some upper body muscle mass during OTAs, of which he didn’t participate, but the specific injury is unknown.
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