For the last few seasons, the Jacksonville Jaguars were perceived by many as a team on the verge of a breakout. To put it lightly, it hasn’t happened. Change has come to northern Florida in the form of a new coach and a familiar front office executive, but the more things change, the more they will very likely stay the same for one of the NFL’s worst franchises.
Ex-head coach Gus Bradley, who compiled a disastrous 14-48 record in four seasons, is gone. Doug Marrone will be taking his place on the sidelines, while longtime New York Giants bench boss and former Jags coach Tom Coughlin is back to watch over the top of the operation. Unfortunately for the long-tormented Jaguars fan base, the play on the field probably won’t improve much.
The biggest issue, as is so often the problem for bottom-feeding NFL teams, is the quarterback position. Blake Bortles was downright terrible in 2016 and is facing a make-or-break campaign that will determine his future as a starter in this league. The calendar hasn’t even hit September yet but Bortles is already on the hot seat, as the signal-caller has spent his training camp throwing a litany of interceptions and frustrating teammates with his poor play.
After a Thursday night preseason loss in the middle of August in which Bortles once again struggled mightily, Marrone announced that there would be an open competition between Bortles and veteran backup Chad Henne to determine the squad’s starting quarterback for Week 1. Yikes.
There are some bright spots, though. LSU standout running back and No. 4 overall pick Leonard Fournette was brought in to spearhead the backfield, and he’s got all the tools to be one of the best rushers in the league. Allen Robinson is an absolute stud of a wide receiver who’s only a good quarterback away from reaching the next level. The defense fared well in an otherwise forgettable 2016 season and should continue to be solid this year.
Don’t feel bad, Jags fans. At least you’re not the Cleveland Browns. Here’s my betting breakdown for the Jaguars:
Super Bowl +10000
Rather than write about the Jags’ chances to win the Super Bowl, here’s a fitting picture to sum up how the fan base is feeling about the team:
OVER/UNDER win total - 6.5
On the heels of last year’s 3-13 campaign, it’s a bit of a surprise to see the 6.5 number here. Jacksonville hasn’t reached the seven-win mark since 2010, going 5-11, 2-14, 4-12, 3-13, 5-11 and 3-13 since then. It’s going to come down to who’s under center when projecting the Jaguars’ performance in 2017. If Bortles gets sent to the bench (or cut altogether, which is a rumored option), it’s going to be hard for Henne to be worse than Bortles was last year. That’s not enough for me to trust this team, however, which is why I’m comfortable taking the UNDER.
Odds to make the playoffs +300
Odds to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award - Leonard Fournette +400
Fournette is favored to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, and if you’ve ever seen him play, you already know why. The guy is a straight up beast who likely won’t be facing much of an adjustment to the pro game. While it’s true Jacksonville will be down early and often, which will result in them abandoning the running game, don’t let that scare you from backing the 22-year-old to win the hardware. He’s the real deal and has the talent to put up eye-popping stats immediately.
Odds as of August 23 at Sportsbook