|By Shawn Childs, Wednesday, June 14, 2017|
The Jaguars have missed the playoffs in each of the last nine seasons with a combined record of 42-102. In the franchise 23-year history, they've made the playoffs six times with four coming in the first five years in the league. Jacksonville finished in the bottom 25 percent in points allowed (400th - 25th) for the fifth straight season, but they did make a nice step forward in yards allowed (6th). Doug Marrone takes over as head coach. In his two seasons with the Bills, he went 15-17. The previous four years Doug had a 25-25 record with Syracuse. As an offensive coordinator for the Saints from 2006 and 2008, Marrone finished first twice in yards gained and once in points scored. Nathaniel Hackett took off the offensive coordinator job late in 2016, which was a job he held under Marrone with the Bills in 2013 and 2014 and 2011 and 2012 at Syracuse. In 2016, the Jaguars' offense finished 25th in points scored (318) and 23rd in yards gained (23rd), which was a step back from 2015 (14th in points and 18th in yards gained). Todd Wash was promoted to defensive coordinator before the 2016 season after spending the previous three years as the Jaguars' defensive line coach and running game coordinator. He has 11 years of NFL experience. Tom Coughlin was brought into the front office earning the title of Executive VP of Football Operations. He led the Jaguars to four straight playoff appearances in the 90s.
The Jaguars have young talent on defense, and they added three players who graded about the league average at their positions in 2016. DE Calais Campbell is 31, but he will be nice upgrade in talent and experience on the defensive line. CB A.J. Bouye was one of the better CBs in the league last year. S Barry Church played very well for the Cowboys. He looks like a lateral move after the loss of S Johnathan Cyprien. I don't think they'll miss Julius Thomas at TE especially since he never developed as expected.
Starting T Kelvin Beachum struggled with a knee issue in 2016 leading to him being released. G Luke Joeckel only played four games last year due to a knee injury that required surgery thus earning a ticket out of town. Jacksonville parted ways with CB Davon House, CB Prince Amukamara, DE Chris Smith, and DE Dan Skuta as well. Amukamara was the only player of value.
Mychal Rivera was added for depth at tight end. T Branden Albert was acquired in a trade with the Dolphins in February. He missed multiple games in 2016 due to a wrist injury leading to a poor season.
With the fourth overall pick in 2017, Jacksonville went for muscle at the running back position - Leonard Fournette. He's a power runner who lacks backs side vision at this point of his career. Leonard has plenty of speed (4.51 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine) for his size (6'0" and 240 lbs.). Built to score TDs with a high winning rate on short yardage. Fournette has minimal experience in the passing game plus he needs to improve his reads on blitzes.
The Jaguars don't have many upside options on the offensive line, so OT Cam Robinson made a lot of sense with their second-round pick. Cam will upgrade the power run game while adding value in run blocking at the second level of the defense. His biggest weakness comes from his movements on certain plays. Robinson needs to fire more at the point of contact in pass sets plus not over commit in the run game. Walks a fine line between aggressiveness and being passive leading to his body being out of position at the of contact and losing battles resulting with him on the mat.
DE Dawuane Smoot has a base skill set that makes more sense as an interior lineman, but he's built to play on the outside. Smoot has enough quickness to have value against the run, but he must be careful to not get out of position against burly linemen. His pass rushing moves look limited while offering a decent combination of speed and power.
In the fourth round, the Jaguars added another wide receiver to the offense with Dede Westbrook. He has the makings of an explosive option over the short areas of the field with solid route running and great hands. Dede has plenty of speed to beat a team deep, but his lack of size (6'0" and 178 lbs.) will lead to him getting beat up on his release against physical defenders. Solid threat in the open field with possible value in the return game. Westbrook needs to get stronger while adding bulk plus improving his motor when challenging at the point of attack.
The next two picks in the 5th and 7th rounds were directed at the defense - LB Blair Brown and CB Jalen Myrick. Brown will have the most value when attacking the line of scrimmage in run support. He lacks the ability to downshift and gear up promptly, which will be negative in pass coverage or when faced with a losing block. Blair needs to improve his ability to break free when in the grasp of a defender. His best asset is his vision leading to plus football instincts. Myrick has elite speed (4.28 in the 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL combine). He can handle himself well in press coverage where his speed works well in the trail position. Jalen needs to improve his technique when retreating in the back pedal plus improve his ability to break to the ball. He appears to be thinking rather than reacting to play development. Looks the part, but lacks the needed pieces to offer an edge.
To add more blocking to the run game, Jacksonville invested in FB Marquez Williams in their last pick in the seventh round.
The Jaguars finished 22nd in the league in rushing yards (1,631) with eight TDs. They gained 4.2 yards per rush while ranking low in attempts per game (24.5). Jacksonville had seven runs of 20 yards or more and 41 rushes over 10 yards. They ended up with 43 negative runs.
Their offensive line allowed 34 sacks and 85 QB hits leading to a 20th place finish in passing yards (3.728) with 24 passing TDs and 16 Ints. The Jaguars gained only 6.3 yards per pass play.
LT Branden Albert has been a steady option in his career while grading as an asset in three of his last six seasons. He's looking for a new contact or some upfront money before he reports so this situation could get dicey. Rookie Cam Robinson may be the better player already so Branden may cost himself a starting job if he waits too long to report. Albert is a former first-round draft pick (2008). Either way, the Jaguars have enough talent to this position to be above the league average.
LG Patrick Omameh has been a neutral player at his position over the last two seasons. He offered an edge as a run blocker with improvement in his pass protection skills while starting ten games in 2016.
C Brandon Linder ended up being one of the better centers in the league with growth in both runs and pass blocking. His skill set will have the most value in the power running attack. His lack of quickness hurts him when trying to block at the second level of the defense. He has excellent character with a solid work ethic. Unfortunately, Jacksonville lost him three games into the 2015 season due to a left shoulder injury. He started 14 games in 2016. The Jaguars selected him in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
RG A.J. Cann started all 16 games in his second year in the league after Jacksonville drafted him in the third round in 2015. Cann has the talent to upgrade a power running game, but he struggled in this area as a starter in his rookie season. His pass protection graded below league average while his skill set projects some upside with improvement in his technique. Last year A.J. fell short of being a league average player.
RT Jermey Parnell has been a starter for the last five seasons in the NFL. He signed a five-year contract with Jacksonville in March in 2015. Parnell was an undrafted free agent in 2009 with limited playing time before his success in 2014. His game didn't translate well in 2015 with weaker play around him on the line. Parnell finished as a league average player in 2016. His job looks to be at risk with Robinson added in this year's draft.
The writing between the lines on this offensive line is a power rushing attack, which is what Leonard Fournette brings to the table. The left side of the line should be better than the league average, and Cam Robinson should upgrade this line somewhere. With an improving defense and solid rushing attack, the QB position won't need to throw as much. This should lead to fewer sacks and a bigger window to hit WRs downfield.
The above data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing TDs touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing TDs (TDS).
This information is based on 2016, which will work as our starting point for 2017. We'll look at all the changes on offense on each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We'll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.
2016 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2016.
2016 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL last year.
2016 Adjustment is based on the 2016 league average and the 2016 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat and the basis for strength of schedule.
The Jaguars face nine opponents that graded above the league average defending the run in 2016. Their rush schedule is below the league average with the help of two premium matchups (SF and CLE).
Jacksonville plays four teams with risk defending the pass (IND X 2 and TEN X 2). They have three bad matchups for their passing attack (ARI and HOU X 2) plus four other mid-tier games (BAL, LAR. CIN, and SEA).
This offense only ran the ball 38.5 percent of the time in 2016 leading to 626 pass attempts. With better all-around play, the Jaguars will run the ball well over 450 times this season.
The Jaguars' defense has a neutral schedule for their rushing defense. They have two tough matchups against the Titans while facing three teams with weakness rushing the ball (BAL, LAR, and LAC).
Jacksonville will play against eight teams that have risk passing the pass (HOU X 2, TEN X 2, NYJ, CLE, LAR, and SF). The Titans have the best chance of being improved in 2017. They'll be tested in the air six other games (IND X 2, PIT, SEA, LAC, and SEA).
The Jaguars allowed only 3.8 yards per rush in 2016, which ranked 8th in the league. They ended up 19th in rushing yards allowed (1,703) while struggling to stop teams from running the ball in the end zone (17 TDs). Ball carriers had ten runs over 20 yards.
Their pass defense (3,444 yards allowed - 5th) made a step forward. They allowed 6.6 yards per pass attempt with 20 TDs and only seven Ints. Jacksonville could only muster 33 sacks.
DT Calais Campbell should be the Jaguars' best defensive linemen in 2017. His game faded a bit in 2016, but he still posted 53 tackle, eight sacks, six defended passes, and an interception. He signed a $60 million contract in March with $30 million in guaranteed money. DT Malik Jackson had a career-high 6.5 sacks in 2016 while earning fewer snaps on this team compared to his days in Denver. DE Dante Fowler with unimpressive in his first season in the NFL with playing time after Jacksonville selected him first overall in 2014. He posted 32 tackles and only four sacks. The addition of Campbell should lead to more favorable matchups in the pass rush this season. DE Yannick Ngakoue delivered a team-high eight sacks in his rookie season after being drafted in the third round.
LB Myles Jack is expected to earn a starting job this year. The Jaguars gave him only 239 snaps on defense in his rookie season after getting selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. LB Paul Posluszny has over 130 tackle in five of his full six seasons played in the league while chipping in with a sack or two each year. LB Telvin Smith has been a steady asset on the defense over the last three seasons. He has over 100 tackles in every year in the league with 5.5 combined sacks.
Rookie CB Jalen Ramsey started all 16 games in 2016. He added value against the run with 14 defended passes and two Ints. He grades as an above-average corner with improvement expected in his second year in the league. CB A.J. Bouye had his best season in the league leading to a $67 million contract. This is pretty exciting for an undrafted free agent. Bouye was one of the top CBs in the league last year. S Tashaun Gibson didn't play as well with Jacksonville as he did earlier in his career with the Browns. He did play through a knee injury and a hamstring issue in 2016. I expect bounce back this season. S Barry Church has 434 combined tackles over the last four seasons with five interceptions. He'll have value against the run.
This defense has three players that have elite upside (Fowler, Campbell, and Ramsey). Their secondary has talent at each position, so this group should grade in the top 25 percent of the league. The linebacking core has plenty of tackling ability. On paper based on last year, this defense only has two players with risk (Fowler and Ngakoue). We know Fowler has high upside and Yannick should improve as well.
To be a Top 10 Fantasy defense in 2017, the Jaguars need a jump in sacks plus they need their secondary to create more turnovers. I like their schedule so Jacksonville should be playable in four to five games as the minimum. If Westbrook adds value in returns, something special could be developing. A plus rushing season by Fournette will keep this defense fresh.
QB Blake Bortles - Quality Backup
Over three seasons in the NFL, Bortles has a career 11-34 record with regression in his 2016 season even with a career-high 625 passing attempts. He threw for 3,905 yards with 23 passing TDs and 16 Ints. In his first two years in the league, Blake was sacked 106 times. His stats looked impressive in 2015 (4,428 passing yards with 37 combined TDs and 310 yards rushing). The Jaguars did a better job protecting Bortles last year (34 sacks), but he gained only 6.2 yards per rush. His completion rate (58.9) remains in a short area. In 2016, he had five games with over 300 yards passing, but only one game with over two passing TDs. His receiving core had talent at wide receiver with a viable pass-catching option out of the backfield. The structure of this offense points to more runs in 2017, which suggests Blake will become more of a game manager this season. This may lead to more passing TDs and bigger plays in the passing game especially if Leonard Fournette turns into a stud rushing the ball. His window to be a starting QB in the NFL is at a break point. Bortles should have a floor of 4,000 combined yards with enough talent to approach 30 TDs. I view him as a QB2 in 12-team leagues.
RB Leonard Fournette - Gamble (high risk)
Over 25 games at LSU, Fournette rushed for 3830 yards with 40 rushing TDs. He caught 41 passes for 526 yards and a TD. His success was highlighted by his 2,206 combined yards with 23 TDs and 19 catches over 12 games. Fournette had a great start to the 2016 season (764 combined yards with five TDs and 12 catches) over four games. Alabama shut him down in Week 5 (43 combined yards on 18 touches). An ankle injury in the Week 7 ended his year. Leonard is going to threaten the defense on many plays when he breaks into the second level. He runs with a shimmy at the line of scrimmage, which gives him two area quickness where he can finish with power or hit the gas to daylight. Fournette has all the tools to be an impact back in the NFL with underlying pass catching skills (12.8 yards per catch). Last season the Jaguars ran the ball only 333 times from the RB position for 1274 yards (3.8 yards per rush) and five TDs. Their backs caught 77 passes for 555 yards and two TDs. I love his movements on tape, and the Jaguars offensive line is better than I expected. Leonard is going to hit the ground running, and he'll offer more upside than Shaun Alexander in his prime once this offense develops. Jacksonville will give him the ball early and often. I foresee 350+ rushes with 25+ catches for 1800+ yards and 12+ TDs. And yes, I believe.
RB T.J. Yeldon - Deep-league Only
After two seasons in the league, Yeldon didn't live up to his second-round draft value in 2015. In his rookie year, he had 1019 combined yards on 218 touches with 36 catches and three TDs. T.J. gained only 3.6 yards per rush and 6.2 yards per catch in 2016. He rarely saw early down action close to the goal line with Ivory in the mix for touches. I don't believe he will be a full-time option on third downs. Coin flip for to be the top backup options with minimal value in the Fantasy market. Yeldon did battle an ankle injury over the last six weeks of the season.
RB Chris Ivory - Fantasy Handcuff
After his first 1000-yard season in 2015 (247/1070/7), Chris came up short due to hamstring and ankle injuries. Ivory gained a career-low 3.8 yards per rush last year. He finished with 625 combined yards on 137 touches with three TDs. This season he'll be the backup dancer with serviceable short-term value if needed to cover Fournette on early downs.
WR Dede Westbrook - Dynasty Only
After a quiet junior season (46/743/4), Westbrook broke through with an impactful senior campaign (80/1524/17). His best success came over a four-game stretch starting in game 4 (7/158/2, 10/232/3, 9/184/3, and 9/202/2). He scored all of his TDs over the last ten games of the year. Most of his scoring came only long passes where he has his man beaten by more than a step and more than a few TDs coming on wide-open looks. Dede has a DeSean Jackson feel to him, but he'll be challenged more off the line of scrimmage in the pros while facing tighter coverage. This season he could be the hammer in the Jags' passing game leading to a few long TDs and possible value in the return game.
WR Allen Robinson - Solid/Safe Pick
Based on targets (151), Robinson had the same identical opportunity as his 2015 season. Unfortunately, he lost value in catches (73 - 80 in 2015), yards per catch (12.1 - 17.5 in 2015), TDs (6 - 14 in 2015), and catches over 20 yards (11 - 31 in 2015), and catches over 40 yards (1 - 6 in 2015). His catch rate (48.3) was the lowest of his career. Allen only had four games with over 20 Fantasy points in 2016 (7/57/2, 7/76/1, 9/107/1, and 9/147). Success at the RB position and a healthy Allen Hurns will help create more open area and more upside in 2017. He'll remain the top receiving option on this roster, but Jacksonville should be more productive scoring rushing TDs in the red zone. Something along the lines of 80 catches for 1000+ yards and just under double TDs is a reasonable baseline for this year.
WR Marqise Lee - Bye Week Fill-in
After struggling through his first two seasons (37/422/1 and 15/191/1). Lee became somewhat Fantasy relevant in 2016. He finished with 63 catches for 851 yards and three TDs on 105 targets while earning WR3 snap over the first half of the season. Over the last 12 games of the season, Marqise had eight targets in six games. He had two games with over 100 yards receiving (7/107 and 5/113). Lee has talent while being a second-round draft pick in 2014. His game may not have the explosiveness or scoring ability of Hurns, so he'll be the third option in the passing. A weaker option at TE does work in his favorable for chances in 2017. Last year the Jaguars completed 207 passes for 2618 yards and 15 TDs on 381 targets to the wide receiver position. Without growth in Bortles completion rate, Jacksonville can't post much more completions to WRs. More of a WR 2B with an on-and-off battle with Hurns for chances. Possible 60+ catches for 750+ yards and a handful of TDs.
WR Allen Hurns - Bye Week Fill-in
Over the first seven games of 2016, Hurns had 31 catches for 443 yards and two TDs on 56 targets. If he played a full season, Allen was on pace for 71 catches for 1013 yards and five TDs on 128 targets. These stats would have finished in a reasonable area compared to his 2015 season (64/1031/10 on 105 targets). Over his next four games, he only had four catches for 34 yards and a TD on 20 targets. Hurns had a shoulder issue in October, a concussion in November, and a hamstring injury in late November. In his 42 games career in the NFL, Allen has 19 TDs. He has big play and scoring ability, but more competition for targets with Marqise Lee showing growth last season. His bar should be about 60 catches for 900+ yards with respectable TDs. Tough start from week-to-week in the season long games while offering some explosiveness.
TE Mychal Rivera - Not Draft Worthy
Based on recent career resume (146 catches for 1413 yards and 10 TDs over four seasons), Rivera looks in line to be the top TE option for the Jaguars in 2017. His value has declined in back-to-back seasons (32/280/1 and 18/192/1) with the addition of Clive Walford added to the Raiders' offense. His best success came in 2014 (58/534/4 on 99 targets) when Oakland had weak options in the passing game. In 2016, Jacksonville completed 84 passes for 732 yards and six TDs on 125 targets to the TE position. More of an afterthought in this offense with competition for playing time from multiple TEs this season.
TE Marcedes Lewis - Not Draft Worthy
It's been four seasons since Lewis had any playable Fantasy value. He has 20 catches or fewer in each of his last three years while averaging fewer than three targets per game. His season ended in November in 2016 with a calf issue.
PK Jason Myers - Not Draft Worthy
Over two seasons in the NFL, Myers made 82.8 percent of his field goal tries while struggling with extra points (61-for-71). He's made 27 of his 29 kicks inside the 40-yard line so his extra point average should improve. If not, Jason will be looking for a new job. Jacksonville gave him 12 chances from 50 yards or longer in 2016 leading to seven made bombs. Myers is now 10-for-16 from long range. He needs to be more consistent while the Jaguars must create more chances. More of a matchup option with sneaky upside with growth in this offense.