|By Shawn Childs, Friday, June 12, 2015|
It's almost like the Jaguars are trying to play their way out of Jacksonville. They haven't really shown any improvement in the past three years, compiling a 9-39 record. Their offense has scored the fewest points in both seasons with Gus Bradley as the head coach. Bradley's record is 7-25. In each of the last four years, Jacksonville has finished among the bottom four teams in total yards. They averaged 289.6 yards per game last year, the league's second-worst total. Their defense climbed to 26th in points allowed (412) and yards allowed (370.8), which was a three-year high. Over the past three years, the Jaguars have been outscored by 554 points (11.5 points per game). Bradley may not be long for this job and he's already lost first-round linebacker Dante Fowler for the season. Greg Olson was brought in to take over the offensive coordinator job. He spent the past two seasons filling the same position with the Oakland Raiders. His most successful run as an OC occurred in 2006-07, when he had the services of Steven Jackson, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce with the St. Louis Rams. Bob Babich will return for his third season as the defensive coordinator.
Jacksonville's big signing in the offseason was tight end Julius Thomas. He provides an instant upgrade to the offense, but his upside is limited due to Jags' lack of scoring ability.
On a bad team, a player lost to free agency could be a good thing. Wide receiver Cecil Shorts left to play with the Houston Texans. His skill set has been on the decline over the past two years due to injuries. J.T. Thomas had the most snaps at linebacker for Jacksonville in 2014, but he had no sacks and played poorly against the run. The Jaguars cut their best run defender, defensive tackle Red Bryant. Sergio Brown was added to start at free safety. Brown offers no upside impact to this defense. Cornerback Alan Ball signed with the Chicago Bears. He went on injured reserve last October due to a torn biceps. Cornerback Will Blackmon missed half of the season with a broken finger. He was released in February and moved onto the Seattle Seahawks.
The Jaguars brought in Stefen Wisniewski to take over at center. He has upside in run blocking and has allowed only three sacks in his four NFL seasons. Jared Odrick was added to the defensive line. The former first-round defensive tackle recorded just one sack last year and was below average against the run. Cornerback Davon House will compete for playing time in the secondary.
Jacksonville selected Fowler third overall. He was expected to be an impact pass rusher and be solid in run support. Unfortunately, he tore an ACL on the first day of rookie minicamp. He'll sit out this year.
With their second pick, Jacksonville drafted T.J. Yeldon. He is a big back (6-foot-1, 226 pounds) who plays with good short-area quickness to reach the second level of the defense. His style doesn't match his body as he lacks the power to finish runs or break tackles. He has league-average speed and needs to improve his pass protection skills.
Guard A.J. Cann was added in the third round. Cann will upgrade Jacksonville's running game. He'll have some value in pass protection once he improves his technique.
Fourth-round safety James Sample has solid speed for his position and is a physical presence versus the run. His lack of experience leads to him making mistakes in coverage.
With three of their last four picks, the Jags tried to add value to the passing game with WR Rashad Greene, WR Neal Sterling and TE Ben Koyack. Greene is an undersized receiver (5-foot-11, 182 pounds) who is willing to go over the middle of the field. He will have value on third downs and possesses some big-play ability in the open field. Rashad needs to get stronger and attack the ball when it is in the air.
Sterling has a tight end's size (6-foot-4, 235 pounds) but a wide receiver's skill set. He's more of a project who needs to get stronger and develop his route-running skills.
Koyack is a solid blocker with enough speed to threaten the middle of the field deep. He had limited experience as a receiver in college, but his athletic ability points to upside down the road.
In the sixth round, the Jaguars selected DT Michael Bennett, who will cause havoc in the middle of the line with his quickness, strong hands and technique. He could stand to add some bulk and strength. He'll be an even better player if he competes with more effort consistently.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon
Left tackle Luke Joeckel was selected second overall in the 2013 draft. He struggled in his first season as a starter, giving up eight sacks, seven QB hits and 29 QB hurries. After a slow start through the first six games, Luke was about league average as a run blocker over the last 10.
Left guard Zane Beadles held his own in pass blocking (two sacks, three QB hits and 12 QB hurries). His run blocking was much stronger in the previous two years while with the Denver Broncos.
Wisniewski will limit defensive attacks up the middle at center. He is expected to return for training camp following a shoulder surgery that took place in January.
Right guard Brandon Linder played well in his rookie season, having solid value in both run and pass blocking. He should be a real asset in the team's power running attack. His lack of quickness hurts him when he's trying to block at the second level. He has excellent character with a solid work ethic.
Right tackle Jermey Parnell signed a five-year contract in March. The former undrafted free agent started seven games, allowed no sacks and had positive value as a run blocker. His success was helped by the elite talent around him on this line. He could be its weak link now.
Jacksonville has quite a bit of talent on this O-line. It could take it up another notch if the running backs play better and if their quarterback plays smarter.
The Jaguars did run the ball fairly well last year (4.5 yards per rush), but since they trailed in games often, they recorded the fifth-fewest rushing attempts (22.5 per game). Jacksonville had only nine rushing TDs. With just a league-average amount of rushing attempts, this team has the potential to boast a top-10 ground attack. But their RBs need to be more explosive for that to happen.
Jacksonville quarterbacks were sacked a league-high 71 times in 2014. This contributed to them throwing only 15 touchdowns, 18 interceptions and ranking 31st in passing yards per game. Although the Jaguars' line needs to protect better, QB Blake Bortles needs to show growth as well.
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 2014, which will work as our starting point for 2015. 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.
2014 Average: The league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2014.
2014 Results: This is the results for each team in the NFL.
2015 Adjustment: The difference between a team's result and the league average in a certain statistic. This number will show if a team is above or below the league average in each stat and will serve as the basis for the strength of schedule.
The Jags start the year with seven games against largely league-average run defenses. Their run game has four favorable matchups after their Week 8 bye: the New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers, and the Tennessee Titans twice. Their only two tough matchups in this department will come against the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets. Jacksonville's passing game has three tough matchups: the Chargers, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons are the worst pass defenses on Jacksonville's schedule.
QB Blake Bortles - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
UPDATE (11/21): Bortles has been an excellent option this season. The breakout Fantasy star has emerged as a QB1. He's leading a talented young offense and doing a great job of it. To this point in the season he has 2,632 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Best of all, Bortles and the Jags' offense should only continue to get better. He is a fantastic asset in dynasty leagues and is already a young but solid option.
Bortles was supposed to spend his rookie year learning on the sidelines, but poor play from Chad Henne led to Blake starting from Week 4 on. After completing nearly 70 percent of the passes in his first three starts, defenses pretty much limited Bortles' upside over the final 10 games of the year. He threw for more than 250 yards only once during that time and recorded just three touchdowns through his last seven contests. He also had 15 interceptions in his first nine games. On the year, he completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,908 yards, 11 TDs and 17 INTs. The addition of Thomas at tight end and the maturation of three second-year wideouts should really help him. But Blake must minimize his mistakes and score more touchdowns in the red zone. With 16 starts in 2015, it wouldn't take much for him to reach 3,500 yards passing with another 500 yards rushing. For him to be a top-15 QB in FFWC scoring, Bortles would need to score 20 total TDs. His resume looks weak, but he has a chance to be a serviceable backup QB in Fantasy. He will have more upside if his offensive line protects him.
Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles
RB T.J. Yeldon - Sleeper (undervalued)
UPDATE (11/21): Yeldon has been a high-volume back during his rookie season and is the clear-cut feature back in Jacksonville. Still, he has been nothing more than a solid flex option to this point of his rookie season. He's rushed for 585 yards and one TD and has tacked on 27 receptions for 153 yards and one additional touchdown. The Jaguars still have issues on the offensive line but they're slowly coming together. Yeldon should have a bright future ahead of him.
Yeldon had strong freshman and sophomore campaigns at the University of Alabama as he totaled 2,343 yards on 382 carries and 26 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 31 passes for 314 yards with a TD. However, he turned in his worst collegiate season as a junior (979 yards on 194 carries with 11 TDs; 15 catches for 180 yards and one TD). His success is driven by his legs and quickness. Yeldon runs upright and looks for daylight rather than contact. T.J. has the explosiveness to reach the second level of the defense. He has some pass-catching skills, but he needs to improve as a blocker. His legs have relatively low mileage, but he tends to get nicked up. I believe he has the best all-around skill set of any RB on the team. I expect Yeldon to take 250-plus touches this season for more than 1,100 yards. He could very well end up as a low-end RB2. His development as a receiver and at the goal line will be key to any further growth.
RB Denard Robinson - Bust (overvalued)
Robinson started nine games for the Jaguars last year and had a four-game stretch during which he averaged 17.7 Fantasy points in PPR leagues. He gained more than 100 yards from scrimmage in three of those games. However, his season was ended in Week 14 by a sprained foot. The Jaguars threw to him only 31 times, which led to 23 catches for 124 yards. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry, which was significantly better than the YPC averages of all other Jaguars running backs (3.95). Robinson was the best option in a low-upside offense, but his success may have just been created by opportunity. That success will give him a solid opportunity to capture the lead RB job, but his skill set and resume suggest he won't keep the gig all year. I like his hot run from 2014, and I think this offensive line can improve in run blocking, but there is no way I'm placing an early bet on him on draft day. Even if he stays healthy, he may touch the ball no more than 150 times with Yeldon now in the fold.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Denard Robinson
WR Allen Robinson - Sleeper (undervalued)
UPDATE (11/21): Robinson was a breakout candidate this season. Last year we projected him as a first-round talent before he slipped to the Jags in the second round. After finishing his rookie season on injured reserve with a foot injury, he has not disappointed during his sophomore campaign. He entered the league NFL ready and has been a WR1 this season. Robinson has already caught 50 passes for 871 yards and seven touchdowns. He reminds us a lot of Larry Fitzgerald, he's a blossoming star.
Robinson was a two-year starter at Penn State, where he caught 174 passes for 2,450 yards and 17 TDs. He lacks elite speed (4.60 40-yard dash), but he has surprising quickness (4.00 20-yard shuttle) considering that he is 6 feet 2 and 220 pounds. His advanced route-running skills give him the ability to attack all areas of the field. Allen has a solid release against press coverage, but he really needs to add some more strength. His hands don't appear to be elite, but his reach allows him to have a wide catch radius. Robinson is a patient runner in the open field, which allows him to gain lots of yards after the catch. His size and leaping ability will allow him to have plus value at the goal line down the road. Robinson emerged as a steady option for Bortles as a rookie. From Weeks 2-10, he posted 47 catches, 548 yards and two TDs on 78 targets. Averaged out over 16 games, that becomes 83.5 catches, 974 yards and 3.5 touchdowns. In other words, Robinson would be a back-end WR3. His season ended in Week 10 due to a stress fracture in his right foot that required surgery. With a year of experience under his belt and a full season of play possibly ahead, I expect Robinson to be a nice value pick in drafts and finish this season as a back-end WR2.
WR Marqise Lee - Bye Week Fill-in
FANTASY PROFILE / STATS & MORE
WR Rashad Greene - Dynasty Only
FANTASY PROFILE / STATS & MORE
TE Julius Thomas - Gamble (high risk)
Thomas could be one of the trickiest players to gauge in 2015. He has scored 12 times in each of the past two seasons, but his success was created by a dynamic, Peyton Manning-led offense with deep passing options. In Jacksonville, Thomas should slot in as the second option in the passing game behind Robinson. Julius has missed five games over the past couple of seasons due to ankle and knee pains. Over the first five games of last year, he accumulated 24 catches, 277 yards and nine TDs on 30 targets. His value faded over his final eight games (19 catches, 212 yards and three TDs on 32 targets). The Jags completed 47 passes to their TEs for 547 yards and two scores last season; That should be the floor for Thomas. He will improve this offense, and Bortles will improve with him. I expect a 60-catch campaign with 700-plus yards and a minimum of five touchdowns. That makes him a low-end TE1 in PPRs.
Jacksonville Jaguars TE Julius Thomas
PK Josh Scobee - Low Potential
FANTASY PROFILE / STATS & MORE
Jacksonville - Low Potential
The Jaguars' defense has eight games against weak rushing attacks. Their toughest ground matchups will come against the Jets, Ravens, Texans (twice) and Carolina Panthers. Their pass defense could have problems with the Saints, Falcons and two meetings with the Indianapolis Colts. The good news for Jacksonville's pass defense is that it gets two games against Houston, two against Tennessee and meetings with the Jets and the Buccaneers.
Last year, Jacksonville allowed the sixth-most rushing yards (2,033) and 15 rushing scores, mostly because their opponents averaged 31.2 rushing attempts per game. They allowed only 4.1 yards per carry, which was better than the league average.
2010 first-round draft pick, defensive end Tyson Alualu, played so well in 2013 that Jacksonville demoted him to part-time player in 2014. He was on the field for 41.1 percent of the defensive snaps and didn't do much as a pass rusher. Odrick also has no upside in sacks and is below par against the run. DT Sen'Derrick Marks suffered a torn ACL last December, and he may not be ready for the start of the 2015 season. Marks was the Jaguars' best pass rusher last season as he compiled nine sacks, nine QB hits and 20 QB hurries. Defensive end Chris Clemons is projected to start at age 33 but may find himself on the bench soon. He played poorly for the majority of last season.
Linebacker Paul Posluszny missed the last half of 2014 with a torn pectoral muscle. He is not a plus player in any area of the game. Linebacker Telvin Smith was only a league-average defender in his rookie season. Dan Skuta was brought in for linebacker depth, but he may be forced to start with Fowler out for the year. At best, Skuta is only slightly better than the league average against the run and has limited value as a pass rusher.
The Jaguars had 45 sacks last year, tied for sixth-most in the league. They allowed the 11th-most passing yards (3,899) along with 24 touchdowns and grabbed only six interceptions.
Cornerback Dwayne Gratz played well versus the run. Receivers caught 47 of 76 passes against him for 681 yards, six TDs and one INT. Cornerback Demetrius McCray allowed only one TD in his 12 starts. Receivers hauled in 33 of 57 passes while facing him for 339 yards. Safety Johnathan Cyprien was league average in run support and got picked on in coverage for a couple of games. In those two contests, opposing receivers caught 25 of 35 passes for 399 yards and three scores. Sergio Brown has pretty much been a backup safety for the entirety of his five-year career. Last year, he graded out as being slightly above average in run and pass defense.
This defense looks brutal, but the coaching staff does game plan well enough to at least take away their opponent's No. 1 option. I don't think this defense has any upside, and it will be hard-pressed to match last season's sack total.