Why the Jacksonville Jaguars Will Take a Step Back in 2018

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After a decade of not making the postseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars resurged in 2017. Not only winning the AFC South, but also making it to the AFC Championship game. Although Jacksonville was very successful last season, that level of success won’t be duplicated in 2018.

The Jaguars have too many stars to fall back into being a below average team. However, when it comes to AFC contenders, Jacksonville’s name won’t be mentioned with the likes of the Pittsburgh Steelers or New England Patriots this season.

First, Blake Bortles is now the worst quarterback in the AFC South

This offseason the Jaguars extended Blake Bortles to a three-year, $54 million dollar contract. Instead of going after free agent Kirk Cousins, the Jaguars decided to keep Bortles as their starter. Bortles has yet to establish himself as a franchise quarterback.

The other three quarterbacks in the division: Deshaun Watson, Andrew Luck, and Marcus Mariota have shown just that. Luck has carried an inferior Colts roster to a Conference Championship appearance before. Luck has also made the playoffs every year he has played all 16 games. Bortles made his first playoff appearance last year in what was his fourth season as the Jaguars starter.

Watson, in just six games as a full-time starter, was leading the league in touchdown passes before he got injured. Also, over those six games, he averaged a QBR of 103. If Watson can bounce back from his ACL injury and return to how he was playing, he clearly will be better than Bortles.

Mariota did struggle last year, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. 2017 was Mariota’s worst season as a pro. The expectation is the young quarterback will bounce back and not play as badly. Even amidst a down regular season, Mariota was able to get his team to the playoffs. In the playoffs, Mariota helped Tennessee come back from a 21-3 deficit on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. Bortles was not able to score a touchdown in the second half of the AFC Championship game against New England.

Bortles is not awful, but he’s not on the level of the other quarterbacks within the AFC South. Not to mention Jacksonville was unable to retain two of Bortles most talented weapons in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. Robinson left to go play for the Chicago Bears, while Hurns left and signed with the Dallas Cowboys.

Jacksonville’s star-studded defense was very healthy last season

It’s known that the Jaguars have one of, if not the most talented defenses in the entire NFL. First or second team all pro players on all three levels of the defense. Yet, what is not as well-known is that these superstars on defense were able to avoid injury in 2017.

The only star defensive players that didn’t play all sixteen regular season games for the Jaguars were Marcell Dareus and Telvin Smith. Dareus only played 14 games because of the trade from Buffalo to Jacksonville and sat out both teams bye weeks.

Last season Jacksonville got the benefit of avoiding the injury bug, unlike teams like the New York Giants. In no way am I wishing injury upon any of these great players, but expecting them to play all 16 games again in 2018 isn’t realistic.

With Watson and Luck returning, the Jaguars schedule just got a lot harder

Not only did Jacksonville benefit from being healthy all season, but they also benefitted from the injuries of other teams in the AFC South. Jacksonville took advantage of Indianapolis and Houston not having their stars quarterbacks and went 4-0 versus those two teams.

It would be shocking if the Jaguars repeated going undefeated against the Colts and Texans, not losing a single game to them. Also, Tennessee swept the Jaguars last year in their two meetings.

In addition, outside the divisional games, the schedule doesn’t get any easier. Jacksonville faces the NFC East, which is always one of the best divisions in the NFL. The NFC East features the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles, who only improved this offseason. Not to mention, Washington, Dallas, and the New York Giants will be in the NFC playoff hunt all season.

Once again, the Steelers appear on the Jaguars schedule. Pittsburgh will most likely want to send a message that they can beat Jacksonville, even on the road. Furthermore, as early as Week 2, the Jaguars have to face Tom Brady and the Patriots. Any game against Brady and Belichick could result in a loss on the record.

The last difficult matchup on the Jaguars schedule is a matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. Jacksonville will be in Kansas City for this game, which is one of the most difficult places to play in the entire NFL.

Kansas City has a chance to have a very explosive offense with gunslinger Patrick Mahomes under center and weapons the likes of Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt around him.

Jacksonville will still be the first or second-best team in the AFC South, but it should come as no shock if they don’t make the playoffs, or advance far if they do make the postseason.

19 Comments

  1. so the reason jags will take a step back is because of luck(who hasn’t thrown in a year) deshaun watson(please be ready for that sophomore slump) and mariota who really sucked last year. Our d depth is soooo much deeper with drafts of Bryan and Harrison. Online got better as well and bortles will have more targets than last year. This article seems like let me hate of the jags because everyone is riding the train. I am a biased duval fan but could not find one thing from this article that even makes sense

    • Amen. This article isnt original at all, talk about something else besides Blake Bortles being “bad” you uncreative sack. You could’ve copied and pasted this from somewhere else.

  2. This kid is in college and probably has no clue what is going on with the jags. Next article please

  3. This kid is from Baltimore who wrote this… riding the bitter train since we stomped them last year and beat them with a field goal due to their best d player commiting a penalty on the final play of the game. Lol Andrew luck is gonna hurt and if Watson is like every other running QB he will be injured during some of the season.

    • This kid happens to be my son and he is not a Ravens fan at all. Don’t assume just because someone is from a hometown that that is their favorite team.

      • Your son needs to write something original.
        Everything he said are the reasons the Jags wouldn’t win 5 games last year, then wouldn’t make the playoffs, or win the afc south. Also the reasons they wouldn’t advance past the 1st round, or beat the Steelers a 2nd time.
        Like someone else said, this seems like a copy and paste,and not taking any other factors into consideration makes him look like he doesn’t even understand sports.
        Luck hasn’t played in how long? And he’s just going to be elite right off the bat again?
        A running qb suffers a series injury last season, but is going to bounce back and remain healthy for 16 games?
        Riiiiiggghhhtttt….

  4. Hey Daniel, I totally agree with you on your analysis of the Jags.It seems this bozo made all of the negative points of why we’ll take a step back and not one positive comment on why we’ll actually be better. For one, Bortles will be in the same offensive system for the 2nd straight year under Hackett which means better continuity and progression, 2ndly better O-line play with the addition of Norwell, 3rdly, better weapons around Blake than at any point in his career. The additions of a real receiving threat at tight end like ASG and even better receiving options on the out side with Moncrief and Charm and a slimmed down Fournette and the Jags O might look more like the 98-99 Jags offense. So instead of focusing all of his negative comments on what the other teams in the South might and might not have he only focused on being a Jags hater like most of the National media is. This is the year where we turn the corner and shut up all the doubters and fools who predict our downfall!#GOJAGS!!!

  5. This dude could work for ESPN. Which in reality means they have the analytical ability of a five year old.

  6. This is hilarious. Bottles is the healthy now (played with hurt wrist) the Wrs who produced the most were rookies and are back, have a huge upgrade at TE with ASJ, Added Pro Bowl Guard to pave wave for Fournette who is primed for monster second year dropping 15 lbs, defense was also bolstered. Low side is 11-5. High side is 14-2. AFC champ and Super Bowl participant easy. Just jot guaranteeing SB win…YET!

  7. I can’t wait for this guy to eat his words, after the Jaguars have another great season. I’m betting on “crickets”…….

  8. I’m still trying to figure out how and when Mariota has established himself as a franchise QB …. I think he’s a competitior but so is everyone else in the NFL. The dude had 13 TDS and 16 Ints smh

  9. This article doesn’t really make sense due to the
    fact that we’ve gotten a lot more better when you
    look at our depth. We’ve improved literally at
    every position. And people won’t realize how much
    depth we actually have until the season starts ?
    This article seems like it was stolen from somewhere else

  10. Before the Ravens game Brian Billick said the Jags would not score a single point. They won 44-7. You are Brian Billick and this article is that game. You know nothing.

  11. Ok, I have several issues with this article. As many people know, the Jacksonville Jaguars made it to the Playoffs last season (FINALLY! TOOK THEM FUCKING LONG ENOUGH!) only to then be cheated out of a chance to play and potentially win our first Super Bowl. (Fucking Patriots and the fucking refs)
    Here are my issues with this piece:
    1. Bortles the “Worst” Quarterback in the NFL.
    Ok, firstly if he’s the WORST than why did we sign him to an extension for the next 3 years? Cause he finally has turned the corner and is better than before. Of course, he’s no Peyton Manning or Aaron Rogers, but at least he’s better. Secondly, Deston Watson is going to struggle this season after having an ACL injury, look at Fowler and how he struggled. Next Mariota will have an interesting year, the Titans have a new system of coaches and offensive/defensive coaches to work with. Andrew Luck has been in Europa for a year or more with shoulder problems, he’s not going to be swinging for the fences any time soon.
    2. Our defense being healthy.
    We may be the same or we may not. But so far we’ve acquired key pieces that’ll give any team a run for their money.
    3. Our schedule getting harder.
    Not really. the Texans and the Colts have to work their original super QB’s back into the fold before sending them in to become cannon fodder. Especially the Colts, their QB hasn’t thrown a football in almost a year or more, the staff isn’t going to throw him into the meat grinder after just getting him back.

    The only parts of the schedule that concern me are our games against the Eagles, Cowboys, and the Cheifs. Other than that, stop hating on them… HATERS!
    #JAGSBACKTOTHEPLAYOFFS!

  12. What’s obvious is this article was written by a college kid who doesn’t follow this team closely. Allen Hurns didn’t leave, he was cut because he wasn’t one of our top 4 WRs. Bortles has established himself as our QB and that he’s better than Mariotta, despite the authors cherry picking of stats.

    Luck & Watson have to PROVE themselves capable of performing against the leagues best pass defense, not the other way around.

    This is proof anyone can be “published” in the internet. ?

    • Great post, but you forgot to mention his lack of understanding search engines.
      Everything you mentioned, he could have written correctly with even the briefest of searches.

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