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Jaguars 2018-2019 season preview: Super Bowl contenders or pretenders?

Hunter Horstman

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With UNF Student Government selling Jacksonville Jaguar tickets on July 17 and the 18, and with training camp right around the corner, NFL football is coming back very soon.

Right now the Jaguars, like many teams, are going through organized team activities and minicamps right now in preparation for the upcoming season.  Last season was a huge success for the organization, as the Jags finished first in the AFC South Division with a 10-6 record and made a few upsets in the playoffs over the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Finally, they also lost a heartbreaker to the New England Patriots in the AFC conference championships with a score of 24-20.

There has been a lot of talk within the city of Jacksonville and the NFL: can this Jaguar team make it all the way to the Super Bowl this upcoming year? Are they Super Bowl contenders… or just pretenders?

Contenders:

The Jaguars have a lot of reasons why they think they can be the top dogs in the NFL.  Namely, they had one of the best all-around defenses, ranking second overall in total defense, ranking first in passing defense, second in interceptions, second in sacks and third overall in forced fumbles.

All the starters on defense, aside from a slot cornerback, are returning to the Jaguars next season, so we should expect the defense to have another breakout year this year.  Some of the key players on this defense are Calais Campbell, who finished the 2017 season with 14.5 sacks, and Telvin Smith, who led the team in tackles with 76.

Another big reason the Jaguars have serious potential on being Super Bowl contenders is their run game.

With Leonard Fournette finishing the season second overall among rookies for rushing and eighth overall in the league he will have another great season coming up.  Now that he has experience under his belt he will have the knowledge of finding the extra yard or two for every carry. With Fournette’s great running game, that leaves less pressure for quarterback Blake Bortles to make all the plays.  It will also keep the defense honest, not knowing whether to expect a run play or a pass play.

Look out for another great year for Jacksonville with their run game and their defense.

Pretenders:

To win a super bowl, it is almost a necessity that a team has a star quarterback.  Let’s be honest— it’s probably the most important position in the game. Every position is important but with the quarterback calling all the shots and making the plays on offense it’s hard to debate.  

The Jaguars have always had quarterback struggles. They finally found Blake Bortles to be their guy a few years ago, but he has never been an all-star. Sure, he has had a few great plays and games, but he is also known for messing up in key moments of the game. Even with the great year that the Jaguars had this past season, Bortles was slightly below average. He ranked twentieth in quarterback ratings in the League. Not bad, but not good either. He also had less than 100 yards of passing in his playoff game against the Buffalo Bills. If the Jaguars really want to have a shot next year, Blake Bortles needs to have the best season of his career.

The AFC South was weak last year as well. The Indianapolis Colts star quarterback Andrew Luck was out with a shoulder injury, though he will be back at full strength this upcoming season.

With the Houston Texans having a bad year last year, head coach Bill O’Brian is looking to head back to the playoffs. He thinks that Deshaun Watson will have an absolute breakout sophomore year in the League and with stars like JJ Watt and Deandre Hopkins, it’s hard not to think that the Texans will have a great season. Finally, the Tennessee Titans signing big-name players like Malcolm Butler and Dion Lewis in free agency. They also have Kevin Byard who led the League in takeaways last year with a total of 10. Look for a great season for the Titans.

Finally, even though a lot of players are returning next year, they did lose one key player: Allen Robinson signed with the Chicago Bears this offseason. Allen Robinson was one of the Jaguars best receivers about two years ago, but he was out for most of the season last year with an injury. He will be missed in Jacksonville, though it begs the question: can another receiver step up to take his place? The Jaguars drafted D.J. Chark in the second round in this year’s draft. Hopefully, he is the guy the Jaguars need.

With all these statistics and predictions, it is hard to say how the Jaguars will do this year.  The team is looking forward to having a great training camp coming up in the next month and hopefully another run in the playoffs this year.


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Jaguars 2018-2019 season preview: Super Bowl contenders or pretenders?