After amassing an impressive collection of young talent, including Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson, the Jacksonville Jaguars, many have said, should take the next step in 2016.
After going an abysmal 9-39 from 2012-14, the Jags went a relatively respectable 5-11 last season. This season, however, the Jags are aiming for their first winning campaign since 2007 – and they have the talent to do it.
“Well, after awhile, when we’ve all said it, it’s no longer, ‘They could be that team.’ Now it’s turned into, ‘They need to be that team,’” NFL on FOX and NFL Network analyst Charles Davis said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “That got cemented when their owner, Shahid Khan, said, ‘Okay, I’ve been patient. I’ve let this play out, I’ve let administration stay in place, coaching staff stay in place, I believe in them – but I need to see results this year.’ And that’s where they are.”
Jacksonville was highly active in free agency and added several talented played this offseason, including Malik Jackson and Prince Amukamara.
“They had a terrific offseason,” Davis said. “Look at the free-agent singings. Go to Denver, get a defensive lineman. Go to the Giants, get a corner. How about the draft? You end up with Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey – arguably two of the top three players in the entire draft. For weird reasons they end up getting them, but they do. They’ve got them now. Add that to the different things they’ve been doing, here you go. It’s all set there. Bortles continues to elevate. They’ve got to show that they’re going to compete in the AFC South – and the AFC South was the worst division in football last year. But based on the offseason, it’s now one of the most intriguing divisions in football. I’m not going to say best; I said intriguing.”
Take a look around the division. All four teams improved.
“(Andrew) Luck, they added people around him to try to keep him upright and sign him to big money in Indianapolis,” Davis said. “You saw what Houston did, going and getting a quarterback in (Brock) Osweiler. We just talked about Jacksonville. Tennessee, I thought they manipulated the draft as well as anyone to try and add people around not just (Marcus) Mariota, but to make the team better overall, and they’re going to play a different style. They’ve announced what they’re going to play. They want to play big-boy football. Big guys upfront blocking for big running backs to try to take the pressure off the quarterback. Now we have some great intriguing storylines in the AFC South. But in Jacksonville, the owner has said he expects them to contend. There’s a little extra pressure on them now that they have to play to that level.”
Jacksonville opens the season at home against Green Bay on Sept. 11.