Nobody outside of Jacksonville seems to believe that the Jacksonville Jaguars have any chance of being good this year.
They base this belief on the sample of last season in which the Jaguars offense struggled mightily, yet still managed to win five games. By no means were the Jaguars a good football team last season, but nobody can make a logical argument that would suggest that they would be worse football team this season.
The Jaguars were hampered last year by bad coaching, a completely ineffective passing offense and poor special teams.
They have improved in all three areas that needed to be helped.
First, they fired highly ineffective head coach Jack Del Rio, who had worn out his welcome in Jacksonville. Del Rio was a lame duck coach last season who had assistants forced to work under the cloud of his lame duck regime. The good assistant coaches that Del Rio did have made the wise decision to jump ship before 2011, and he was forced to hire inexperienced assistants on the offensive side of the ball.
The Jaguars hired Mike Mularkey to take the reigns this offseason, and he responded by hiring a solid coaching staff geared towards improving the passing offense.
Mularkey and the Jaguars are expecting to see a big jump forward from second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert this season, and if he continues to play like he did in the preseason it will be a massive upgrade for the Jaguars this season at the quarterback position. Gabbert had a historically bad rookie year, but he still managed to lead the Jaguars to five wins.
The Jaguars also upgraded the wide receivers that Gabbert will throw the ball to this season. They paid big money to sign free agent receiver Laurent Robinson away from the Dallas Cowboys and used their first-round draft pick on the best receiver available in the draft, Justin Blackmon.
The Jaguars also significantly upgraded their special teams by using a third-round draft pick on punter Bryan Anger. Twice last year the Jaguars lost leads in games late because of poor punting, but they should not have that problem this season with Anger kicking.
The Jaguars have a good defense and having a punter who can flip field position can only help them keep their opponents off of the scoreboard.
I’m not saying that the Jaguars are ready to compete for a playoff spot, but it is wrong to suggest that they are going to be picking in the top five of the 2013 NFL Draft.
I expect the Jaguars to improve on their 5-11 record of last season and win somewhere in the neighborhood of eight games. It would be a step in the right direction for the Jaguars who are seeking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.