By Brian Kalchik @RantsportsBrian on April 29, 2014
The Jacksonville Jaguars finished third in the AFC South last season and this was actually considered an improvement. Coach Gus Bradley has started to implement what made him successful in Seattle with Jacksonville. Both sides of the ball need upgrades, but the Jaguars are heading in the right direction. With 2014 being a crucial season for the Jaguars, here are five players facing make-or-break seasons.
As the No. 1 receiver in Jacksonville the past two seasons, Cecil Shorts III has looked the part but hasn't played the part. Shorts hasn't had a season with 70 or more catches so far with poor quarterback play around him. If Shorts wants to enter the discussion as a top receiver in the NFL, he will have to step up big-time this season regardless of who is throwing the ball to him.
There is no doubting that the Jaguars will find their franchise quarterback this year in the draft, but as of now, Chad Henne is the starting quarterback. Henne hasn't thrown for more than 3,500 yards in each of his first two seasons in Jacksonville, and he is a career below .500 quarterback.
After a promising start to his career, tight end Marcedes Lewis has seen his production slip the past few years. Although the quarterback play had much to do with it, Lewis had the second-worst season of his career last year with only 25 receptions. Without a better 2014 campaign, Lewis could very well be shown the door in the 2015 offseason.
One of the biggest draft busts in the past five years, defensive end Tyson Alualu has been terrible for the Jaguars. Alualu has not recorded four or more sacks in his four seasons in the NFL and could very well get the Blaine Gabbert treatment if he has another poor season this year.
When healthy and in the right frame of mind, Justin Blackmon has shown flashes of brilliance, but these moments are few and far between. Provided that Blackmon is reinstated this coming season, the wide receiver will have to be a major producer on the field and stay out of trouble off of it.
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