When the Jacksonville Jaguars were first inaugurated into the NFL in 1995, they came into the league as an underestimated AFC opponent that many assumed would have to endure several years of inconsistencies and expected failures. Although the Jaguars did have a forgettable first year in the NFL when they went 4-12, they would quickly rise as a prominent team in the NFL thanks to the ingenious teachings of Tom Coughlin. From 1996 to 1999 the Jaguars made the playoffs four years in a row and even made it to the AFC Championship game twice during those brief years of success. While the Jaguars eventually lost their stride in NFL, they proved that with an intuitive coach, they could be supremely successful. Unfortunately, the Jaguars moments of glory have long since been forgotten as they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2007 and haven’t won in the divisional round of the playoffs since 1999. Despite having high draft picks the last few seasons, the Jaguars have failed to find a competent passer that can remain vigilant and consistent to give them a chance to valiantly compete.
Coming in to the 2013 regular season, the Jaguars appeared to be the abysmal franchise that they were last year. In their first eight games, the Jaguars couldn’t muster more than 20 points of offense in a single game while their decrepit defense relinquished an average of 33 points per game. Although five of the Jaguars first eight losses came at the hands of prestigious opponents who are currently projected to either win their division or make the playoffs, the fact that the Jaguars lacked any semblance of emotionally driven competitiveness is what ultimately allowed them to be dominated game in and game out. However, in their last five games, the Jaguars have shown signs of vigor and resilience that have been absent from this once lifeless team since last season. Granted, the Jaguars last four victories were a result of them playing teams that were sub .500, but even so the Jaguars appeared to have made some drastic changes, especially to their once non existent offensive attack.
Of course, when an offense is failing to hit its stride, the most obvious course of action is to figure out if a teams starting passer is capable of leading his team to success. While the Jaguars tried to allow Blaine Gabbert to spread his wings after the abysmal season he had last year, he once again failed to show any signs of improvement. Eventually, the Jaguars allowed back up passer Chad Henne to take the reigns of the offense. Although Henne isn’t exactly a prolific passer in his own right, his skill set and scoring abilities are at least adequate in comparison to what Gabbert was bringing to the table. Surprisingly, Henne has been fairly accurate, as he has completed 60.2% of his passes for just over 2,400 yards. With that being said, Henne lacks the poise and patients to be the Jaguars long-term passer as he has thrown 10 interceptions to just eight touchdowns. Luckily, the Jaguars will have a plethora of options at the quarterback position in the upcoming draft that will allow them to have moderate success going into next season.
However, assuming the Jaguars can rejuvenate their offense with some talented young prospects, they’ll have to address their paper-thin defense if they hope to be a well-balanced and successful franchise. Although the Jaguars defense has done just enough recently to allow their team to be victorious against less than stellar opponents, it won’t be enough to garner them decisive wins against better developed competitors. This year, the Jaguars have allowed 256.2 passing yards and 126.8 rushing yards per game (ranked 24th and 28th in the league respectively). Their inability to stop opposing offenses is what has condemned this team to being irrelevant before the regular season even got underway. Without a tenacious pass rush and a disciplined secondary, the Jaguars will continue to relinquish big scores no matter who their opponent is.
When all is said and done, the Jaguars have at least shown minimal signs of improvement and have found a passable form of offense that as allowed them to edge out teams that are done for the season. However, if the Jaguars wish to be supremely competitive in the long run, they need to rework their insufficient defense and more importantly, they need to find a long term quarterback who can confidently guide them through these dark times. While it may take time to find the recipe for success, the Jaguars of old have proven that with the right leadership and talent they can easily become an impressive competitor and not simply the laughing stock of the NFL.