Each day between now and post-Super Bowl Monday, we’ll roll out a get-to-the-point offseason plan for one NFL team. Today, the Jaguars; tomorrow, the Buccaneers. After that, we’ll see. Here’s our three-point plan for Jacksonville:
1. MAKE BLAKE BORTLES OVERDOSE ON GAME FILM
The Jaguars have to be on top of the world after watching Bortles during his second season as the starting quarterback. Bortles improved from 11 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions as a rookie to 35 and 18 in 2015. And he threw for 4,428 yards despite completing just 58.6 percent of his throws. That’s quite the leap. Now, the hard work starts. Too often, the Jaguars watched their young QB throw picks or made other mental errors in critical situations, which isn’t uncommon for second-year players. However, with those mistakes come valuable teaching tools. Bortles has a receiving crew of burners and possession guys who can stay together for years to come. With a little fine-tuning and watching film until the cows come home, the Jaguars could be set at the position for at least the next decade.
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2. FIX THE DEFENSE. NOW.
Bradley is a defensive whiz, but that unit is far behind the Jaguars’ offense.
Head coach Gus Bradley came over from the Seattle Seahawks with a proven track record of coaching up strong defenses. So, it’s a head-scratcher to see that the Jaguars slipped into the bottom 10 in the league in total yards allowed and passing-yards allowed, while also ranking second-last in scoring defense. How does that happen? Well, mainly thanks to underperforming pieces like Andre Branch, Chris Clemons and Sergio Brown. That won’t do. Despite the fact he just got a contract extension through 2017, Bradley’s time in Jacksonville will come to an end in a hurry if he doesn’t find a way to shore up a unit that allowed 50-plus points by two different opponents in 2015.
3. FIND ANOTHER RELIABLE OPTION AT RUNNING BACK
The Jaguars may need to draft more help at running back a year after taking Yeldon.
Rookie T.J. Yeldon performed well at times in 2015, but he was hampered a tad by injuries and still carries the stigma of being an Alabama running back. It appears Nick Saban makes sure their best days are spent at the college level, and as a result they often don’t have much left by the time they slip on a pro uniform. Veteran Toby Gerhart hasn’t been able to stay on the field long enough to be a steady contributor, and primary backup Denard Robinson is fast but has ball-security issues that will land him a spot on the waiver wire if he’s not careful. Using a draft pick on a player who is dual threat as a speedster in open space and as a pass catcher out of the backfield would give Jacksonville one of the league’s most dangerous offenses.