LAST YEAR: Stumbled out of gate again (1-13 in September in last four years) and finished with double-digit losses for sixth consecutive season. Offense was one of worst in league, with third-year starter Blake Bortles showing few signs of being franchise QB behind shaky offensive line. Defense was solid at times, but forced measly six turnovers and allowed 25 points per game. Special teams were debacle. So season that started with high expectations for floundering franchise ended with coach Gus Bradley being awkwardly fired following ninth straight loss, which came at Houston in mid-December. With NFL-low 17 wins last four years, many believed owner Shad Khan would opt for complete makeover. Instead, he promoted offensive line coach Doug Marrone to head coach and brought in former Jaguars and Giants coach Tom Coughlin to oversee football operations. Jaguars also retained offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and defensive coordinator Todd Wash, moves that indicate Khan and general manager Dave Caldwell believe Bradley and always-positive approach were more problematic than scheme and personnel.
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IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: DE Calais Campbell, CB A.J. Bouye, SS Barry Church, LT Branden Albert, rookie RB Leonard Fournette.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: DT Sen’Derrick Marks, TE Julius Thomas, DE Jared Odrick, OL Luke Joeckel.
CAMP NEEDS: Marrone and Coughlin are trying to build tougher, more physical team, and it starts with offensive line. They seek one of league’s top rushing attacks, which is why they traded for veteran Albert, drafted Fournette fourth overall and added offensive lineman Cam Robinson in second round. Belief is better ground game will ease burden on Bortles, who has averaged 37 passes per game in first three seasons. Progress will best be measured in full pads and maybe more so during joint practices with New England and Tampa Bay early in training camp.
EXPECTATIONS: Hard to envision Jaguars making significant turnaround in Marrone’s first year. Even Marrone acknowledges it takes time to implement new culture and develop chemistry. Ultimate goal for 2017 will be deciding whether Bortles is long-term solution or if Jaguars need to find replacement in free agency in what appears to be deep QB draft class.
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