The Jaguars have gone from 12-4 and a few plays away from Superbowl LII to 5-11 and the cellar of the AFC South yet again. During the preseason, many pundits were picking the Jags to make the Superbowl, riding the backs of one of the best defensive units in the league in 2017. The Jags defense wasn’t the problem though, finishing 2nd against the pass and 5th in total defense this year. The offense, however, is a different story, and it all started in the 2018 offseason.
The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Blake Bortles to a $54 million extension during the 2018 offseason and shocked the world. Ever since Bortles was drafted as the third overall pick in 2014, he has been a large disappointment. Posting a career completion percentage of 59.3% and a quarterback rating of 45.8, he is considered one of the larger draft busts in the modern NFL era. Even then, Jacksonville decided to stick with continuity and try to win with the defense, bailing out Bortles. It’s safe to say that formula didn’t pan out the same way it did in 2017. But all of the blame cannot fall on Bortles’ shoulders. The front office and coaching staffs are also at fault.
When Allen Robinson was lost for the 2017 season with a torn ACL, Jags fans everywhere were dismayed. The only glimmer of hope on their offense was gone, leaving them at the mercy of Allen Hurns, Marquise Lee, and Dede Westbrook. For 2017, that was enough, but the offense was still lackluster. So when the Jags front office decided not to resign either of their top two wide receivers in free agency or sign a big name, this left many fans expecting the Jags to go after a wide receiver in the 1st round. Instead, they selected Taven Bryan, a defensive tackle who totaled 20 tackles and 1 sack while playing a reserve role in 2018. In the second round, they selected D.J. Chark, an intriguing prospect from LSU, but he finished the season with just 14 catches for 174 yards. Add on top of that an oft-injured Leonard Fournette and the Jacksonville offense stalled. Blake Bortles was benched in Week 13 in favor of Cody Kessler, a former starter for the Cleveland Browns. However, after a horrid first-half performance against the Dolphins in Week 16, Kessler was benched and Bortles finished out the rest of the season as the starting QB.
At this point, the Jacksonville Jaguars are one of the most disappointing teams of the 2018 season. With the ownership and Leonard Fournette at odds, due to his now voided guarantees in his contract, uncertainty at QB, and a less than remarkable group of pass catchers, Jacksonville finds themselves in a pivotal offseason. Their Superbowl window is closing, and they need to find a way to pry it back open to restore hope in the fan base. And they need to do it quickly.
Garrison is the Director of Sports Commentaries for the Cad.