The 2012 Jacksonville Jaguars will not be the worst team in the NFL. It’s also a very good chance that they wont be the worse team in their division. However, it is safe to say that coming out the gate, they won’t be a very a good team. That doesn’t mean that they wont surprise some folks. They may even pull a couple of upsets this year. The Jags have always been that type of team: not quite good enough, but good enough to make some people stand up and take notice. They do possess one of the best and most consistent running backs in the league. They have a good young defense who should rank in the top 10 this season. They also have a chance to have a 1000 yard receiver since Jimmy Smith did it in 2005. But much of their success this year hinges on the play of second year quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, who got knocked down more than Humpty Dumpty. The new owner, business tycoon Shad Khan, has promised every person in ear shot of his voice, that the Jaguars will be a winner. It will be an uphill battle, but the road may not be as long as we may think. I think this division is wide open, and this is the perfect time for the Jags to strike.
Fantasy Football Studs: Maurice Jones-Drew, MJD, Mo Jones-Drew, Pocket Hercules, whatever you call him, is a fantasy stud. On a bad Jacksonville team, he rushed for over 1600 yards: the most in the league last year, and the most in his career since coming into the NFL in 2006. He’s a threat to score on the run and in the passing game. But, MJD is not happy and his absence from this year’s OTAs have caused a stir. Jones-Drew was the only stud on the team last year. Not so this season! The Jags drafted stud reveiver Justin Blackmon, who loves grabbing that pigskin out of the air. Unfortunately, he has been loving that bottle a little more, resulting in a couple of DUIs this off season. But if he puts down the bottle, which he has vowed to do, Blackmon will be a NFL stud for sure. The Jags also added Laurent Robinson, who was a bright spot for the Cowboys last year. Robinson and Blackmon could be the best receiving tandem the Jags have seen since Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell. Throw in another free agent receiver, Lee Evans, and TE Marcedes Lewis, and the Jaguars have a good receiving unit. That is something they have been sorely missing in recent years.
Area of Strength: We have already talked about why Maurice Jones-Drew is a stud. What makes him a stud is the same thing that makes the running game the strength of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is not only an effective, bruising runner, but he plays a big part in the passing game. He will pick up a blitz, which is crucial to a young inexperienced QB, and since his rookie year in 2006, MJD has averaged over 40 catches a season. There are some starting receivers in the league who don’t catch that many passes. Mike Thomas, a starting WR for the Jags last season, was the only Jags receiver who reached 40 catches last year with 44. Just one more than MJD.
Area of Weakness: The quarterbacking in Jacksonville is the worst part of the Jaguars team. I thought it was a huge mistake for the team to part ways with David Garrard before last season. I also thought getting rid of Byron Leftwich a few years ago was a mistake too. But I did, and still do believe that Gabbert is the future of this franchise. Even though I think this is the weakness of the team, I think Gabbert will show this year that he belongs in the NFL. He’s had to deal with the inconsistent play of the O-line. Also he didn’t have a chance to learn under a proven veteran. His time is coming.
2012 Marquee Matchups: The Jaguars have a challage in the home opener against the Houston Texans Week 2. After a bye week in Week 6, the Jags face Oakland, Green Bay, then Detroit. In December the face the entire AFC North in back to back games: Buffalo, New York Jets, Miami, then New England. It may be a rough ride for Jags fans.
All Things Jacksonville Jaguars: There are several ways to keep up with the 2012 Jacksonville Jaguars. Here are a few we like…
Apps: Jacksonvile Jaguars for iPhone (by doapp, inc); Marcedes Lewis has his own iPhone app (by The App Company) no ratings on this one though.
Fan Clubs: The official fan club of the Jacksonville Jaguars can be found on www.jaguars.com under fan zone.