5 Keys: the 2015 Jaguars
1) The most important position in all of sports is the quarterback. The Jaguars need second year quarterback, Blake Bortles, to progress. While progress is required, he does not need to develop into an All-Pro QB in his second year for the Jaguars to have success. What he does need to do is cut down on the turnovers. He can’t have games where he throws 2 pick sixes; he can't have games where he throws 3 interceptions and only one touchdown. All indications are that he has been putting in the work. He has worked on his footwork and his release throughout the offseason. It's clear that he is saying and doing all the right things, but now it's time for his hard work to show up on the field. He doesn't need to be great for the Jaguars to have a good year, he just needs to be serviceable.
2) The offensive line has gone through a major overhaul over the past two seasons. There are potentially three new starters in this group. They have now have skilled players and depth at virtually every position on the line. Adding players like Jermey Parnell and A.J. Cann gives this group a nastiness that they did not have last year. The biggest key for this group is to develop continuity quickly. Luckily for the Jaguars, they were able to add one of the most highly regarded offensive line coaches in the game, Doug Marrone, who will look to get the most out of this talented group. 3rd year left tackle, Luke Joeckel, has got to become the dominant blocker that the Jaguars drafted him to be. If the offensive line can come together quickly and show improvement then the Jaguars and their quarterback will be in much better shape than they were last year.
3) The Jaguars’ running back group has far more depth than in previous years. It is expected that rookie running back, T.J. Yeldon, will get the lion’s share of the carries, and the rest will be split between a combination of Denard Robinson, Toby Gerhart, and Bernard Pierce, while Storm Johnson and Corey Grant will compete just to make the roster. Yeldon appears to have all the skills required to become a feature back in the NFL. He has vision, patience, speed, power, lateral quickness and natural instincts with the ball. At this point he is a lock to win the starting job. If he and any combination of the other backs are able to consistently pick up 3-5 yards and have an occasional explosive play then the Jaguars will be in good shape with their running game, which will in turn take some pressure off of Bortles.
4) The linebacker group MUST stay healthy. There is very little depth in this position group and one injury could cripple the Jaguars defense. The three starters, Paul Poslusny, Telvin Smith, and Dan Skuta, have the talent to be a good group, but if one of them goes down then the Jaguars will have to rely on unproven and untested players to hold the fort. That is not something the Jaguars can afford at this point in their development. So, the starters are good, but it is paramount to this teams success that they stay healthy.
5) Someone or a combination of someones must step up at free safety. In Gus Bradley’s defense the free safety is one of if not the most important position. The Jaguars brought in Sergio Brown and drafted James Sample to create a competition for the starting free safety spot. Unfortunately for Sample and the Jags, he went down with an injury and will miss much of training camp. If either player, or a combination of the two is able to play well, consistently, then the Jaguars defense has a chance to be very good. The lack of quality play at free safety has plagued the Jaguars for some time. A consistent presence at this position would also help strong safety, John Cyprien, to blossom into the punishing playmaker that he has the potential to be.
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