Well, it’s finally over. After a season of shouting at the TV, calling for Gus Bradley’s head and a little too much alcohol on game-days, it’s finally the offseason, the only season that the Jags can succeed in. This season was tiresome and frustrating beyond belief, but there were good moments too. With all that being said, let’s take a few minutes and relive the 2016 season. Instead of the normal format, I’m going to go through every position group and grade it based on performance and expectations.
Not much to say on this one, especially if you're a frequent reader. I’ve criticized Blake Bortles for the majority of the season for his inability to throw the ball accurately, his poor decision-making and tendency to turn the ball over in critical situations. He failed to top 60% completion for the third consecutive season and accumulated 16 interceptions and 6 lost fumbles. These numbers are absolutely unacceptable in the modern NFL and are a product of his flaws as a player. Yes, the last two weeks of the season were better in terms of mechanics and accuracy, but were those performances just flukes or are they signs of consistent mechanics? We’ve gotta find out next season. Bortles is most likely going to start next season, but we’ve known that all year. Next year could be his final year in a Jaguars uniform If he can’t perform again.
Running Back: C
This position is hard to judge. TJ Yeldon did not look good as a running back, although his 50 receptions look nice on paper. Chris Ivory looked solid when he wasn’t injured, but he would still have games where he did nothing. His injuries also posed a problem, as he only played in 11 games with 117 rushes. Blake Bortles was our third leading rusher, as the other backs didn’t produce much until the season was already over. I think that the problem with this position was more due to scheme and lack of a passing attack. An offense without a passing game or any creativity isn’t going to do much on the ground. I think Yeldon and Ivory can be our backs next year and deserve another chance, but they need to produce and stay healthy for that to stay the case.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: B-
Another difficult group to judge, the receivers and tight ends had excellent performers and massive underperformers throughout their ranks. Julius Thomas and Allen Hurns were two of the biggest disappointments of this season. The two combined for only 75 catches and dealt with injuries all season, with Hurns playing in 11 games and Thomas in 9. Allen Robinson was not as good as we hoped he would be, but he flashed the dominance that he showed last season and improved as the season went on. His problem rooted more from effort than skill, a problem which probably had its roots in the coaching staff and his incapable quarterback. This group also had some good performers in the lesser-known names. Marqise Lee was our best receiver this season, plain and simple. He set career highs with 16 games played, 63 catches, 851 yards, 13.5 YPC and 3 TDs. He was Bortles’ most trusted target outside of Allen Robinson and actually put forth the effort that Robinson lacked. Bryan Walters, Neal Sterling and Ben Koyack also made an impact when called upon by the staff. Overall, we have a deep roster at these positions, but the top players have to perform better.
Offensive Line: B
The offensive line was actually pretty good this year, especially before the injuries took their toll. The interior of the line shined, as Brandon Linder continued to excel despite a switch to C and Luke Joeckel and AJ Cann were good in their guard spots. Joeckel earned a 1-year extension in my eyes, as long as he continues to play guard and if he’s healthy. The tackles were much more questionable, however. Jeremy Parnell and Kelvin Beachum accounted for 20 penalties combined and led the team in penalties and penalty yards per game. Parnell had a serious holding problem, being flagged 7 times for the penalty during the season. Beachum tended to jump a lot, earning him 6 false starts. I think that Parnell needs to be replaced, but the other players can make a really good line if Beachum improves his play and Joeckel stays healthy.
Defensive Line: B+
Another up-and-down group (see a trend here?). Dante Fowler was the biggest letdown of the group, as some people expected a raw player (a rookie, really) to come in and produce. He did get 4 sacks and improved over the course of the season, but his 8 penalties and consistenly undisciplined play hurt the team more than it helped. Yannick Ngakoue made a huge impact as a pass rusher, earning 8 sacks, but wasn’t great when asked to defend the run. The best defensive linemen on the team were Abry Jones, who replaced Roy Miller at NT after an injury, and big-money free agent Malik Jackson. These D-Linemen actually created a force to be reckoned with, which is a huge reason why the defense improved so much from last season.
Paul Posluszny and Telvin Smith were absolutely insane this year. I thought that this was Poz’s last season as a Jag, but he played well above my expectations this season. He improved in coverage and still led the team in tackles. However, Telvin Smith claims the title of best linebacker for the team. He is insanely fast and always gives maximum effort. He’s great against the run but also a fantastic coverage linebacker who has the tendency to make plays. Dan Skuta wasn’t great and Myles Jack didn’t get to play much, but it didn’t matter much because the scheme mostly played 2 linebackers. These two were outstanding in 2016.
To start, Ramsey is a monster and there’s no denying it. He’s physical but smooth, aggressive but careful, polished but freakish. He’s an A+ and a future Pro Bowler once he learns to catch INTs consistently. On the other side, Prince Amukamura was a good #2 and was able to stay relatively healthy this season, so hopefully that continues to 2017. Johnathan Cyprien improved significantly as a player in 2016, although he still isn’t great in coverage. He’s a monster tackler who loves to come up and play in the box and hit people. He can cover short to mid-range zones, but struggled when asked to play man coverage or deep coverage. The new head coach for the Jags will have to adapt to his flaws and maximize his potential as a player if he is to stay in Jax. Tashaun Gipson wasn’t BAD, per say, but he was a disappointment because he wasn’t able to create turnovers like he did in the past. He covered well but only recorded 1 interception at a spot that should be able to pick off more passes. He was usually the culprit whenever big plays happened against us, which makes him look even worse than he was.
Special Teams: C
Jason Myers and Brad Nortman were good this season. Not great, but good. However, the special teams units as a whole were very bad and were penalized far more than they should have been. They were undisciplined and sometimes looked lost. That's all there really is to say about them.
1. The 2016 draft class was really good. Jalen Ramsey was a monster, Yannick Ngakoue produced and created good pressure throughout the year, and Sheldon Day and Myles Jack played well when they actually got playing time. Anyone who thought Caldwell should have been fired with Bradley can look at this class (along with the overall talent on the team) and see that he’s done a solid job as GM.
2. I think Mike Smith is the best pick for HC. I’m not a fan of offensive head coaches, as I think a good head coach should trust his offense to a good coordinator. Smith has experience as a HC, has coached in Jacksonville before and has produced good defenses on multiple occasions. However, I think we need a big name hire at OC if Smith comes on. None of this Jedd Fisch or Greg Olsen bullshit, that was a huge reason that Bradley failed and it can cause any good HC to fail. We won’t get McDaniels or Shanahan as an OC, but there are other names out there that are better than what we’ve had in the Gus Bradley era.
3. The draft is going to be a crapshoot this year. There’s no defensive prospect besides Myles Garrett that I really want, but he’ll probably be gone by four. The OT talent isn’t great, so drafting one at 4 might be a reach. I have no idea what Dave and the new coach are going to do with this pick.
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