Some things are becoming abundantly clear, as we are already a quarter of the way through the 2015 NFL season. The Jaguars’ head coach, Gus Bradley, who so boldly stated “the team is built” just prior to this season, is now on the hot seat. While coaching seems to be a weakness for this team, there does appear to be a lot more talent on the roster than there has been in years past.
Let’s start with Gus Bradley. As I stated earlier he is on the hottest of seats right now. He was 7-25 as the Jags’ head coach coming into the 2015 season, which is no where near good enough, but every one was willing to give him a pass until this year. This was the year that the team had to start winning; this was the year they could compete for a play off spot. Four games in and the Jaguars are 1-3 and have lost two games that they likely should have won. The team is improved at virtually every position across the board, but they have lost two games, to the Panthers and the Colts — and even though they played well enough to win they still ended up losing. In both of those games the Jaguars failed to put up any points in the second half. How does a team move the ball consistently in the first half, yet they can’t manage to do anything in the second? The opposing teams come out of the locker room at the start of the second half and they are ready to go, where as the Jags come out and look flat. People can debate all day about what the issue is, but the bottom line is if the Jaguars come out of Tampa this week with a loss, Bradley might not make it to the end of the season as the Jaguars’ head coach. It’s unfortunate because if the Jaguars had won one of those two games, then the mood would be totally different. They would be 2-2 and fans would be feeling good, but they didn't win those games, and the fans are most definitely not feeling good. Everyone loves Gus and his cheerful spirit, but his days in Jax may be numbered.
While the coaching situation is grim, there are many facets of this team that are far from grim. Blake Bortles is showing that he is the answer at quarterback that the Jaguars have so desperately been searching for. Bortles had a rough rookie season, a season that many in the Jaguars’ organization attributed to an injury that he played though for much of that season. Coming in to year 2 fans didn't know what to expect from Bortles. Well, he has been pretty solid, to say the least. He has had some consistency issues and at times he can’t get the offense going in the second half, but through four games he has thrown six touchdowns and only three interceptions, while averaging 249 yards a game passing. Not only is he getting it done through the air, but he also has seven first downs rushing, showing he has the guts to take this team to heights that they have not reached in some time. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns have impressed thus far this season as well, as they have combined for 37 catches, 644 yards, and four touchdowns. The passing game has been far better than it was last year and the offensive line has held up against the pass rush much more consistently than they did a year ago. Once the Jaguars are at full strength, with Julius Thomas, Marqise Lee, and Rashad Greene back in the line up, this passing game has a chance to be really, really good.
The Jaguars’ young offense has shown a lot of promise through four weeks, but we must remember that they are just that, young, and there will be some growing pains.
Time to take a look at the defense. Despite not having their best player in Sen’Derrick Marks and their first round pick, Dante Fowler, the Jaguars’ defense has still been pretty good. The run defense has been stout, giving up only 3.1 yards per carry and allowing just 81 rushing yards a game. Conversely the Jaguars’ pass defense is giving up way to many big plays, as opponents are throwing for 278 yards a game against the Jags. In addition to giving up too many yards to their opponents through the air, they also have given up six passing touchdowns to only one interception. The Jags have to figure out how to slow down opposing quarterbacks, who have eaten them up this year.
While being a 1-3 team never feels good, there is reason for optimism. The young players on this team are making plays and becoming more consistent and the Jags have been in every game except 1. They could easily be 2-2 or even 3-1 — but they are not, and that falls on the coach. Gus Bradley has to turn this ship around, and quick, because if the Jaguars cannot defeat the 1-3 Buccaneers this week, he might be the one walking the plank.
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