ESPN released its first FPI (Football Power Index) rankings for the 2020 NFL season, and as apparently everyone else in the world expected, the Jaguars came in dead last. Now, let me preface what I'm about to say by telling you this team is nowhere near contending at the highest level, but you already knew that. With the Titans and Colts having the two easiest schedules in football, according to the FPI rankings, the Jags will have a tough time competing in the division race. And even if they are able to come out with a wild card spot, the AFC is quite a gauntlet. Still, the Jaguars are not a team I would expect to bottom out in the NFL.
The defensive side of the ball was the team's most significant question mark last season. The roster looks different, but I can't imagine this team losing substantially more games. They lost key players on defense in defensive end Calais Campbell, and cornerback AJ Bouye, but what the front office did in the draft and free agency can't be discredited. Pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue might be poised to sit out, but the Jaguars have a budding star in Josh Allen. He was more effective than Ngakoue last year anyway, and general manager Dave Caldwell added another promising edge player in K'lavon Chaisson. On the outside, CJ Henderson looks like he can be the lockdown guy the team is looking for. The interior of the defensive line got upgraded through free agency and the draft. And as for the linebackers, adding Joe Schobert in the middle should allow Myles Jack to play to his potential on the outside.
So, where does all the uncertainty stem from? The offense. It seems to be a national consensus that second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew has no chance to be a quality starting quarterback, and I can't seem to figure out why. Much of the national media clings to the notion the Jags are tanking for Trevor Lawrence, and that baffles me as well. The mustachioed rookie QB showed us last year that he could win games with a less than favorable supporting cast, and in some unfavorable situations. There were inconsistencies, sure, but shouldn't the overall idea be that a young QB should progress after gaining some experience? Not to mention, I think the offense improved just as much, if not more than, the defense.
The bottom line is, the vast majority of the media is underestimating Jaguars. What's new? Again, I don't see them contending, but to have them as underdogs in every single game is ridiculous. After seeing what Dwayne Haskins did last year, you're going to tell me the Redskins are better than the Jaguars? Several bottom-dwelling teams have more concerning question marks. The Jaguars are going to prove a lot of people wrong in 2020.
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