2012 Record: 2-14
No Pressure on Defense
If Gus Bradley can do for the Jaguars' defense what he did in Seattle, he'll be Coach of the Year for 2013, without question.
The Jaguars were the worst defense in the league at finishing pass plays with a sack or a pick; a measly 5.77 percent success rate.
The Jaguars were dead last in sacks in 2012, finishing the year with 20 as a team. That total is five behind the second lowest total (Oakland), and half a sack worse than J.J. Watt as an individual.
Jacksonville also had the fifth-worst third down percentage on defense, allowing opponents to convert 41.4 percent of the time. This lack of pressure, and lack of ability to make a timely stop, made it easy for opponents to score 27.8 PPG on them, fourth highest in the league. No opponent scored less than 17 points against them.
Offense Puts Pressure on Own Defense
Maybe it isn't entirely the defense's fault. A lot of accountability goes to the offense, which was piloted by the still-undeveloped Blaine Gabbert (9 TD, 6 INT in 10 starts) and the average Chad Henne (11 TD, 11 INT over 6 starts).
Maurice Jones-Drew missed 10 games due to a foot injury, and still led the team in rushing yards with 414. His surrogate, Rashad Jennings, ran for 283 yards on 101 carries for a pathetic 2.8 YPA. The team had a mean of 3.8 YPA, ninth worst in the league.
On offense, Jacksonville had the second worst third down percentage, converting just 29.63 percent of the time. It's easy to see why the defense gave up excesses of ground and points: they were worn ragged.
2013 Projected Wins: 4.5
Top 3 Rookies
-Luke Joeckel, OT (1/2): Was thought to be the consensus top pick before the Chiefs got Eric Fisher; dominating strength and brilliant pass blocking made him highly sought after.
-Jonathan Cyprien, S (2/33): Aggressive, hawking safety has the relentlessness needed to engage ball carriers, but coverage range isn't known to cover sideline-to-sideline.
-Dwayne Gratz, CB (3/64): Good physical corner to have against the run, especially with block shedding, but struggles to avoid getting beat by receivers over the top.
In Bradley's attempt to rebuild the "Legion of Boom" in North Florida, he's parted ways with key elements of last season's crummy defense.
Corner Aaron Ross and safety Dawan Landry were released outright. Veterans Derek Cox and Terrence Knighton also flew the coop. Joining the new-look defense are linebacker Geno Hayes, run-stopping DT Roy Miller, and defensive backs Alan Ball and Marcus Trufant, who complement a secondary-heavy draft class.
Jones-Drew gets a new backup after Jennings wasn't retained, with veteran Justin Forsett coming in from Houston. Of course, Bradley knows him well from Seattle. Former Browns wideout Mohamed Massaquoi also joins the fray, after Laurent Robinson (11 TD for Dallas in 2011, 0 in 2012) wasn't re-signed.
Potential Starting Lineup
QB - Blaine Gabbert
RB - Maurice Jones-Drew
FB - Will Ta'ufo'ou
WR - Cecil Shorts
WR - Justin Blackmon
TE - Marcedes Lewis
LT - Eugene Monroe
LG - Will Rackley
C - Brad Meester
RG - Uche Nwaneri
RT - Luke Joeckel
DE - Tyson Alualu
DT - Sen'Derrick Marks
DT - Roy Miller
DE - Jason Babin
OLB - Russell Allen
MLB - Paul Posluszny
OLB - Geno Hayes
CB - Marcus Trufant
CB - Dwayne Gratz
FS - Dwight Lowery
SS - Jonathan Cyprien
K - Josh Scobee
P - Bryan Anger
LS - Jeremy Cain
2013 at a Glance
As the Seahawks' defensive coordinator in 2012, Bradley micromanaged a group that led the league in least points allowed (15.3 PPG), was fifth in creating turnovers (31), and third in opposing passer rating (71.8).
Looking at the Jaguars' defensive woes, you can see why he'd be a wanted commodity.
The most efficient portion of that defense was the "Legion of Boom" secondary, with corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
The quartet combined for 14 interceptions, 8 of which went the vociferous Sherman.
It's no secret how much Bradley treasured that secondary, and how much he realizes a defense is only as good as its last line of defense.
Through both the draft and veteran free agency, Jacksonville added seven secondary players, signifying where Bradley will begin his relief effort.
The makeover continues by adding Geno Hayes to a linebacking corps with a pair of 100-tackle players in Paul Posluszny and Russell Allen (an unsung breakout in his first season as trusted starter).
Jason Babin, a waiver-wire pickup from the Eagles last year, will play the "Leo" position; a designation for the primary pass rusher that Bradley used to get the best out of Chris Clemons in Seattle.
On the offense, Joeckel makes the switch to right tackle, with 2009 first-rounder Eugene Monroe remaining as the blind side blocker. Will Rackley likely reclaims his left guard spot after missing 2012 with injury. The disarray and mediocre play led to the line giving up 50 sacks (third most in the NFL).
An intriguing part of Bradley's coaching staff is his offensive coordinator, 37-year-old Jedd Fisch. Though he and Bradley know each other from one season together in Seattle (where Fisch was quarterbacks coach), it was with the Miami Hurricanes that Fisch flourished for the next two seasons, running an efficient, pro-style offense.
Fisch will be the third offensive coordinator that Blaine Gabbert has known in as many years, following Dirk Koetter and Bob Bratkowski. That lack of continuity seemed to stifle Alex Smith in San Francisco, so it must be hard on Gabbert, who has a 65.4 rating in 15 career games.
Speaking of Gabbert, he and Henne were, as of May OTAs, splitting reps, so it remains to be seen what direction the offense will go. If Jones-Drew is fully recovered from his foot injury, that's one puzzle piece firmly fitted, at least.
The Jaguars were given the longest odds by Vegas in terms of projected wins, and are also tied for worst Super Bowl odds with Oakland, at 200/1. As a small market team with few recognizable, ESPN-preferred stars outside of Jones-Drew, they're an easy team to overlook.
The offense is going to be a work in progress, especially with a youngster in Fisch implementing a new system. Bradley's a good mind who will forge a stronger defense than in the anemic 2012, but not enough in just one year to climb into the hunt.