Football Nation Preview: The 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars
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