The prospects for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014 means a new chance at redemption from the dismal start to 2013 and eight straight losses that sent this franchise into a tailspin.
After the bye week and a chance to recover a bit, the 4-4 record through the second half of the campaign was an indication Gus Bradley had his players doing their job at the end of the year.
Hopefully, those who remain on the roster will remember the feeling of winning and the camaraderie the team shared while learning to win, learning to work together and improving each week on the playing field.
The Jaguars will count on players like Marcedes Lewis, Will Blackmon and Paul Posluszny to help level the playing field and to get the remaining veterans to work closely again with the rookies to form cohesion. If there is team unity from the start of training camp and OTAs this could be a much better team in 2014 with playoff aspirations in 2015.
In order for the continuity to continue, the Jaguars will need huge seasons from these players.
You cannot grade a player’s season by injury, but it appeared that the second overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft was coming along fine, having started at right tackle, then moved to his original position on the left side when Eugene Monroe was traded. Joeckel then broke his ankle against the Rams.
If Joeckel comes out strong and plays like he did in games three and four last season, the left side of the line will be solid this season.
I know it is hard to ask your only Pro Bowl player to have another huge season, but that is exactly what has to happen. Posluszny must repeat 2013.
If the team can look to one player who was the glue of this franchise last season, it was No. 51. And with his ability to run all over the field to stop the run or defend a tight end over the middle, POZ must do it again while the rest of the defensive unit gels.
The team may draft Jadeveon Clowney in the first round, which would create many opportunities for other players to be freed up to rush the passer. Branch was the team’s best defensive lineman last season and could be this team’s Cliff Avril. The Jaguars need a double-digit from the third year player from Clemson.
Sometimes, the light was on for this former Florida player. He is a heavy hitter and sometimes wanted to hit a receiver instead of tackle him. That lesson must be learned. While fellow rookies Jonathan Cyprien and Dwayne Gratz showed they were worthy of starting, Evans needed more time. Will the second season be the time for him to shine?