Jacksonville Jaguars: 2014 Final Report Card
Here is a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars with analysis of each unit on the team and comments about the 2014 season.
There are many ways to look at this position, but the fact remains there were two seasons to Blake Bortles’ year. The first seven games that he started, Bortles could not get out of his own way, three four pick-six interceptions and had issues holding onto the football.
The final six games, the interceptions slowed down, he became more methodical in his approach and his completion percentage got better. I think Bortles is on the right path, but playing as a rookie was not what this team intended when they drafted him in 2014. Look for a difference in his play next season.
What does worry me is the fact Bortles will play in his third offensive game plan in three straight seasons. The new offensive coordinator will have to make sure Bortles takes a step forward, not two steps back in 2015.
GRADE - D
I was very suspect of the team signing Toby Gerhart to be their lead back in the offseason. My suspicions were proved right with a foot injury he suffered in Game 1 against the Eagles. He is a nice fullback-type runner who is really a complementary back, not a lead runner.
Denard Robinson shocked us all with his ability and his speed and agility. Gus Bradley knew what he was doing when he drafted the former Michigan quarterback to run the ball, not throw it. But Robinson is also a stop gap and not a full-time, every down back.
Storm Johnson and Jordan Todman were underused all season. Personally, I would like to see Todman get more carries and use Gerhart on third down. Robinson can still be a starter, but should only get 12-15 carries a game. If this team drafts a running back this season, it may not be until the third round.
GRADE – D
The way I see this unit is a lot different than most on local chat boards and those who call into sports radio. The unit is fine and needs more refinement.
When Jacksonville took Bortles in the first and then took Marquis Lee and then Allen Robinson in the second round, it meant the team committed to time for these three to mesh together. Then, by the stroke of luck, Jacksonville found Allen Hurns as a free agent. Those are four young, talented anchors for the future. Hurns and Robinson finished in the top 10 in rookie receptions. Lee showed moments of brilliance.
I do not expect Cecil Shorts III or Ace Sanders back, so a young veteran to come in and perform and lead. Justin Blackmon is a luxury, as the team has said, and is not expected to play this year. I am not counting on him and personally do not think he helps the organization.
The future is bright at this position.
GRADE - C
This might be the easiest unit to grade. Marcedes Lewis was a bust this season. He is owed too much money and either will renegotiate or be released – the latter probably being bets. Clay Harbor is a better fit for this offense and should be the last man standing. Charles Clay will get a look in free agency and someone like Nick O’Leary would be a great pick in the Draft. Otherwise, this unit was a huge BUST.
GRADE - F
The grade is easy. The reasons are long. When you start an assessment of the offensive line by stating the two best players on the line in 2014 were two rookies, that speaks volumes of how well or poor this unit played.
Luke Joeckel still needs seasoning at left tackle as he was pushed around more than he stepped up. To his credit the last four games were better than the first 12. He needs more size and agility to stay there after next season. Left guard Zane Beadles was the prize free agent signee and filled the left guard sport admirably and played tough, just not at a Pro Bowl level. His game will have to pick up in 2015. Center Luke Bowanko did well as a rookie fifth round pick. The pick obtained for Blaine Gabbert should be a fixture at center for the next few seasons as should right guard Brandon Linder, who was the best player on the line all season long. He will be Pro Bowl type before long.
Right tackle will be filled by many players and should see a new starter in 2015. This by far was the worst unit on the team. Free agency needs to bring this team a right tackle and depth. Look for the Jags to spend money to restructure this unit.
GRADE - F
This is the team’s best unit. Sen’Derrick Marks may be the most underrated lineman in the league and the unit as a whole played very well. But play can also be deceiving. The ends, especially Chris Clemons and Red Bryant were adequate and did not have the same swagger they did in Seattle two seasons ago. Clemons have had eight sacks, but he was not a dominant player. Bryant played the run well but was not a beast at stopping it.
Andre Branch was injured most of the time, but players like Tyson Alualu and Ryan Davis found a niche in the scheme. The play of Roy Miller earned him a new deal.
For a unit to play well with a defense that had major issues, that is a good thing. This team still needs a dominant pass rusher and more pressure up the middle. With Marks probably out for the season in 2015, a tackle might be a need in the draft. Still, Bradley used his players to the best of their ability.
GRADE – B-
Sometimes, you find out exactly what you have when your star player gets injured.
The Jaguars lost Paul Posluszny to injury and discovered the team’s future may be very bright. While the team missed his tackling and run stuffing in the middle, he was somewhat of a liability in pass protection. J.T Thomas replaced him and showed he was faster and played both the run and the pass well.
Telvin Smith, the rookie out of FSU, finished second on the team in tackles and was a beast down the stretch. He is a bit small at 219 pounds, but he flies to the ball and a demon on special teams. He could be the middle man this team has needed the past decade.
The Jaguars released Dekota Watson in the middle of the year and probably will look to find depth in free agency or a pass rushing outside backer.
There is hope for the future.
The Jaguars spent almost an entire draft on defensive backs in 2013. In 2014, the tem spends one pick on Aaron Colvin and now, I can see the future. Colvin was a huge upgrade when he returned from injury he suffered in the Senior Bowl.
Colvin and Demetrius McCray played the best on the back line. Johnathan Cyprien and Dwayne Gratz had their moments, but also had moments of inconsistency. There needs to be more coverage over the middle and the scheme needs to change so the field is not so open on third down.
Look for Jacksonville to seek a free safety in free agency or target a defensive back in the draft.
Also, look for team to potentially release Alan Ball and Will Blackmon in the offseason.
GRADE - D
What can you say about a unit that was the strength of the team in 2013, and then all but fell apart at times this season?
Josh Scobee has been the one constant in this offense for over a decade and he had four kicks blocked this season. I blame it on poor blocking and a quad injury that plagued him early in the season. But you can also see that his leg is not as strong as it used to be.
Punter Bryan Anger was among the league leaders, but he too had issues with blocks. The coverage teams were lacking this season and the return game with Ace Sanders and Jordan Todman need a major upgrade.
To be continued…
We have all bought into the Kool Aid at one point or another. There is something about coach Gus Bradley’s personality that is infectious. This is a team that is better, but the record does not indicated that. Look for this to be a make or break season in 2015.
The defense is solid up front, soft in the middle and weak in the back. The offense is very young and will get better. Time, however really is not on this team’s side. Fans want a winner now. Waiting is not an option for them.
If this team can win eight games in 2015, it should be enough to keep Bradley’s job. This is a franchise that knows how to draft and has signed some key players in free agency. The offensive line needs help and plenty of it.
If Blake Bortles is a second-year success, then Bradley can work on the line and defensive flaws. I like the energy with the team, but listening to Bradley give us the same coachspeak every week has to stop.
He is a great defensive coordinator, but needs work as a head coach as well.
GRADE - D
OVERALL GRADE - D-