The Jaguars have been a laughing stock for most of the last decade, but improved defensive personnel will make them a tough out this season.
Jacksonville has lived at the bottom of the AFC South finishing third or worse in the division standings in eight of the past nine years. They’ve had some solid draft picks and free agent signings over the past few offseasons, but they’ve been held back by subpar quarterback play. It looks like that could be the same story for 2017.
The Jaguars’ defense made some enormous strides finishing 13th in the league on that side of the ball last season, according to Football Outsiders, after ranking 26th in 2015. Jacksonville’s D could be even better in 2017 after some big-time free agent signings this offseason.
DL Calais Campbell and CB A.J. Bouye were the top two defensive players available in free agency, and Jacksonville signed them both to some monster deals.
Campbell joins last offseason’s premier free agent Malik Jackson as dominant forces on the middle of the defensive line.
Bouye and second-year cornerback Jalen Ramsey form one of the league’s best cornerback duos who can shut down almost any receiving corps.
The Jags are also stocked with talent at linebacker with Telvin Smith, Paul Posluszny, and a healthier Myles Jack.
Blake Bortles started to show some promise in 2015, but he regressed badly in 2016. However, the Jaguars’ front office still sees something in their former third overall pick as they picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract this offseason.
Jacksonville hasn’t done Bortles any favors along the offensive line as they’ve failed to put a solid unit in front of him during his three-year career. The Jags did spend a second round pick on Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson, but he may not be able to contribute right away.
While the Jaguars could have a top-10 defense in 2017, their offensive struggles will likely keep them from contending in the AFC South. The Colts and Jags have split their meetings in each of the past two seasons, but the vast advantage in quarterback play with a healthy Andrew Luck would give the Colts the edge in this matchup.