Rushing: 2nd (149.4)
Passing: 17th (208.0)
Total Offense: 7th (357.4)
Run Defense: 11th (100.3)
Pass Defense: 15th (213.5)
Total Defense: 12th (313.8)
What was the Jaguars’ best move during the offseason?
Beefing up the pass rush by spending their first two draft picks on guys who can get after the quarterback could take Jacksonville’s big, physical defense to the next level. Unfortunately, their first-round pick, Derrick Harvey, missed most of the preseason workouts because of a contract dispute and has thus put himself behind the learning curve.
At worst, he and second-round pick Quentin Groves were expected to make an immediate contribution as pass-rush specialists. With Harvey’s lack of time on the practice field, though, Groves should be much more prepared to make his presence known early in the season. The team is hoping Harvey will come around quickly, though, and probably won’t ask him to do much more than rush the quarterback in the beginning.
What needs to go right for the Jaguars to succeed this season?
The Jaguars win games by running the ball, playing solid defense, and protecting the football. They have an efficient quarterback in David Garrard, who threw just three interceptions all of last season, but the question is, can he duplicate that effort again this year. Garrard may not be the flashiest passer in the league, but he seems to be the real deal. He hits his targets and spreads the ball around very nicely.
Problem is, there are a lot of concerns with the wide receiving corps. Former first-round draft pick Matt Jones was having a good camp after a relatively disappointing career up to this point, but he’s facing felony drug charges which could lead to discipline by the league under their Code of Conduct policy. Free agent Jerry Porter has the potential to be a huge addition to the offense, but he’s been out with a hamstring injury and Reggie Williams is recovering from knee surgery. Troy Williamson, who was acquired from the Minnesota Vikings has been a pleasant surprise however.
Where will the Jaguars finish the 2008 NFL season?
As long as this team continues to pound the ball with the talented duo of Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor, and the defense remains on top of its game, the Jaguars will win a lot of games. They do, however, face a very difficult schedule and play in one of the league’s strongest divisions. Not only are they chasing the elusive Indianapolis Colts, but they have to keep an eye on the rear-view mirror with the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans putting formidable teams on the field this year.
Might this be the year they finally get past the Colts? Perhaps. Either way, I do believe they have closed the gap and will make the race for the AFC South crown very interesting.
Prediction: 11-5 and second in the division.