Jacksonville Jaguars 2009 NFL Projection:
Last season the Jaguars were decimated on their offensive line early in the season
losing center Brad Meester, and starting guards Vince Manuwai & Maurice Williams.
Coming into the 2009 season, Jacksonville is healthy at the position
as these 3 starters return. The Jags are also deeper on the line having signed
left tackle Tra Thomas from Philadelphia, and having drafted
left tackle Eugene Monroe from Virginia in the first round (though he's currently holding out),
and right tackle Eben Britton from Arizona in the second round.
Departed is running back Fred Taylor. It's now Maurice Jones-Drew's time
to show if he can handle an increased workload
without a decrease in productivity per carry.
If Jones-Drew delivers anywhere close to his usual output,
he could have a monster season statistically
as he's been a touchdown machine while splitting carries in his young career.
The Jaguars shed plenty of busts from their team,
especially at the wide receiver position.
They will turn to veteran Torry Holt to supply a little of what
the Jags have been missing
since Jimmy Smith retired.
For the past several seasons, Holt has been stuck on a Rams' team
with no offensive line to speak of. In Jacksonville, Holt will find
what shapes up as a much stronger offensive line, not to mention
a mobile quarterback in David Garrard.
The Jaguars' offense appears positioned to improve
year over year.
On the other side of the ball, the Jags'
defense turned in a sub par performance in '08. Mel Tucker replaces
Gregg Williams as the coordinator. Let's just say
letting Marcus Stroud shuffle off to Buffalo last season
wasn't exactly the brightest idea...
In fact, it was crazy.
Jacksonville's pass defense put up unusually
Their defense will get a boost from the return
of cornerback Rashean Mathis who missed
a quarter of last season... In a further attempt
to shore up their passing defense,
the Jaguars perhaps overpaid
to draft cornerback Derek Cox out of William and Mary via a trade with the Patriots.
There's quite a bit of youth on the Jacksonville's
defensive line with Harvey, Groves, and Knighton (3rd round
pick from Temple University). The Jags need their young lineman to
contribute because production from veterans John Henderson and Reggie Hayward
has slipped... Compounding the problem is the level of competition
from within the AFC South... Houston's offense forecasts as extremely potent.
Peyton Manning and the Colts? No explanation needed. And of course Tennessee
is packing the best offensive line in the division.
The linebacking crew says goodbye to Mike Peterson, now a member of the Falcons.
For better or worse, this unit won't be as deep.
A look at Jacksonville's 2009 schedule
shows a heavy dose of division rivals right out of the gate,
with 3 of their first 4 games coming against division foes.
Super Bowl runner up Arizona Cardinals is wedged in between. Fortunately, the Cards have to travel
to humid Florida, and that should increase Jacksonville's chances in that week 2 contest.
We think it's imperative the Jags win either week 3 at Houston, or week 4 against the Titans, otherwise they
could be looking at a (1-3) start with a long trip to Seattle in week 5 to play in a very loud
stadium. If they lose to the Seahawks, the Jags may not be able to crawl out of this potential
early season hole.
As you can see the first 5 weeks appear critical to Jacksonville's season.
Their defense will almost certainly have to perform right out of the gate to avoid losses to high powered
offenses. Or else, the Jaguars will simply have to outscore these opponents (a distinct possibility).
It may be that Jacksonville plays a lot of high scoring games in '09.
It's hard to make a convincing argument that the Jaguars have the kind of defense that can get them to the postseason
A record of .500 would probably be an accomplishment in the competitive AFC South,
especially given the team's state of affairs on defense. If their defensive line can get it going, there's upside.
But we think this season will fall on the shoulders of the offense.
Overall we forecast a record of (6-10). Defense wins, and the Jaguars don't seem
to have it like they used to.
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