There is a chance that the Jaguars stun the NFL and make the playoffs like they did in 1996. Is it likely? No. Absolutely not. Can it happen? Yes. It has happened before (the 1996 Jaguars, the 2011 Bengals, the 2012 Colts, the 2012 Redskins, and the 2012 Seahawks.) I do doubt that it happens for us, but if it does, that would be amazing.
Here are the reasons why we could surprise everyone and make the playoffs:
1. Dave Caldwell
General Manager Dave Caldwell is doing an amazing job adding talent, whether it is through the draft or Free Agency. As we all know, Caldwell wants to "Build through the draft, supplement through Free Agency". I think Caldwell did a good job so far, adding LB Geno Hayes to compete. RB Justin Forsett to be the #2 RB (an upgrade over Rashad Jennings). S Chris Banjo to add competition there, CBs Allan Ball and Marcus Trufant to add competition and in Trufant's case, experience in the defensive scheme to the secondary. WRs Mohammad Massequoi and Jeremy Ebert add competition at WR. DE Pannel Egbogh to compete. DTs Roy Miller, Sen'Derrick Marks, Brandon Deaderick, and Kyle Love add depth and possible starters. We released players with big contracts like Laurent Robinson, Dawan Landry, and Aaron Ross. We let Rashad Jennings, Derek Cox, Terrence Knighton, Eben Britton, and FB Greg Jones to leave in Free Agency. Then Caldwell drafted OT Luke Joeckel with the second overall pick, SS Jonathan Cyprien with the 33rd pick, CB Dwayne Gratz with our third rounder, WR Ace Sanders with our fourth rounder, RB/WR/QB Denard Robinson with our fifth rounder, FS Josh Evans with our sixth rounder, CBs Jeremy Harris and Demetrius McCray with our seventh rounders, who have both signed contracts. This could very well be the best draft class in Jaguars history. Thanks Dave Caldwell. We owe you a lot for what you have done for the Jags.
2: Gus Bradley
Coach Bradley more than likely influenced the draft and Free Agency, in a good way. His coaching staff is young, energetic, promising, smart, and hungry to build a contending team every year. Gus is also bringing his Defensive Scheme from Seattle, where he was the Defensive Coordinator. The defense seems to be better, and Babin likes the LEO, which he will now play, in rotation.
3. The O-Line
The O-Line was a disaster last year and in 2011. They allowed 40 sacks in 2011 and 50 in 2012. C Brad Meester is back, mostly because he has 13 years under his belt and is a good ;ocker room presence. Yes, his play is declining, but with switching to a zone blocking scheme, he bounce back a bit. He will not be the Meester of 2011, but better than 2012. Eugene Monroe is continuing to get better, and he didn't allow "Sackmaster" to get a single sack, hit, or pressure on Blaine when we played the Vikings. He is already a top ten LT, but still improving. Will Rackley will be back, and even the Rackley of 2011 will be better than everyone who played LG in 2012. Uche Nwaneri will be back from injury, so he will be better than those that played RG while he was hurt. Nwaneri is a better run blocker than he is pass blocker, so having him back will benefit the run game, especially contributing to MJD bouncing back. Luke Joeckel is now the RT. He will likely struggle, expecially early on, but that is because 1: He's a rookie and 2: moving from LT to RT. He'll be better than Whimper, and no worse than Bradfield. Overall, the O-Line will be much better in 2013, which means our offense will be better, and so will Blaine.
4. Jonathan Cyprien
We now have depth on the roster. We have either added new starters via the draft (Joeckel, Cyprien, Gratz, Sanders) but also added some possibly starters in Free Agency, like Sen'Derrick Marks, Roy Miller, Alan Ball, and Marcus Trufant. We added depth in the draft with Denard Robinson being the 3rd RB on the depth chart, Josh Evans adding depth behind Lowery and likely next year's starter at FS, and CBs Jeremy Harris and Demetrius McCray add depth to that position. Also Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick add depth and competition to the D-Line. WRs Mohammad Massequoi and Jeremy Ebert add depth and competition to that position. Free Agent RB Justin Forsett is an upgrade over Rashad Jennings, and De'Leon Eskridge is supposed to be an upgrade over Richard Murphy. Some UDFAs also added starters, mainly FB Lonnie Pryor, and depth at QB with Matt Scott and Jordan Rodgers.
6. Denard Robinson/Ace Sanders
Denard Robinson is one of those players that people are going t by tickets just to see play. This is because he is a big play threat with his speed and his elusiveness. He originally played QB in college, then WR at the Combine, and now the Jags have him at RB. Ace Sanders is anther speedy WR who can work the middle of the field, and a deep threat. These two can also add another element to our offense besides speed: The Wild Cat.
There is speculation that QB Blaine Gabbert may finally turn the corner this year, and it certainly is possible. He's got weapons in CS3, Blackmon, Sanders, Robinson, and MJD. He's got an OC who is a struggling QB's best friend. H's now got the best O-Line that he's had in Jacksonville with the addition of RT Luke Joeckel. The defense will also end more of the opponents drives, and get a few more turnovers, which will give our offense more opportunities to score.
"Last and certainly least....." (Commander Pouden)
Cecil Shorts was a big play threat last year. I hope that he can continue that trend and get get better, hopefully making it over 1,000 receiving yards, where he fell 21 yards shy of in 2012, likely because he missed two full games and parts of two others due to a concussion suffered late against the Bills and late against the Patriots.
NOTE: These are not in any particular order. They are not rankings.