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Jaguars 2014 midseason report card

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We're at the midpoint of the 2014 NFL season. How have the Jaguars done through their first eight games?

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars are halfway through their 2014 schedule and it's a good time to grade how each unit of the team is doing.

As trite as it sounds, despite a 1-7 record, this team is better than its win-loss record would indicate. The first three games were, essentially, a different team. Players like Chad Henne, Toby Gerhart, Jacques McClendon, and Winston Guy were getting the majority of the snaps and the players that haven't been cut have been benched.

Quarterbacks: C-

Ryan: Not counting how long Blake Bortles has been in the league, and looking at the Jaguars quarterbacks objectively, it's hard not to say this unit is below average. Chad Henne was absolutely awful through 2.5 games, with the first half of the season opener being the only reason I wouldn't consider him an "F" quarterback. Bortles has done better in the middle of the field than his box score would indicate.
Final grade: D+

Alfie: The Jaguars quarterback unit has left a lot to be desired through the midpoint of the season. Chad Henne was supposed to be a stabilizing spot on the offense while Blake Bortles sat back and learned, but Henne was so ineffective at moving the offense the team decided to pull the trigger with the rookie. Bortles has been up and down as expected, showing some flashes of brilliance and big play capability, but he has turned the ball over way more than you'd like to see. I don't think Bortles overall has been that bad and he's been able to move the offense, but if we're looking at the group as a whole, Henne bogs down the grade.
Final grade: C-

Running backs: D+

Ryan: As I said before, these are two completely different teams. The offensive line -- Luke Joeckel, Zane Beadles, Luke Bowanko, Brandon Linder, and Austin Pasztor -- didn't even play a game together until Week 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That's a big reason why the running backs haven't excelled, but another reason is the running backs who were in there (namely, Toby Gerhart) just aren't that good.
Final grade: C

Alfie: The running game was a disaster for the first six games of the season and the Jaguars couldn't figure out who they wanted to be the main running back. Free agent pick up Toby Gerhart was a big heaping of meh and for a while Denard Robinson didn't seem like he'd get on the field much. The last two weeks however Robinson has showed the ability to be productive and has back-to-back running games. It surged late, but so far on the season the running game has been bad.
Final grade: D-

Wide receivers: B-

Ryan: I actually really like our receivers and what offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch and receivers coach Jerry Sullivan have done. They've taken a similar approach as to what the defensive line is doing -- assigning roles and scheming around the fact there's no true No. 1 receiver or pure pass rusher. If you didn't know Allen Robinson was a rookie, you wouldn't ever think it.
Final grade: C+

Alfie: A lot has been made of the Jaguars wide receivers, but all things considered I actually think they've done a great job. The group has dealt with multiple injuries and suspensions, and while they've made mistakes they've made a lot of plays too. You're getting good production out of rookies even with the lone veteran constantly nicked up.
Final grade: B

Tight ends: D+

Ryan: Having Marcedes Lewis out for much of the first half of the season has been tough. Clay Harbor has filled in okay, and Nic Jacobs hasn't done poorly, but it's a so-so unit without Lewis.
Final grade: C-

Alfie: Realistically, the Jaguars haven't got much of anything out of their tight end group this year. Clay Harbor has provided some plays since he's returned, but the consistency just isn't there. Marcedes Lewis has been out with injury and the other tight end spot has been a revolving door of plays who have been a liability in pass protection and run blocking.
Final grade: D

Offensive line: B

Ryan: Again, different team from Weeks 1-4 and Weeks 5-8. The combination of Luke Joeckel, Zane Beadles, Luke Bowanko, Brandon Linder, and Austin Pasztor are opening running lanes, improving every week, and allowed just five sacks since they've played together. However, players like Jacques McClendon and Cameron Bradfield, hurt this grade.
Final grade: B-

Alfie: I preached it all day early in the season, but the Jaguars offensive line is better than most gave it credit for and it's was made to look worse due to poor quarterback play. Over the past few weeks as the shuffled line had a chance to settle down, it's looked much better and the team has been able to run the football. Two of the brightest spots on the line are rookies Luke Bowanko and Brandon Linder. The line should continue to grow going forward and get better overall.
Final grade: B

Defensive line: A

Ryan: There aren't five better defensive lines in football than the Jaguars. Collectively, this unit is the strength of the team, and their balanced ability to stop the run (88.0 yards per game over past five weeks) and rush the passer (25 sacks, tied for second in the league).
Final grade: A-

Alfie: Even when the Jaguars were getting blown out in the first few weeks of the season, the Jaguars defensive line was still playing well. At the midway point the team has just five fewer sacks than they did for the entire 2013 season. The run defense has picked up more as well the past few weeks, but overall the defensive line has been the best unit on the field on either side of the ball.
Final grade: A

Linebackers: C-

Ryan: This has been an inconsistent group. They've played well starting in Week 4 against the San Diego Chargers, but before then were getting picked apart. Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny was a liability in the passing game, but his replacement in J.T. Thomas is filling the gap well. Telvin Smith is gonna be something special.
Final grade: C+

Alfie: One of the weakest areas on the team so far on the season has been the Jaguars linebacker group, but the last two weeks with youth and athleticism installed it looked much better. Prior to that however, it was a clear spot that opposing offenses picked on, particularly in the middle of the field. Some of the linebackers were a constant problem in coverage and the OTTO position ran through three players before settling on a starter.
Final grade: D

Secondary: B

Ryan: While the coaching staff was figuring out the best combination of players through the first few weeks, this unit got absolutely torched. But through the last four games, the secondary has allowed just two touchdowns, and they were both goal line throws, so it's hard to pin either all on them.
Final grade: B-

Alfie: Behind the defensive line, I think the secondary is the next best unit on the team, even with the struggles early on. Most of those struggles laid on one player who's no longer on the roster, but since that's been shored up the corners and safeties have looked much better on the season. The Jaguars have also discovered some depth with the play of Demetrius McCray.
Final grade: B

Special teams: C-

Ryan: Three blocked field goals allowed and average net yardage per punt. But 25.3 yards per kickoff return is 8th in the league, and their kickoff coverage has been good. 
Final grade: C+

Alfie: I haven't really talked much about the Bryan Anger this season because he's a punter and I don't want to talk about it, but like I've mentioned in the past he's just an average punter who can't seem to position the ball to get downed where he's pinning teams back. Then you move on to the field goal unit who's had multiple kicks blocked this season and in general has looked out of sorts all season.
Final grade: D

Coaching: B

Ryan: Letting Chad Henne start the first three games still confuses me. But being able to maximize the defensive line's production and mold the secondary into an ever-improving unit during the season is impressive.
Final grade: B

Alfie: The coaching staff was criticized a lot early in the season, but I think a lot of that was missed expectations from fans. I think overall, the staff is getting about what they can out of the roster. They could just as easily have 3-4 wins if some things go their way (like not throwing multiple pick sixes), but that's what you get with a young team. I also think Jedd Fisch has done a good job running the offense with so many rookies and the defense hasn't changed much outside of personnel and is now starting to keep the team in games.
Final grade: B