NFL.com's Gil Brandt made some waves with his prediction Monday night that the Jacksonville Jaguars would make the playoffs in 2014.
Hey, there's a dark horse playoff contender every year. Why not the Jaguars?
Well, other than the fact that we've most likely seen quarterback Chad Henne's ceiling, most of the offense is in its first year playing together, and the defense is young... no real reason.
But then Brandt expounded on his prediction Wednesday afternoon, penning one of the most comprehensive apologetics for the Jaguars I've seen from a member of the national media.
Brandt started with his admiration for Gus Bradley and the coaching staff, reminded everyone that David Caldwell has been batting 1.000 in his two drafts, and made sure we all keep in mind that the Jaguars play in the AFC South, arguably the weakest division in football.
But Brandt's greatest hope is in Blake Bortles, the No. 3 overall pick this year and the Jaguars' quarterback of the future:
"Henne is a pretty good player who has never really had the benefit of a solid supporting cast at the NFL level, and he can win some games for them. With Bortles, however, the sky is the limit -- he has the potential to make things happen now. Think of Ben Roethlisberger's rookie campaign in 2004. The Pittsburgh Steelers were going to have Roethlisberger sit behind veteran Tommy Maddox for the duration of the season, but then Maddox went down early, forcing Big Ben to step in -- and he went on to lead the Steelers to the AFC Championship Game and win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. I can easily foresee Bortles' career starting in a similar way, with the Central Florida product having to come in for Henne and pushing Jacksonville to the playoffs."
Brandt went on to say that getting to the playoffs would require "nine or 10 wins" but that he thinks the Jaguars can (and will) do it in 2014.
I don't agree with Brandt. I think the pieces are there, but we're still one or two years away from significant results. But we are in the AFC South and Brandt's right when he says we can realistically win five of our six division games this year.
Even fellow NFL.com writers are getting into the mix, with Adam Rank concurring with Brandt's hope:
And this has no editorial merit, but who cares?
To read Brandt's article in its entirety, click here.