The Jacksonville Jaguars look like a completely different team both on paper and on the field compared to their 2013 version. But how much will those improvements actually translate to regular season games? Big Cat Country chatted with Rivers McCown of Football Outsiders to answer some of these questions from an analytical standpoint.
How much should the additions of Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and Ziggy Hood help the overall pass rush?
Red Bryant won't help -- he's there to patrol his gaps and send away anyone who can't pay the toll. I believe in Ziggy Hood as a rotational player, but barring injury I don't expect a big impact. I do think Chris Clemons will help a lot, and Andre Branch's strong second half has me optimistic that the Jaguars can approach a league-average rush.
With the return of Luke Joeckel and the addition of Zane Beadles, is the Jaguars offensive line salvageable this season?
Jacksonville's offensive line could be solid if all the ifs pan out. If moving Michael Brewster back to his college position can keep his lack of strength from mattering. If Brandon Linder can be ready right away. If Beadles' poor pass protection numbers were a fluke rather than a trend. If Joeckel's poor play was the result of him being a rookie and playing out of position while blocking for the worst quarterback in the NFL.
I don't think the Jaguars quite scratch average this year, but if things go right, they could.
The Jags are hitching to Jonathan Cyprien and Dwayne Gratz in their young secondary. How much potential for growth is there?
Both players already have done a lot of growing. It's not completely unfathomable that they'll continue to do so, especially since they both have the pedigree to continue to improve. I think that they'll look better as the Jaguars continue to fill out the roster around them. Especially at the other safety spot, which is sort of a black hole at the moment.
Toby Gerhart has been compared to the Falcons Michael Turner signing. Was he just a good back buried behind a great one?
Gerhart has some upside, sure. Nobody is going to take him over Adrian Peterson, which made his draft selection puzzling. We're in uncharted territory with how many carries he'll be getting, but when you consider his draft pedigree, the lack of tread on his tires, and how much Gus Bradley wants to establish the running game, I think he's in for a big year.
Realistically how far can Chad Henne take you and should the Jags go with Bortles sooner than later?
Chad Henne can take you to .500 or thereabouts in an ideal situation. I can understand why the Jaguars are taking it slow with Bortles. I can also understand why the Jaguars fans would rather see their investment pay off sooner rather than later. Ultimately, given how Jacksonville projects, I think it makes sense to wait for more ideal conditions before Bortles is unveiled. But I can easily see him taking over around midseason if there's nothing to be gained by letting him sit.