There are a lot of opinions on how the Jacksonville Jaguars will fare during the 2016 season. How long will it take Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack to acclimate to the speed and strength of the NFL? Can new defensive coordinator Todd Wash turn this pass rush around? Will the Jaguars finish with another losing record?
We asked each member of the Big Cat Country team to offer their least popular opinion about the Jaguars. Here's what they said.
I think the Jaguars start the season 0-4. There has been a real positive wave sweeping over the Jaguars, deservedly so for all the moves they've made, but until I actually see it on the field, I'm not buying it. Fool me on once, shame on you. Fool me twice? Well, I can't get fooled again.
The Jaguars biggest issue is still the pass rush, and I'm not ready to crown Dante Fowler Jr. before he even steps on the field. That means the first four weeks I think could be a bit rough, facing the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Phillip Rivers, Joe Flacco and Andrew Luck. All four are quarterbacks who can carve you up if they have time to throw the ball. Even with no receivers last season, Flacco threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns against the Jaguars.
I'm in full prove it mode, so I guess that makes me a Negative Nancy.
Last season, my least popular opinion was Marcedes Lewis > Julius Thomas. I was more wrong than ketchup on a hot dog.
So here's another scorcher you should probably ignore -- I think Myles Jack will struggle during his rookie season. The team has been hesitant to reveal Myles' function within the defense thus far, which is an understandable approach for a versatile rookie. Even so, the floating expectations for the linebacker are nothing short of massive. Many fans and local media expect Myles to add another dimension to the Jaguars' defense, and sure -- he definitely has that ability. Jack is one of the fastest linebackers to come out of the draft in recent years. Still, I feel that Jack's indecisiveness and unrestrained play style will be amplified in the NFL. Jack's speed will place him around the ball very often this season, but I believe he'll struggle to adjust to the required level of attentiveness that the NFL demands. NFL linebacker is a complex occupation -- a profession Myles can fulfill very well, but perhaps not right away.
This is a tough question to answer for me. I think my answer is that the defense won't take *that* long to mesh together.
Defenses are a lot easier to put together than offenses. So much depends on timing and the chemistry on offense that it takes a long time for everything to start to come together. See the Jaguars offense in 2014 and then look at in 2015.
Defenses, meanwhile, make it easier for individual players to still do their job without being as reliant on the others around him.
I think it will take the staff a few games to figure out exactly how to deploy the defense. But I don't think this will be a season-long project.
I think this team can (and will) finish 8-8. I don't have delusions of grandeur that this is a playoff team, but I do think they can have their first non-losing season since 2010. The over/under on wins was pushed up as high as seven after the 2016 NFL Draft but was bet back down to six.
So here's a new one.
Allen Hurns' production is closer to 2014 than 2015... a lot closer. This isn't a matter of Hurns' skill, but rather diminished targets. Blake Bortles averaged more than 37 attempts per game last year and that's not happening again in 2016 with an improved offensive line and the signing of Chris Ivory. Hurns saw 6.5 targets per game last year and that's not happening either with what I believe will be significant contributions made by Rashad Greene and Marqise Lee. (Another unpopular opinion: Marqise Lee is third on the team in receiving yards.)
If I had to guess, Hurns' production in 2016 will be around 750 yards and six touchdowns.
I agree with Hank about how the defense will mesh quicker than most people think, but as there looks to be at least four to five new starters along the defense, I believe those who are most comfortable in the system will have the best season.
This shouldn't be unpopular with the fans, but with the likes of Dante Fowler Jr. returning and Tashaun Gipson starting at free safety, expectations for this year alone are flying through the roof. If, hypothetically, Jared Odrick has more sacks than Dante Fowler Jr., don't be alarmed. If, theoretically, Davon House leads the team in interceptions over Tashaun Gipson, Jalen Ramsey, and Prince Amukamara, don't be caught off guard.
The defense has been revamped, and there's no doubt about that. While we can't hold expectations for every new guy on the Jaguars' defense to be an all-star, they certainly provide hope for this team to own a top-notch defense.
But you can't have a defense that's best in the league without complacency -- and while I don't think it will take long for the defense to mesh together, I believe the household names along the defense: Davon House, Jared Odrick, and Telvin Smith will have the most productive seasons out of the whole bunch while the new guys grow more comfortable each week within the Jaguars system.
I think the Jaguars will start the 2016 season 4-1. This opinion may be "popular" with Jaguars fans who hope this is the case, but I think it is considered "unpopular" with most people because most people are probably like, "LOL! Yeah right, Wiggle." But hear me out.
We play the Packers at home in September to open the season. If you have to play the Packers (which we do) this is the perfect place on the schedule to play them. 1-0.
Next, we travel to San Diego. We will get smoked because it's what Phillip Rivers does to us. 1-1.
Next, we play the Ravens. We beat the Ravens in Baltimore last year. We are a better team this year, and we play them at home. 2-1.
Next, the Colts in London. If we're going to "compete" for the AFC South, we win this one. 3-1.
Finally, we get the Bears in Chicago following the bye week. This one is more of a hunch for me, but nevertheless, Jaguars win. Boom! We are 4-1.
My full-season prediction is 8-8, which is slightly more "popular" than my least popular Jaguars opinion of 2016: Jaguars will open 2016 with a 4-1 record.