Blessed with two breakout performances from wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in 2015, the Jaguars' offense stretched the field through the air last season, but it was also the team's curse, as the one-dimensional approach led to 18 interceptions, the most by any other team last season. Turnovers, horrific offensive line play -- Bortles was sacked a league-high 51 times -- and a defensive unit who allowed the second-most points in franchise history (448), resulted in a 5-11 record and another disappointing season for the franchise.
The Jaguars were in East Rutherford, New Jersey back in Week 9 of last season, losing a close one to the Jets, 23-28. The win put the Jets en route to an overall record of 10-6, but ultimately, the team fell short of the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year in a loss to Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills. The Jaguars won just three of their remaining eight games.
Despite the lack of happy endings in 2015, a lot of hype surrounds both teams as they prepare for the a new season. Barring playoffs, Thursday's preseason game will be the only time these two teams meet, and though it will not directly affect either team's chances of making the playoffs, it wouldn't be surprising if there's an aggressive game called from both sidelines and a preview of several pages in the playbooks.
We can expect to see a series or two from the starters, but traditionally, the motif of a team's first preseason game is the measurement of depth. This is a critical time for the coaches to evaluate the current constructed roster in game action -- the first real opportunity to either reaffirm or adjust their view on the mid-to-lower-tier players who are trying to move their way up the ladder, or for a job entirely.
Further, while the bar has been raised on the offensive side of the ball, there's not a single person going to find out Thursday if offensive coordinator Greg Olson has the unit prepared to take the next step, for the coaching staff needs proof left tackle Luke Joeckel -- starting in place of the injured Kelvin Beachum -- along with left guard Mackenzy Bernadeau, can have a stronghold on Bortles' blindside and ward off the adaptable and stout Jets' defensive front.
Defensive coordinator Todd Wash is entering his fourth season with Jacksonville, but has been operating under the new title only since January of this year. Let's hope he is a quick learner, for make no mistake, there are equally high expectations for the defense; but, similar to the offensive side of things, we'll likely catch only a minute glimpse of Wash's new-and-improved defense, which includes, but isn't limited to the additions of: defensive end Malik Jackson, cornerback Prince Amukamara and 2016 first-rounders, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Myles Jack.
Concerns with the Jaguars' left side of the offensive line have snagged most of the headlines throughout training camp, and those same concerns still remain with the release of the unofficial depth chart for the first preseason game, as co-starters have been named at multiple positions. Another (and perhaps less appealing) position battle flying under the radar can be found on Special Teams between kicker's Jason Myers and Sam Ficken. While Ficken went undrafted out of Penn State in 2015, the former struggled from long distances during his first year in the NFL and was unreliable in PAT attempts, as he led the league in extra points missed with seven.
There's no doubt a tough road awaits Jacksonville, beginning with the season opener at home against the Green Bay Packers and ending in a five-game stretch, which includes three division games (two away) and two playoff teams from last season, the defending Super Bowl Champion' Denver Broncos and the up-and-coming Minnesota Vikings.
All other information on the Thursday's game against New York can be found here. In the meantime, what are some things you are looking forward to seeing from the Jaguars?