The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t going to sneak up on anybody in 2018, like they did in 2017. The rest of the league and the media is well aware of what this team can accomplish with this talented roster next season. In fact, Elliot Harrison, an NFL.com analyst, has ranked the Jaguars as the third best team in the NFL in his latest power rankings.
Harrison’s power rankings take into account free agency moves, trades and re-signings. While free agency is now in its “second wave,” the majority of marquee free agents have already found their new teams and this is how Harrison sees the league prior to the draft.
Here’s what he had to say about Jacksonville:
“So much to like about this Jacksonville team, although no one is overly excited about the Jags occasionally trying to win in spite of the quarterback. No more Chad Henne to fall back on, either. Yet, Jacksonville holds the three spot, as this group almost made the Super Bowl with Blake Bortles at quarterback. Also of importance: importing guard Andrew Norwell, the best player at his position on the market.”
Two things stand out to me from that statement. First, people are excited about the addition of Andrew Norwell at left guard, and they should be. Norwell didn’t allow a single hit on Cam Newton last season, let alone a sack. He surrendered just 15 hurries all season — including playoffs. His Pro Football Focus pass blocking grade of 90.9 was by far higher than any other Jaguar in 2017, and his overall grade of 88.8 ranked him third amongst guards in the entire league.
Second, the lack of faith in Blake Bortles continues. Perhaps that is deserved, but I know one thing: Bortles’ play in the AFC Championship and the playoffs overall is not the reason the Jags missed out on the Super Bowl. The questions about Bortles will probably never cease because of his inconsistencies. Will Bortles hold the team back in 2018, or continue to ascend like he did (for the most part) throughout 2017? Time will tell.
Unsurprisingly, the only teams that were ranked ahead of the Jaguars were the Super Bowl LII participants — The Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots. The Jaguars will see both the Eagles (in London) and New England (in Jacksonville) in 2018. But why are these two teams ranked higher than the Jags?
You could make the argument that the Patriots’ current roster isn’t as talented as their 2017 roster. The team has lost Nate Solder, Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis and possibly several others. They will have Julian Edelman and Dont’a Hightower back, however. But the Patriots do this seemingly every offseason — let good players walk — and continue to be successful. New England is still the class of the AFC as long as a guy named Tom Brady is under center.
The Eagles will still be a league-wide threat as well. Philly lost Vinny Curry, Patrick Robinson, and LeGarrette Blount, who are all somewhat underrated players. But they re-signed linebacker Nigel Bradham and also added Michael Bennett to that already scary defensive line. Plus Carson Wentz is expected to be healthy to start the season.
Looking around the AFC South, the Houston Texans check in at No. 12, the Tennessee Titans are at No. 14, and the Indianapolis Colts rank dead last after making virtually no free agent moves. You can check out acquisitions around the division in this article.
The Jaguars had a mini-roster reconstruction this offseason, bringing in several new faces and cutting mainstays, such as Allen Hurns and Marcedes Lewis. Allen Robinson and Aaron Colvin have also moved on to other teams, while Paul Posluszny retired, leaving a hole at SAM.
The incredible defense remains largely intact, though and Norwell is an immediate upgrade on the offensive line. Donte Moncrief on offense and D.J. Hayden on defense are wild cards. Still, though, there is no reason to believe that this team isn’t capable of reaching a Super Bowl.
Another poll, Ryan, really? Sure, why not?
In terms of power rankings, where should Jacksonville rank right now?
This poll is closed
16th or worse