This week, we’re sitting down with Andrew Potter from Football Outsiders to talk about the Jacksonville Jaguars and how they think they’ll do this season. How can they improve their win-loss record? Will their run defense get gashed up and down the field? What is Jay Gruden’s impact on Gardner Minshew and the offense in general.
Let’s get started...
You have the Jaguars at 7.1 wins for your 2020 Mean Projection. That would be a full game better than last year and the second-best win-loss record of the past 10 seasons. What do you attribute that to — improvement on offense or defense? Is it Gardner Minshew taking a (small) step forward or is it the players around him being a bit better?
Not really. The Jaguars project to be roughly the same team as they were last year, somewhere on the fringes of the bottom quarter of the league. Minshew showed some flashes in his rookie season, but in general was a lower-end starter. That’s a great result for a sixth-round rookie, but not necessarily the key to future success for the franchise. The additions of Tyler Eifert, Laviska Shenault, and Chris Thompson don’t really move the needle.
The defense lost its best front seven defender, but offsets that with credit for two highly-drafted players and a smidge of regression toward the mean.
The biggest reason for the 7-win projection is the inherently conservative nature of the way we do our projections: because we use thousands of season simulations, our system tends to bunch teams closer together around 8-8 than they end up in the real standings. There are usually a few teams who win 12 games, but we rarely project 12-win teams. Somebody always loses 12 games, but we never project 12-loss teams. It’s best to think of our projections not as a hard-and-fast “x number of wins” but as a range of possibilities that average out around that figure.
Last year, the Jaguars finished roughly where we expected: we projected them just outside the bottom quarter of the league last year with a mean projection of 7.3 wins, and they finished just outside the bottom quarter at 6-10. This year, we project them just inside the bottom quarter at 7.1 wins, so a repeat of last season’s 6-10 record is well within the range of our system’s expectations. They’ve made a few personnel changes, but our system considers them a very similar team overall. That’s not quite as bad as general public perception, but it’s not exactly good by NFL standards either — and it’s certainly not much of an improvement from last year.
Football Outsiders Almanac 2020 is available from FootballOutsiders.com in electronic form or you can buy it at Amazon.com in printed form.
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