Bill Barnwell of ESPN recently published his annual Five NFL Teams Most Likely to Improve article. For at least the third time in the past six years, Barnwell listed the Jacksonville Jaguars as one of those teams.
I’m willing to get hurt again, and it’s not just because the Jaguars have replaced Meyer with Doug Pederson… but it’s easy to make the argument that Jacksonville would realize a massive gain by merely having a competent coach who doesn’t allegedly kick his own players in pregame warm-ups.
Drag him, Bill!!
Barnwell went on to point out that, among other reasons, Jacksonville should be better in 2022 simply by not replicating its league-worst -20 turnover margin from last season. That included a league-worst nine takeaways, and on top of that, the 2021 Jaguars defense ranked second-to-last in both fumble recoveries and fumble recovery rate since 1991.
Thanks to natural regression, not to mention better players on defense and a now-seasoned Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville’s turnover margin is sure to improve next season. That alone will make them more competitive week to week, though Lawrence could make them even better than simply competitive if he makes a significant sophomore leap.
We don’t have to think back far to consider a quarterback drafted No. 1 overall whose team went from worst to first in his second season. Joe Burrow was better as a rookie than Lawrence, and he had more coaching stability, but the Bengals’ stunning turnaround last season is yet another reminder of how a superstar quarterback can drastically change the floor and ceiling for a franchise. If Lawrence makes that leap in Year 2, the Jaguars might not remotely resemble that disappointing team.
The article also noted that according to Football Outsiders, Jacksonville’s schedule will improve from the 10th-toughest in 2021 to the sixth-easiest projected slate in 2022.