The Jacksonville Jaguars are one of the least flashy teams in the NFL. Last season, they were never able to put the right pieces together to find success.
Last year’s lack of success hasn’t tripped up the Jags so far this offseason. Jacksonville went into free agency with a pile of cash, and they haven’t shied away from spending it to bring in players that improve key weaknesses on the roster, especially on the offensive and defensive lines.
So far this offseason, the Jaguars have added Red Bryant, Ziggy Hood and re-signed Jason Babin. On the offensive line, the addition of Zane Beadles helps secure the left side of the Jags’ line. The biggest weakness of the Jaguars’ roster was their big men up front on both sides of the ball, but following free agency, the Jaguars have solid lines.
If the Jaguars are able to ink Alex Mack, which will only happen if the Cleveland Browns don’t match the Jaguars’ offer, Jacksonville would suddenly have a very stout offensive line capable of actually protecting their quarterback, Chad Henne. It’s been one of the biggest problem areas for the team over the past several seasons, but a long-term fix may have arrived.
What’s all this mean for the Jaguars? Well, improvement for starters, but it goes beyond finishing 5-11 after a 4-12 season.
Jacksonville plays in one of the weaker divisions in football, the AFC South. That leaves plenty of room for growth for a rising team like the Jaguars. Jacksonville still has holes in its roster, especially at quarterback for instance, but key players are arriving in waves.
After showing strong improvement from a weak roster last season, the Jags finally seemed poised to make their way out of the ranks of the bottom feeders of the league. If they can have a couple of hits in the draft, the team may have the core players and the playmakers they need to be playing meaningful games late in the season.
All this doesn’t mean the Jaguars will be this year’s team to make the jump from the bottom of the league into the postseason, but there’s no denying they’re moving in the right direction. Unlike many of the other teams that joined the Jaguars at the bottom of the 2013 standings, Jacksonville is moving in a good direction. Only the Buccaneers seem to be on such a steep, upward slope.
Last year, the Jaguars were a bad team. There’s no way around it. In 2014, however, Jacksonville may actually be making a playoff push late in the season, which should be good enough to qualify them as the NFL’s most improved team in the league.