One year after winning a division title, the Jacksonville Jaguars plummeted to the AFC South basement. How can they regain the top spot this season?
From 2008-16, the Jacksonville Jaguars amassed a dismal 42-102 win-loss record and lost at least 11 games in seven of those nine seasons. Then one year after posting a dreadful 3-13 record and plummeting to the bottom of the AFC South in 2016, the club surprised many and not only finished with a 10-6 record, but the franchise also captured its first division title since 1999.
Doug Marrone’s club would parlay the Jaguars’ first playoff appearance since 2007 into wins over the Bills and Steelers and owned a 10-point fourth-quarter lead in the AFC title game at New England. But the team would fall short of the team’s first-ever Super Bowl appearance.
This past season, the Jaguars would win three of their first four games and avenged their conference championship game loss to the Patriots. But it all came apart rather quickly for Marrone and company and it was back to the divisional basement. So can the team do this season what it did in ’17? Here are three areas that the team needs to be better at if they are to have a shot at dethroning the Houston Texans.
3. Shore up the run defense
The big-play defensive unit known as “Sacksonville” was quite the factor during the club’s 2017 season and deep playoff run. During the regular season that year, the team rolled up 55 quarterback traps, came up with 33 takeaways and returned numerous opponent turnovers for touchdowns. But that year, the club had its issues against the run. They got somewhat better after a midseason trade with the Buffalo Bills netted Marcell Dareus, but it was an area that needed to be addressed last offseason.
But the Jaguars’ move from 21st in the league in run defense to 19th shows that this area must still get better, especially in a division where the Texans, Colts and Titans all like to run the football. A year ago, the team used a first-round pick on defensive tackle Taven Bryan, who played in all 16 games and made one start. Will he take over inside on a full time basis for Malik Jackson, released by this team this offseason?