Preseason Rankings On The Wall For Jags
By Troy Graham
Once again it is that time of year, the time for all these ‘so called’ analysts and football experts to start predicting their regular season projections of where every team will fall in the standings for wins and losses in 2013.
In a combination of last season’s win/loss records, team statistics, injuries, retired players, new administrations, coaching changes, evolved playbooks, updated scouting reports and the potential impact of rookie players, experts cultivate their power rankings with those variables. Sound easy enough right?
Well unfortunately, there is no algebraic equation enabling the ability to put all of those outside factors into a formula to tell you where your favorite team will stand. For a team of the Jaguars’ caliber, there is just no telling where they will end up.
According to NFL.Com’s Around The League podcasts and Sport Illustrated’s preseason power rankings, the Jags’ are ranked 31st. It is easier to hope for the worst than it is for the best because they were tied for the league’s worst record last season with the Chiefs, the team they play week one.
The exception for that ranking is due to the Kansas City being ranked in the top 25 in both power rankings with the excuse that their 2-14 record came from injuries and just a fluke flop, instead of a lack of talent which is described in Jacksonville.
It does not take a rocket scientist to configure whether the expectations for the Jags are high or not, because there are few if any. The main concerns creating consistent rankings of the team being predicted to be at the bottom of multiple polls are the lack of a pass rush, a questionable secondary and the absence of a quality quarterback.
The most optimistic evaluators recognize what Gus Bradley has done, understand the energy he brings into the locker room and the impressive background of David Caldwell, but feel the team could at best, grind out a 4-12 record. Believe it or not that would be twice as good as last year.
One critique about the preseason is that it is hard to evaluate the overall capabilities of a team going into the regular season. There is the old saying of teams who play poorly in the preseason do well in the regular season, and that's what Jags fans are hoping for. Add in the fact that the full depths of the new playbook are saved for deeper into the season, the Jags first team unit brings more promise than it has in recent years.
“We were able to run the ball well, throw the ball well, guys were protected, and it is something we got to continue to work on, not just on the first and second series but also on third and so on and so forth,” said Maurice Jones-Drew on their first team offense performance during the preseason. “Our practices have been high tempo, a lot of guys are making big runs and it is just translating to the game.”
A high tempo offense that is not only the latest trendy style of attack in the NFL, but also the type of offense the Colts, Titans and even the Texans had trouble stopping at times last year. Not to compare the Jags offense to the elites just yet because they still have not proven anything on a playing field that actually counts, but let us not forget about that overtime game where they scored 32 points against the Texans on their home turf last year.
I am not going to go as far as guaranteeing them a playoff spot, but I will say with their new coach, new uptempo scheme, best player back healthy, a quarterback that is now confident with a reconstructed offensive line, a maturing second year receiver after a great preseason and a pass rush showing flashes with Sen’Derrick Marks and Roy Miller coming up the middle, the Jags can finish 7-9. It could still be last in the AFC South, but definitely gives the fans something to cheer for.