In 2013, the Jacksonville Jaguars know that they can only go up. The 2012 season was a long, unending march of misery. Substantial improvement is the goal this season but the football betting handicappers don’t expect much of that to happen.
Best Offseason Move:
The Jaguars know that they have to get better quarterback play, so protecting Blaine Gabbert (who beat out Chad Henne for the starting job in training camp and the preseason) is a top priority. The organization went out and made good use of its No. 2 overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft. Jacksonville tabbed Luke Joeckel after the Kansas City Chiefs went with another offensive lineman, Eric Fisher, with the first pick in the draft.
Joeckel is, plainly put, the main reason why Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was able to remain fairly healthy throughout the 2012 college football season, en route to the first Heisman Trophy-winning season by a freshman in the 79-year history of the award. Joeckel did have some help along the front line – teammate Jake Matthews, who is still on the Aggies’ roster this season – is likely to be a top-five pick in the 2014 NFL Draft if he stays healthy this season – but Joeckel was the rock on which A&M’s offense was built. Joeckel served as the main part of the platform for Manziel’s stratospheric rise. Putting him on the offensive line in front of Gabbert represents a very strong and clear message about Jacksonville’s commitment to its starting quarterback. This is a tactically sound move, and it’s also a politically smart move. Organizations need to take care of young quarterbacks if they expect them to perform at a high level and carry many responsibilities.
Worst Offseason Move:
It was very important for the Jaguars to get players who are likely to be compatible with a first-year head coach’s schemes and packages. Creating an environment in which players will embrace an unproven head coach, former Seattle Seahawk defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, is essential to the team’s success.
Why, then, would Jacksonville select a journeyman cornerback, Alan Ball, as part of its rebuilding project? Ball has just 22 career starts and a not-exactly-whopping total of three interceptions in what is roughly a season and a half of work. One could perhaps say that with only 22 starts on the odometer, Ball has a lot of energy left in the tank and could be physically fresh for the season. Perhaps that’s what Jacksonville was banking on when it signed the cornerback to a two-year deal. However, if this is how a lowly organization tries to dig its way out of trouble, it’s hard to be particularly convinced or impressed by such a move. This is not a high-end player… not at the moment, at least.
How They’ll Finish In The Division:
The Jaguars were 2-14 last season. It’s hard to be worse, right? Jacksonville might grab a win in one or two toss-up games that didn’t break in its direction last season. That means a total of four wins… tops. Hey, maybe they’ll cover a few NFL spreads – you never know. It’s still going to be a long, hard, miserable slog of a season in the northern part of Florida.
Super Bowl Odds: +15000