With about two weeks remaining until the start of training camps around the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars find themselves as a trendy pick to surprise this upcoming season.
Following a 2015 campaign that saw Jacksonville put up some huge numbers on offense en route to playoff contention through November, there seems to be renewed optimism within the organization. That was increased back in the spring when Jacksonville did everything possible to upgrade its roster with an active free-agency period and successful draft.
Always willing to put himself out there in the public eye, eccentric Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is expecting big things from his club in 2016.
“We should have ambitions for the postseason now,” Khan said, via USA Today Sports. “I think we’ve suffered long enough. It’s been painful.”
There definitely is reason for optimism in Jacksonville.
Led by young franchise quarterback Blake Bortles, the Jaguars ranked in the top 10 in passing offense while accumulating the 14th-most points in the NFL last season.
For his part, Bortles put up over 4,400 passing yards with 35 touchdowns. He also saw both Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson tally 1,000-plus receiving yards. This was enough to help Jacksonville remain alive in the AFC Playoff picture into December.
Addressing weaknesses on the other side of the ball during the spring, Jacksonville signed veteran defensive end Malik Jackson and former Pro Bowl safety Tashaun Gipson.
It then doubled down on defense in the draft with defensive back Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Myles Jack with the team’s first two picks. Add in the return of last year’s first-round pick Dante Fowler Jr. after he missed his entire rookie campaign, and the Jaguars’ defense should be much improved.
While it remains to be seen whether this team will contend for a playoff spot, Khan seems confident in what is being built here.
“Now, we have the talent in place, and I think if you are a Jaguars fan, you should be excited and you should have some expectations that we’re going to be a sustainable, winning organization now,” the owner continued.
Jacksonville has not earned a playoff spot since the 2007 season when Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew dominated in the backfield en route to an 11-5 campaign. In the eight years since, the Jaguars have finished at .500 just once, winning five games or less six times.