The Jacksonville Jaguars have not gotten anywhere close to .500 since they last reached 8-8 in 2010. Somehow, they may claw back in 2017.
Offseason predictions are beginning in earnest now that training camp is just days away. For Jacksonville Jaguars fans, this is usually the time of year when realistic expectations dampen the offseason victories.
USA Today delivered another (minor) win, however. Instead of putting the Jags far down the bottom of the AFC South, the publication predicted that Jacksonville could finish 8-8 and beat the Indianapolis Colts.
Writer Nate Davis outlined the situation:
Everything looks to be in place — a potentially dominant defense, upgraded O-line and (most exciting for Jags fans) rookie RB Leonard Fournette — to restore this franchise to relevance … if Blake Bortles can get back on track. The team will make its annual pilgrimage for a London “home” date in Week 3, immediately followed by two more road trips. If the Jags weather that, maybe they can make a run in December, which begins with three straight at EverBank Field.
The London-to-away-games stretch is going to be a difficult one for the Jags. Not every team can survive a stretch away from home like that. It also puts added stress early in the season that could potentially derail the entire 2017 campaign if things go south.
More importantly, everything comes back to the quarterback. Blake Bortles, like every other starting quarterback in the NFL, has an out-sized responsibility for his team’s fortunes. If Bortles continues his turnover prone play, the Jaguars simply can’t win.
Interestingly, Davis does not throw some traditional barbs about the Jaguars winning the offseason and then disappointing. It’s a small breath of fresh air in offseason coverage for a team that traditionally gets flack for even the smallest things.
No matter what, though, 8-8 is a big break for the Jaguars. It would be a huge improvement and represent the team turning over a new leaf.