I know it’s crazy to think about, but the 2016 Jacksonville Jaguars have the chance to pull off one of the greatest franchise turn-arounds in NFL history.
The team, despite their win-loss record, already showed a lot of potential last year with the start of quarterback Blake Bortles’ career and two solid targets to throw to in receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. Now, Jacksonville has made moves this offseason to propel them to real success in the next five years.
It may not be immediate, but the talent level on this team almost guarantees them to become a team that contends with the Colts and Texans for the top spot in the AFC South, and potentially even steal a first-round playoff game in a weak AFC bracket.
Their moves this offseason made them immensely better on both sides of the ball, with big free agency signings of running back Chris Ivory, offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum, defensive lineman Malik Jackson, and safety Tashaun Gipson. The moves give them more to work with on offense to support Bortles and his impressive passing game, and provides more consistency on the defensive side of the ball.
Those big defensive names, however, weren’t the only splashes the Jaguars made this offseason. With their prime NFL Draft position, Jacksonville selected Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey with the fifth pick, and then selected UCLA linebacker Myles Jack in the second round with an absolute steal of a pick. Jack is currently recovering from a significant knee injury, which deterred teams from taking the chance to select him in the first round after performing at an elite level in his collegiate days. The two may not be immediate stars, but their potential and upside give them the chance to become top-five players at their respective positions.
Another sleeper in this whole equation is Dante Fowler, Jr. Fowler missed all of his rookie season with a knee injury after being picked with the third overall pick by the Jaguars in the 2015 draft. His return alongside Jackson and Jack in the front seven will make the Jaguars a force with their pass-rush, and Ramsey and Gipson will be able to bail the team out in the secondary.
Like I said, it’s crazy to think that the Jaguars, who provided some of the worst win-loss records in the NFL consistently for years, could be a true contender in the next few years. The talent level on this team is through the roof, and the sky is the limit for what they can achieve. Combine that with a relatively-weak schedule compared to other big teams in the league, and we could be seeing the Jaguars in the playoffs in the 2016 season.