Predicting Top Offensive, Defensive Stat Leaders for Jacksonville Jaguars
Who will lead the Jacksonville Jaguars statistically in 2012?
That's what I'm here to tell you as we take a look into the crystal ball.
The Jaguars have almost never been a team to produce flashy, gaudy individual numbers.
The last time the Jags produced a 4,000-yard passer was Mark Brunell in 1996, the last 1,000-yard receiver was Jimmy Smith in 2005 and the last player with double-digit sacks was Bobby McCray back in 2006.
The Jaguars could be turning the corner, however, if quarterback Blaine Gabbert progresses and the front office gets receiver help and defensive help via free agency and the draft.
Better stats in these categories could amount to an increase in the most important statistic: victories.
Passing Yards: Blaine Gabbert
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I fully expect Mark Brunell to keep the title as the last Jaguar to top 4,000 passing yards, but I also expect Blaine Gabbert to take steps forward and lead the team in passing yards this season.
Gabbert threw for 2,214 yards last season, good enough for only 26th in the NFL. Topping the 3,000-yard plateau would be a huge step forward for Gabbert and will make the passing game a pretty good threat for opposing defenses in 2012.
If Gabbert takes a step forward, the entire team as a whole will be a threat to the opposition and will see more notches in the win column.
In the event that backup quarterback Chad Henne leads this category, it will not have been a good season for the Jaguars.
Rushing Yards: Maurice Jones-Drew
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Despite his current contract squabble with the team, I would bet any amount of money that Maurice Jones-Drew still leads the team in rushing, even if his yards take a dip this season.
I am not a betting man by any means, but there would have to be a catastrophic sequence of events for Jones-Drew to not lead the team in rushing, something he has done for the last four seasons.
Jones-Drew has the talent to be a threat to reach 2,000 rushing yards, but I expect his carries to go down from his league-leading 343 in 2011, making it more difficult to reach that milestone
My best guess would be around 1,300 yards for MJD. That is no knock against him at all or any indication that he has lost a step.
That is purely based off Gabbert progressing. If Gabbert progresses, then Jones-Drew's yardage will drop.
Receiving Yards: Laurent Robinson
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Although Justin Blackmon was the first-round pick for the Jaguars, Laurent Robinson is the No. 1 receiver heading into 2012, and he should be.
Robinson proved that he can be productive with a very good season in 2011 where caught 58 passes for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Robinson did not amass more than 1,000 yards last season, but has the ability to be the first in seven seasons for Jacksonville.
In order for that to happen, he has to become a target that Gabbert can trust to throw the ball to when he is in trouble—a security blanket if you will.
Robinson's numbers also depend on Gabbert improving his own game.
Robinson seems to be the first dependable option Gabbert has had in his young career and should be looking to get the ball to him often.
Tackles: Paul Posluszny
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Paul Posluszny led the team in tackles in 2011 with 119, and there's no reason why he shouldn't do the same in 2012.
Posluszny will probably have more room to make big plays with a seemingly improved defensive line in front of him to keep opposing offensive lineman off him.
Fellow linebacker Daryl Smith will be a close second in this category, as he was in 2011, but Posluszny being in the middle linebacker spot will allow him to get the ball carrier just a little bit more.
A sleeper for this category is safety Dawan Landry who finished last season third on the team with 97 tackles from the secondary.
Sacks: Andre Branch
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This may be a pipe-dream pick for Jaguars fans as they hope Branch turns out to be the sacks leader for the defense. That is the reason why he was drafted in the second round to begin with.
Branch recorded 10.5 sacks during his last season at Clemson and will be expected to put up similar numbers as a Jaguar.
Fellow defensive end Jeremy Mincey led the team with eight sacks last season and will more than likely lead the team in this category in the event that Branch does not.
Either way, both are capable of breaking the streak of seasons without a having a player with double-digit sacks.
Interceptions: Aaron Ross
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This was a tough one to predict.
The only guy known for getting interceptions in the Jaguars secondary is Rashean Mathis, but who knows how much he will produce coming off an ACL injury last season.
Outside of Mathis, there aren't really guys that get a gaudy amount of picks.
Let's go with the free-agent acquisition in Aaron Ross for this one.
He will not have the help of a great defensive line in front of him like he had as a member of the New York Giants, so he may see a lot more balls come his way.
He will lead the team, but it will not be with a number that jumps off the page. The Jags play a team defense, especially when it come to interceptions. Despite finishing 13th in interceptions in 2011, no one on the roster caught more than two.
All-Purpose Yards: Maurice Jones-Drew
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Maurice Jones-Drew led the team in all-purpose yards last season, and I don't expect to see that change in 2012.
Jones-Drew is a dual-threat in the run game and receiving game. Since he is a very good pass-blocker as well, he stays on the field on third down, which amounts to many receptions out of the backfield.
While Jones-Drew led the league with 1,606 rushing yards, he was also third on the team with 374 receiving yards and amassed 1,980 all-purpose yards.
Jones-Drew's versatility will keep him at the top of this category.