As we are getting closer to the start of the regular season, the Jacksonville Jaguars look to be pretty confident heading into the year with their squad of young talent.
There seems to be a lot of potential at each position, however, it takes time to develop young talent.
With that said, what are the true, realistic expectations that we, the fans, should expect out of the 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars?
I have already written a couple of articles pertaining to the fact that the Jaguars do not possess a very tough out-of-conference schedule. Nonetheless, the team must go in week after week and play at the high level that they are capable of playing at.
As any NFL fan knows, there is absolutely no way to predict the final outcome at the end of the year as to what teams will win the divisions, make the playoffs, or even come in dead last.
Heading into the start of last year, the Jaguars were ranked in many pre-season power rankings in the top five. I saw them at the number one position in a couple. I briefly even remember a couple ESPN analysts saying that the Jaguars may reach the Super Bowl.
One year later, the Jaguars are one of many teams that seem to have an unrealistic chance to even make the playoffs.
Many may argue, but I think that it is highly unfair to count this team out right now. After looking at the responses on some polls I have had in previous articles, I'd say that a lot of other people think that this team has the potential to do big things this year as well.
If I were to ask a football fan what makes a team good, I'd expect to hear that a team needs a good quarterback, running back, and defense.
The more knowledgeable football fan may say something like the offensive line, weapons, and possibly the team depth incase of injury.
Looking at all these categories of positions, do the Jaguars fulfill any of them?
Quarterback? I'd say that is a definite check. David Garrard is a leader who is mobile and can throw the ball. He isn't Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, but he is definitely capable of doing well with a good team.
Running Back? Check. Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the biggest threats in the league, and now with an increased workload, he may turn out some eye-popping numbers.
Defense? I'd have to give that half a check. This team has plenty of guys getting ready to step up and start or have a largely increased work load. Guys like Derrick Harvey, Quentin Groves, Sean Considine, Derek Cox, Marlon McCree, Justin Durant, and Clint Ingram have huge roles this year.
It would be difficult to give this team a full check with all the unproven players, but it would also be unfair to not give any credit to a team with a strong core in John Henderson, Daryl Smith, Reggie Nelson, and Rashean Mathis.
Offensive line? Check. After a horrendous year, this team has some of the best depth and talent in the league. Given that starters Maurice Williams, Brad Meester, and Vince Manuwai return to form, this team with give Garrard plenty of time, and Jones-Drew plenty of room to run.
Weapons? Half a check. After losing a weapon in Fred Taylor, the Jaguars signed a much needed veteran in Torry Holt. Jones-Drew is one of the best weapons in the game, and Rashad Jennings may turn some heads.
Rookies Mike Thomas, Jarrett Dillard, and Tiquan Underwood, may all become weapons. Still do not possess a great talent at tight end, and an aging Holt is reason to worry, but definitely more weapons compared to last year.
Lastly, is there depth in the roster? Half a check. Depending on what position you look at, there is either a great amount of talented depth or not too much talent. Quarterback is worrying with Cleo Lemons and Todd Bouman.
Running back is very concerning if Jennings doesn't produce like they are hoping. Wide receiver is pretty deep, but doesn't have many guys that have proven themselves. The offensive line, due to what happened last year, has great depth and talent.
Both Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton (the first and second round selections in the 2009 NFL draft) are listed as back-ups along with Jordan Black and Uche Nwaneri. This team can go into the season with much more confidence if anything happens due to injury.
So what record can Jaguars fans truly, and realistically expect? Again, there is absolutely no way of truly telling, but I am willing to say that this team has the talent to win at least eight games. I believe they can pull out an unexpected win here or there and win possibly nine or ten games with the chance of winning the wild card birth.
Here is the game-by-game breakdown as to where I see the wins:
Week One: @ Colts L (0-1)
Week Two: Cardinals L (0-2)
Week Three: @ Texans W (1-2)
Week Four: Titans W (2-2)
Week Five: @ Seahawks W (3-2)
Week Six: Rams W (4-2)
Week Seven: BYE
Week Eight: @ Titans L (4-3)
Week Nine: Chiefs W (5-3)
Week 10: @ Jets W (6-3)
Week 11: Bills W (7-3)
Week 12: @ 49ers W (8-3)
Week 13: Texans L (8-4)
Week 14: Dolphins W (9-4)
Week 15: Colts L (9-5)
Week 16:@ Patriots L (9-6)
Week 17: @ Browns W (10-6)
This is my best case scenario where the Jaguars are able to pull out 10 wins during the season despite only winning two conference games.
Will the Jaguars have a chance of going 10-6? I sure hope so, but a lot of players will need to step up and contribute right away in order for the team to be this successful.