Then the Jags would come screaming back to Earth.
Injury after injury would plague the Jags offensive line, the defense would regress, and the lack of a decent wide receiving threat would begin to take its toll on a promising season.
For the Jacksonville Jaguars, if you wanted to sum up their 2008 season, the word you would use is "disappointment".
And why not? After being within a touchdown of the undefeated Patriots late in the Divisional Round it seemed like the Jags were the team that was about to make the leap. David Garrard almost refused to turn the ball over in 2007, only throwing 3 picks during the year while completing 64% of his passes.
But those numbers also would come with the benefit of strong outputs of the Jags dynamic duo at running back in Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, as each back would account for over 1200 yards of total offense.
2008 was a different story for Jacksonville. Fred Taylor looked like his older self, only rushing for 556 yards and a single touchdown behind a decimated offensive line that saw both starting guards Vince Manuwai and Maurice Williams go down with season ending injuries, starting center Brad Meester miss the first six games of the season and tragically lost backup tackle Richard Collier after Collier was the victim of a shooting incident that left him paralyzed from the waist down with his left leg amputated.
Maurice Jones-Drew for all intents and purposes had a pretty solid year, but was also not the same explosive all-purpose back we had become accustomed to seeing, in large part because of the injury problems on the Jags line.
Despite all the injuries on offense, the Jags defense may have been the most disappointing element of their 2008 season. In 2007 the Jags defense was a solid 15th overall against the pass, but in 2008 they were only 24th in pass defense—surrendering just under 225 yards a game through the air.
Rashean Mathis had another fine season for the Jags, recording 4 interceptions, but the rest of the secondary was gouged and gouged repeatedly as of the 39 touchdowns scored against the Jacksonville defense a season ago—25 of those came through the air.
What all of this led to was a very up and down Jacksonville team to start the season, as they opened the year 4-5 and wound up losing six of their last seven contests to close the season 5-11, leaving the Jags as the only AFC South team with a losing record.
That record could be deceiving though as a wounded and overall banged up Jaguars team would lose six of those 11 contests by 7 points or less.
Which ironically was the difference in wins and losses from the 2007 season.
T Tra Thomas (Philadelphia)
S Marlon McCree (Denver)
S Sean Considine (Philadelphia)
QB Todd Bouman (Baltimore)
OT Khalif Barnes (Oakland)
LB Mike Peterson (Atlanta)
S Gerald Sensabaugh (Dallas)
CB Drayton Florence (Buffalo)
DE Paul Spicer (New Orleans)
TE George Wrighster (New York Giants)
S Pierson Prioleau (New Orleans)
G Tuten Reyes (New York Giants)
WR Matt Jones (Cut)
WR Reggie Williams (Unsigned)
WR Jerry Porter (Cut)
2-39. Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
3-72. Terrance Knighton, DT, Temple
3-73. Derek Cox, CB, William & Mary
4-107. Mike Thomas, WR/KR, Arizona
5-144. Jarett Dillard, WR, Rice
6-180. Zach Miller, TE, Nebraska-Omaha
7-250. Rashad Jennings, RB, Liberty
7-253. Tiquan Underwood, WR, Rutgers
But the new rags won't be the only new addition to this Jacksonville team. After injuries decimated the Jaguar offensive line in 2008, Jags GM Gene Smith made it a point to make sure that doesn't duplicate itself again in 2009.
At running back, Maurice Jones-Drew will now be the main guy as longtime Jag Fred Taylor left in free agency for the Patriots. Jones-Drew will be joined in the backfield by Greg Jones.
At wide receiver, perhaps the Jaguars biggest weakness a season ago, the Jags completely overhauled the depth chart at this position. Gone are first round busts Matt Jones and Reggie Williams and free agent disaster Jerry Porter. Torry Holt was signed to fill one vacated spot, but Jacksonville still looks dangerously thin at the position.
Defensively, the Jaguars will look very similar to what they did last season. They did however add two veteran safeties to their roster via free agency in Marlon McCree and Sean Considine.
|Sun 9/13||at Indianapolis|
|Sun 9/27||at Houston|
|Sun 10/11||at Seattle|
|Sun 10/18||St. Louis|
|Sun 11/1||at Tennessee|
|Sun 11/8||Kansas City|
|Sun 11/15||at NY Jets|
|Sun 11/29||at San Francisco|
|Sun 12/27||at New England|
|Sun 1/3||at Cleveland|
|Sun 12/13||at Minnesota|
|Sun 12/20||at San Diego|
|Sun 12/27||Kansas City|
|Sun 1/3||at NY Jets|
The good news is, this is a team that should not duplicate it's 5-11 record from a year ago. It should not be understated how hard injuries hit the Jacksonville offensive line, causing the Jags to almost instantaneously lose their biggest strengths as a whole.
The bad news is, while this team will improve, there are still some undeniable weaknesses on the roster that I believe they failed to address completely, particularly at wide receiver.
It also doesn't help that the Jags play in the strongest division in the AFC, and arguably the strongest division in all of football, a division that could very well field three playoff teams in 2009.
One of those three could be the Jaguars if they strike gold in the passing game and turn it around on defense.
Realistically speaking though, one of those three playoff teams will not be the Jacksonville Jaguars, as the weaknesses in the passing game will be too much to overcome in this strong AFC South
Predicted Finish: 7-9, 4th AFC South