The Jacksonville Jaguars made the postseason for the first time in 10 years. Expectations are high and they will face challenges as they attempt to improve in 2018.
Blake Bortles is entering his fifth year as the Jaguars’ starting quarterback. Despite not having his best statistical season last year, Jacksonville picked up his fifth-year option. They showed their loyalty to the signal caller, when they could have ventured into free agency and attempted to sign Kirk Cousins.
He helped lead the team to their first winning season since 2007, a playoff appearance, and their first Conference Championship appearance since 1999. The long list of accomplishments in 2017 puts a target on Jacksonville’s back for 2018 and Bortles has embraced that.
“From what we did last year, the expectations have changed a little bit,” Bortles said at a charity golf tournament. “Within the lock room, they (expectations) were definitely different last year and I think they’re only going to continue to change and grow and get higher. I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a good challenge and it will be a good year.”
Bortles sounds confident heading into 2018, but it will be very difficult for the team to replicate their success and here are three reasons why.
3. Who is Bortles throwing the ball to?
This offseason the Jacksonville Jaguars lost two key wide receivers and their tight end via free agency, Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson and Marcedes Lewis.
All three players have played with Bortles since the Jaguars drafted him in 2014. Last season, the injury bug played a role in Hurns’ and Robinson’s season.
Robinson tore his ACL on his first reception in week one against the Houston Texans. Despite missing the entire season, NFL Network ‘s Ian Rapoport ranked Robinson has the No. 3 Top 101 Free Agents of 2018. The Chicago Bears inked the wide out to a three-year deal worth $42 million. Lets not forget, Robinson is only 24 years old.
Hurns is jus two years removed from his one and only 1,000+ yards and 10-touchdown season. The 26-year-old receiver signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys and is their number two wide receiver. He has the potential to be Dak Prescott’s number one because there is uncertainty surrounding Terrance Williams’ future with the organization.
Lastly, Lewis was a veteran and a huge red-zone target for Bortles. His numbers to pop off the chart, but he played an important role on offense, especially in the run game.
Bortles will now need to depend on two wide receivers that have a combined five years of NFL experience. Rookie Keelan Cole showed potential last season, but wasn’t a game-changer. The Jaguars have a ton of faith in Marqise Lee, who they re-signed to four-year deal, worth $38 million, but he still hasn’t had a breakout year.