That’s at least the way Sporting News feels, but I must say I disagree.
The publication picked the Jaguars to finish fourth in their division, a year after the Jaguars went 8-8 and finished second in the AFC South.
Per Sporting News:
“The Jaguars are about halfway through a rebuilding process since (Gene) Smith took over as G.M. He started by overhauling the tackle positions on both lines and eventually will bulldoze the back seven of a leaky defense.”
The preview cited a porous back seven (as well as an overall unimpressive group of defensive personnel,) inconsistent quarterback play from David Garrard and questionable receivers as the team’s biggest downfalls.
“A suspect pass rush, combined with pitiful secondary play and a shaky linebacker corps, have made the Jaguars easy pickings for above-average quarterbacks. The Jaguars added only two defensive players in the draft—both mid-round defensive backs—so they'll have to upgrade the defense in free agency.”
Sporting News is dead on with analyzing the team’s personnel and is completely correct in assuming that a few defensive players will be added via free agency.
But I do not think the Jaguars will be a cellar dweller this season. For clarity sake, I did think the Jaguars were closer to a six-win team than they were to an eight-win team entering last season and the team surprised me, so the Jaguars could slightly surprise me again this season.
However, I view the Jaguars as a .500 team again in 2011. There are some glaring weaknesses but they will probably be instantly erased. As long as Garrard plays ok and third-year players progress like they should, the team will be competitive in most games.
And with the Tennessee Titans likely depending on a rookie quarterback (Jake Locker,) the Houston Texans still trying to get past the playoff hump and the Indianapolis Colts aging, it seems to me that an 8-8 (or even 7-9) record should be more of a third-place or even second-place finish.