Which Jags Must Step Up?

Although the Jaguars finished with a disappointing 5-11 record in 2011, a turnaround to the postseason is not out of the question. We are going to list the players and/or positions who need to improve for the team to dramatically improve next season.

The Jacksonville Jaguars were in a virtual no-win situation last year, as they had a lame-duck head coach, rookie quarterback playing with no outside weapons and no offseason to get acquainted with life in the NFL. Although expectations are down for the Jags, this year seems to have much more promise. The Jacksonville roster compares favorably to that of last season's surprise team, the Cincinnati Bengals.

Here are the positions that need improvement for the Jaguars to be successful.

1. Quarterback

Clearly with five losses of one score or less a season ago, the Jaguars weren't that far away from being a respectable team. Quarterback play was a major problem as Blaine Gabbert simply wasn't very good and he seemed to regress as the season progressed. With an offseason of training plus a significant upgrade in talent on the outside, Gabbert should improve in 2012. If not, there will be considerable pressure to play veteran backup Chad Henne.

2. Right Tackle

The Jaguars had a major hole at right tackle last season as Guy Whimper manned the position for much of the season. Former second-round pick Eben Britton is likely playing for his future in Jacksonville as he's been underwhelming in the rare time that he's been healthy over his first three seasons. As important as the quarterback position is for the Jags, no signal caller is going to have legitimate success with a major hole at right tackle.

3. Wide Receiver

The Jaguars wideouts were the worst in the NFL last season. Mike Thomas was masquerading in the role of a "number one," when he's clearly an average slot receiver and the others will be fortunate if they ever start another game in the NFL. Laurent Robinson was brought in to give Blaine Gabbert a legitimate target and the Jaguars traded up in the draft to acquire Justin Blackmon. If these new acquisitions can get open consistently, the Jaguars will be able to move the chains and climb into respectability on offense.

4. Defensive End

It appears as if the Jaguars stumbled upon a star last season in Jeremy Mincey, but to take their defense from very good to great, Mincey must have a favorable bookend. Veteran Aaron Kampman will be given one more shot to resurrect his career after a pair of ACL injuries. If he can't go then the onus will be on rookie second-round pick Andre Branch to provide a rush.

5. Left Guard

Although Maurice Jones-Drew was the league's leading rusher last season, the Jaguars interior line, specifically left guard had a major hole. Rookie Will Rackley seemed overwhelmed for much of the season and he must play better in his sophomore campaign if Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne are going to have enough time to throw.

Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie

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