The Jacksonville Jaguars spent significant money in free agency in the attempts to upgrade the roster and try to get away from selecting in the Top 10 of the draft, as they have the last eight years.
On the offensive side of the ball, the team added Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas, running backs T.J. Yeldon and Bernard Pierce, along with two projected starting offensive linemen in Jermey Parnell and Stefen Wisniewski.
The talent level has certainly been raised, but how much impact will there be in 2015?
The Jaguars are still trying to figure out what they have in quarterback Blake Bortles. The presence of Julius Thomas should assist Bortles greatly, especially in the red zone. Still, it will be a work in progress.
“Offensively we’re building and working towards it, and that’s what it’s going to take,” Thomas said when asked about the Jaguars offense in OTA’s.. “It’s going to take every day of making mistakes so you can get some new teaching and then making big plays so that you have the confidence.”
Thomas is going from working with one of the game’s all-time greats in Peyton Manning to an aspiring second-year quarterback who had very limited success. He described his relationship with Bortles.
“It’s been good,” Thomas said. “I’m definitely getting an opportunity to know him as a man on and off the field. I’m very impressed with his work ethic. He’s not cutting corners, he really wants to come out here and play at a high level and he’s doing things that it’s going to take to do that. I’m very impressed with that and he’s still young going into his second year so he’s going to keep improving and we’re going to keep doing all we can as a team to help him out.”
The main thing for Jaguars fans to keep in mind is that this offense is a work in progress. With a young quarterback, unproven running backs and an offensive line that looks better on paper, it will still take time for everything to develop and click.
“I think last year we had a better relationship as far as understanding each other than we did the first year I was playing,” Julius Thomas said of the time it took to get on the same page as Peyton Manning.. “It’s always growing. Chemistry is just like anything else in life; the longer you know somebody the more you understand them. I guess that’s the question of it just takes time. You’re continuing to learn each other, continuing to get better.”
Offensive lines, even the very good ones usually take a little while to get into sync. With the Jaguars expected to be a more running based offense, they will lean more on a line where guys are trying to fit and get to know each other.
Jacksonville opens with a game against the defending NFC South champion Carolina Panthers, followed by a game with a much improved Dolphins team, then a trip to the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, followed by a visit to the kings of the AFC South, the Indianapolis Colts.
It’s clearly a tough start for a team which needs a quick transition with new players, so immediate improvement may not be realistic.
How Much Improvement Will The Jaguars Show?
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