Jaguars: Have They Done Enough?

If you're not getting better, you're getting worse. That is one of the oldest cliché's in professional sports, and it applies in the NFL as much, if not more than any other sport. The Jaguars made some moves in the offseason, but nothing earth shattering, or "sexy."

The biggest roster upgrades from last season have been health-related. The Jaguars get back a healthy Byron Leftwich, Mike Peterson, Reggie Hayward, and Marcus Stroud for the 2007 season. Add them to free agent acquisitions Dennis Northcutt, Tony Pashos, and Jermaine Wiggins, as well as rookies Reggie Nelson, Mike Walker, and Justin Durant, and the Jaguars will start the season off with a much better team that finished 2006.

The real question is have they done enough. That will obviously be answered over the next four months, but first lets examine the rest of the AFC South. The AFC South should be considerably better in 2007. Although the Super Bowl Champion Colts lost a lot in free agency (Jason David, Nick Harper, Mike Doss, Brandon Stokely, and Cato June), all of those positions seemingly underachieved in 2006. The Colts have decided to go younger and promote from within, with aspiring stars such as Antoine Bethea, Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden, Anthony Gonzalez, and veteran Rob Morris. The only real possible setbacks for the Colts stem from the retirement of Pro Bowl left tackle Tarik Glenn, and the season ending injury to defensive tackle Anthony McFarland. Even with those losses, I can't see the Colts being a considerably worse team than last year. They are still the standard of excellence in the AFC South, and obviously the team to beat.

The second place team from the AFC South in 2006 was the Tennessee Titans. It would take a very blind, pro-Titans supporter to not believe that the Titans will have some kind of major setback in 2007. The Titans lost their best running back, in Travis Henry, their best wide receiver, in Drew Bennett, and their best overall player, in Adam "Pacman" Jones. Throw in an old offensive line, an inexperienced quarterback, and the worst set of receivers in the NFL (with all apologies to Eric Moulds), and the Titans have all the makings of a double-digit loss team. I know that everyone across ESPN states how great of a leader Vince Young is, but he is a terrible passer. His rating was 66.7, good for 29th in the league, and he barely completed over 50% of his passes. Take away his best weapons, and Young is headed for a major letdown. General Norman Schwarzkopf was a great leader as well, but I wouldn't want him quarterbacking my team either.

To round out the division are the proverbial thorns in the Jaguars sides, the Houston Texans. The Texans defeated the Jaguars twice in 2006, for the second out of the last three years, and the Texans have made some wholesale changes in 2007. Gone is former number one overall pick, David Carr, and in is former Falcons backup Matt Schaub (wonder if the Falcons would take a mulligan on that deal?). The Texans have added running back Ahman Green, as well as some young aspiring stars in Amobi Okoye and Jacoby Jones. The Texans have all the makings of a surprise team in 2007, and appear to be ready to contend for years to come.

Early indications are that the Jaguars could be division title contenders, or they could finish in third place. Head to head, they were a better team than the defending champs in 2006. Where the Jaguars lost ground was against the rest of the division (where they finished 1-3). If the Jaguars are going to compete for a division title, they must take care of business against their division rivals. Over the last three years, the Jaguars division record is just 8-10. Over the same period of time, the Colts division record is 14-4. The Houston Texans appear to have a team that is finally worthy of the Jaguars attention in 2007. The hapless Texans hold a 6-4 edge over the Jaguars all-time, despite having the worst record in the entire league over their brief history. The Jaguars will likely be able to dominate the Titans, who have a severe lack of frontline talent, as they did in 2006, despite dropping one game in Nashville due to a complete meltdown at the quarterback position.

In summation, the Jaguars have a great opportunity to win their first division title since 1999, but they will have to show up and be ready to play each week. The Colts are a very well coached team, and they will likely not experience a "Super Bowl hangover." The Titans, however decimated, are also well coached, and will surprise more than a few teams during the 2007 season. And of course the Texans have displayed their ownership of the Jaguars over their brief history, and have a team that appears to be much better than the team that lost 10 games in 2006.

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