Aug 17, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew (32) runs the ball against the New York Jets during the first quarter of a preseason game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
2012 Record: 2-14; 4th Place
2013 Prediction: 4-12
Confidence in Pick: 35%
Losses: Greg Jones, Justin Blackmon (suspension)
Pickups: Justin Forsett, Geno Hayes, Sen’Derrick Marks, Mohamed Massaquoi, Marcus Trufant
Reasons for Optimism:
Return of MJD – How bad was the Jags running game without MJD? MJD lead the team in rushing in 2012…despite missing 10 games due to injury! 414 yards is all it took! Don’t forget, in his last full season (2011), MJD lead the NFL with 1,606 yards rushing and added 8 TDs. His presence alone will make the QB and O-Line better, no matter who that QB is.
WR Duo – At the end of the year, Shorts and Blackmon made up a pretty impressive WR duo. Shorts and Blackmon accounted for 1,844 yards and 12 TDs. Pretty impressive numbers for 2 guys who had Gabbert and Henne throwing them the ball and no run game to speak of. With MJD back, these two should account for 1,000 yards each (so long as Blackmon can stay on the field and off of suspension).
O-Line – Usually 50 sacks is not the type of stat that gets your O-Line on the “Reasons for Optimism” list, but with #1 overall pick Luke Joeckel at RT and Eugene Monroe at LT, this should be a decent O-Line and one that can establish the run. It is easy for a line to give up a lot of sacks when the team is always behind (and on their way to a 2-14 record) because the defense can pin their ears back and rush the passer. Plus, they weren’t exactly worried about the Jags running attack – 414 yards from the leading rusher).