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Jacksonville Jaguars Betting Tips – All Eyes On Gabbert Heading In To Year Two

Posted by Tony Bryant on 6/29/2012 4:48:34 PM

The Jacksonville Jaguars finished with the sixth-ranked defensive unit last season, while running back Maurice Jones-Drew steamrolled his way to the NFL rushing title on offense. On paper, a solid defense and excellent run game would seem like the perfect recipe for success, yet the Jaguars stumbled out of the gate and eventually finished 5-11, third place in the AFC South. Despite strong defensive play and Jones-Drew leading the run game, Jacksonville’s passing attack finished dead-last in the NFL by a long shot, and much of the disappointment was put on the shoulders of rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who was clearly not ready to start from day one. With a new coaching staff, new owner, and some new offensive weapons, the Jaguars are hoping Gabbert can turn things around in 2012, and much of the team’s success will hinge on his overall improvement.

Head Coach: Mike Mularkey
Offensive Coordinator: Bob Bratkowski
Defensive Coordinator: Mel Tucker
Owner: Shahid Khan
Stadium: Jacksonville Stadium
Capacity: 67,164
Super Bowl Wins: 0

Offense

There really is no way to overstate how awful Gabbert was in his rookie season, as his 65.4 passer rating qualified for worst in the NFL, and he rarely showed flashes of what made him a first-round pick. Jaguars’ general manager Gene Smith showed faith in him by not bringing in a veteran starter to replace him, as Chad Henne is clearly the backup, while hiring a head coach that specializes in quarterback development in Mike Mularkey, as well as a brand new arsenal of receivers. Jacksonville traded up in the draft to select Justin Blackmon at No. 5, and there is reason to believe the Oklahoma State product is already the best receiver in franchise history. In addition to the No. 1 in Blackmon, the Jaguars also brought in Laurent Robinson from Dallas after he scored 11 touchdowns with the Dallas Cowboys, as well as veteran Lee Evans while retaining Mike Thomas. Jacksonville’s receiving core has improved dramatically, and with Jones-Drew continuing to be the workhorse back in the ground game, all eyes will be on Gabbert to see if he can take the necessary step forward in sportsbook year two.

Grade: B -

Defense

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker took over the play-calling duties in 2011, and the Jaguars improved from 28th in the NFL in 2010 to sixth last season. Tucker likes his units to play fast and streak to the ball, and with the addition of defensive end Andre Branch in the second round and cornerback Aaron Ross via free agency, Jacksonville has the chance to be even better in Year Two of Tucker calling the plays. Tyson Alualu and Terrence Knighton represent a solid tackle tandem that can anchor the middle of the defense when healthy, and Branch joins the rotation at end with Aaron Kampman and Jeremy Mincey, who had eight sacks and four forced fumbles a year ago. Middle linebacker Paul Posluzby was a home run hit in his first year with the club, tackling everything in his vicinity and earning a reputation as a leader on the field. Ross will provide depth behind Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox, and that’s a good thing since all three are solid starters, but all missed time a year ago. The safety position improved dramatically a year ago with Dwight Lowery and Dawan Landry providing stability in the back.

Grade: B +

Special Teams

Kicker Josh Scobee is coming off the best season of his career after hitting 23-of-25 attempts, good for the second-highest percentage in franchise history, and the Jaguars also have a solid punter in rookie Bryan Anger, who they drafted in the third round after an excellent college football betting season. Where they will need improvement is in the return game, where they failed to find the endzone last season. Mike Thomas and Cecil Shorts are the favorites to handle the return duties, but don’t be surprised if another threat emerges in camp.

Grade: B -

Projection

Mularkey is already ahead of the curve in Jacksonville since he already has one of the top defenses and rushing attacks in the NFL, and will get to focus on his biggest strength, which is developing quarterbacks. Mularkey helped Matt Ryan become what he is with the Atlanta Falcons the past few seasons, and if he can help Gabbert come along even marginally in year two of his NFL career, the Jaguars could be a legitimate sports bet threat to contend for a Wild Card spot with a relatively easy schedule and only one major weakness heading in to this season.

Projected Record: (9-7; Second in AFC South)

2012 Schedule

Week 1 – at Minnesota (1:00 PM ET)
Week 2 – vs. Houston (1:00 PM ET)
Week 3 – at Indianapolis (1:00 PM ET)
Week 4 – vs. Cincinnati (4:05 PM ET)
Week 5 – vs. Chicago (4:05 PM ET)
Week 6 – BYE WEEK
Week 7 – at Oakland (4:25 PM ET)
Week 8 – at Green Bay (1:00 PM ET)
Week 9 – vs. Detroit (1:00 PM ET)
Week 10 – vs. Indianapolis (Thursday, 8:25 PM ET)
Week 11 - at Houston (1:00 PM ET)
Week 12 – vs. Tennessee (1:00 PM ET)
Week 13 – at Buffalo (1:00 PM ET)
Week 14 – vs. New York (1:00 PM ET)
Week 15 – at Miami (1:00 PM ET)
Week 16 – vs. New England (1:00 PM ET)
Week 17 – at Tennessee (1:00 PM ET)


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