Coming out of 2016, the Jacksonville Jaguars had a lot of questions. They fired coach Gus Bradley and had Doug Marrone take over in the interim, making him the official head coach in the offseason. They also added former head coach Tom Coughlin as VP of football operations. They were coming off a 3-13 record and had big questions about starting quarterback Blake Bortles who had just finished his third season and the decision on taking a fifth year option had to be made. The team picked up that option and named him the starting quarterback for the season with Chad Henne backing him up. They also drafted running back Leonard Fournette in the first round.
With so much uncertainty going into the season, a lot of things fell into place in just the right way. Fournette ran for over a thousand yards and rushed for nine touchdowns. Bortles had a career high in completion percentage and a career low in interceptions. The team went 10-6 and won their division, They went on to beat the Buffalo Bills in the wild card round and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional round. They faced off with the New England Patriots in the AFC championship and lost in a close 24-20 game. The Jaguars started off average, going 3-3 in the first six game before things clicking and making a 7-1 run over the next eight only to lose the final two games of the season. What helped the team a lot were injuries to Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson that kept both the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans down at 4-12.
This team wasn’t nearly as bad as their 2016 3-13 record, but they might not be as good as their 2017 10-6 either. Bortles turned the ball over less and completed more, but he also through for less touchdowns and less yards than the last two seasons. That can be attributed to almost 100 less throws because of Fournette. He was a good game manager this year, but is he their quarterback of the future? Word is he had right wrist surgery since the season ended and he played most of the season with the injury. The team will be paying close attention to his recovery. The question becomes, do they give him another year as starter? They don’t draft high enough to grab an elite quarterback, but they could pick up one in the second or third rounds to develop over the season. But there are a couple intriguing veterans hitting the market like Case Keenum, Nick Foles and of course Kirk Cousins. Would Marrone and the team consider any of them upgrades over Bortles?
The Jaguars have a young, talented group of players to build a future on… but a decision at quarterback will need to be made sooner rather than later.