The Jaguars haven’t had a 3-1 start since 2017, with the Jets denying them this time last year in an overtime win. Optimism was high after a 2-0 start that included an impressive win over the Patriots, but they surprisingly lost 9-6 to the Titans on Sunday.
Let’s review how their roster shapes up:
Blake Bortles led the Jaguars to a 10-6 record last year after having won just 11 starts in his first three years. He also surpassed the 60 percent completions plateau for the first time.
He has been erratic at times over his career with 12 pick-sixes. However, we shouldn’t underestimate his ability to make plays with his legs. Bortles rushed for 88 yards in a postseason win over the Bills last season.
Cody Kessler is Bortles’ backup. He didn’t start last year, throwing just 23 passes in a reserve role. However, he made eight starts in 2016, losing all of them.
The Jaguars upgraded their offensive line by signing the top free agent Andrew Norwell to a five-year deal to play left guard. However, with Cam Robinson on injured reserve, they’ve had to turn to the inexperienced Josh Wells to man the blind side. Wells has struggled so far, but Robinson was the weak link anyway, giving up the most sacks and pressures, along with 14 penalties, in 2017.
The rest of the offensive line has been intact for a couple of years with AJ Cann at right guard, Jeremy Parnell at right tackle and Brandon Linder at center. Over the past few years, Linder has been their most consistent lineman, although he’s the only starter to give up a sack so far this year.
Fourth round rookie Will Richardson is now the primary backup but the rest of their bench is made up of three former undrafted players; Chris Reed, Tyler Shatley and Josh Walker. Reed started the last game with Cann out and might be called upon again as Cann is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
Leonard Fournette had a thousand-yard season in his rookie year, but he’s been banged up so far this season. On Friday, head coach Doug Marrone said Fournette was “50-50” to play against the Jets, so it sounds like he will be a gametime decision.
In Fournette’s absence, TJ Yeldon has led the Jaguars in rushing with 153 yards and also added 11 receptions. Corey Grant has been backing up Yeldon.
So far, the Jaguars have no rushing touchdowns, but Fournette displayed a nose for the end zone with nine scores on the ground last year.
Two former Jets round out the rotation in fullback Tommy Bohanon and tailback Brandon Wilds. Bohanon was a pro bowl alternate last year after having been out of the league in 2016.
The Jaguars, having got rid of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in the offseason, then lost Marqise Lee to injury. However, Keelan Cole is emerging into a potential star. He has 15 catches for 210 yards and a score in the first three games.
Youngster Dede Westbrook has also stepped up his production. After catching just 27 passes last year, he already has 12 in the first three games.
Veteran Donte Moncrief has also been seeing plenty of playing time and has seven receptions for 64 yards so far. Rookie DJ Chark is also working his way into the rotation, although he’s only caught one pass.
Jaydon Mickens hasn’t played much yet, but showed some promise last season with a two-touchdown game against the Texans.
There’s a familiar face at tight end with Austin Seferian-Jenkins starting. He’s only recorded 66 yards in the first three games though. He did have a touchdown, although he also had a drop that turned into an interception in the New England game.
Seferian-Jenkins is backed up by the versatile Niles Paul and James O’Shaughnessy.
The Jaguars had six pro bowlers last year and all of them were on defense, including three defensive linemen.
Calais Campbell, who signed a four year, $60 million deal last year, has responded well to the challenge of moving to defensive end in a 4-3 system. He had his first season with double-digit sacks by racking up 14.5 last year and already has three this season.
Joining him in the pro bowl were defensive tackle Malik Jackson and pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue. Having improved against the run over the last few years, Ngakoue is now a full time player and was able to rack up 12 sacks of his own last season. Jackson has delivered well on an eye-popping six-year, $90 million deal so far.
Ngakoue has been keeping 2015’s third overall pick, Dante Fowler Jr., on the bench. However, Fowler still contributes well as a situational rusher. He had eight sacks himself last year and added a strip sack on Tom Brady two weeks ago. The Jets were linked with a possible move for Fowler during the offseason.
Marcel Dareus is the other starter on the inside, although run stopper Abry Jones also gets plenty of reps off the bench. Lerentee McCray and rookie Taven Bryan provide depth on the edge.
With veteran Paul Posluszny finally leaving after a decade with the franchise, Telvin Smith and Myles Jack now anchor the linebacker unit. Smith went to the pro bowl last year, having led the Jaguars in tackles, but he has missed several tackles so far this year. Jack scored a long-distance touchdown against the Jets in last year’s game.
The other starter is rookie Leon Jacobs, who has proven to be good value in the seventh round. The Jaguars play a lot of subpackages though, so they usually just have two linebackers on the field.
Blair Brown, last year’s fifth round pick, is available in reserve and McCray also sees time at linebacker.
The Jaguars secondary is led by last year’s fifth overall pick Jalen Ramsey, who was an All Pro in his second season.
Ramsey is paired with AJ Bouye, who signed a big money deal last year. He was also a pro bowler last year, having led Jacksonville with six interceptions.
Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson return as the starters at safety, bringing good experience to the position. Rookie Ronnie Harrison is the third safety.
DJ Hayden, the third cornerback, is injured, so Tyler Patmon is probably the next man up for the nickel packages.
Veteran kicker Josh Lambo has made all of his field goal attempts so far this season, although none of them were from beyond 50 yards. The Jaguars have a rookie punter, Logan Cooke, whose numbers have been underwhelming so far.
Mickens is the primary return man, having returned a punt for a touchdown last season. Westbrook, Chark and Grant are also options in the return game.
Reserves like McCray, linebacker Donald Payne and safety Jarrod Wilson are the Jaguars’ most productive players in coverage.