Jaguars hoping to halt 4-year streak of NFL futility
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars have shown few, if any, signs of progress over the past four years.
They are an NFL-worst 14-50 since 2010, the most dreadful stretch in the franchise's 20-year history and one of the least productive spans since the NFL moved to a 16-game schedule in 1978. Only Tampa Bay (1983-86), Detroit (2006-09) and St. Louis (2007-10) lost more games in a four-year window during those 37 seasons.
Jacksonville will try - once again - to end its futility streak this season. The Jaguars open training camp Friday in Jacksonville.
''It's time for us to do something,'' veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis said. ''It's just been too long.''
Since general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley took over in 2013, hope, patience and rebuilding have been the main selling points. With seven wins in two seasons, those NFL cliches are starting to ring hollow.
Nonetheless, the Jaguars believe they are considerably more talented on both sides of the ball in Year 3 of their latest overhaul, but everyone in and around the locker room knows it's time for it to start translating on the field - in more competitive games and victories.
''I would hope so, right?'' Bradley said. ''Our motto is to get better every day, and I think with the influx of talent that we have and free agency, along with the guys that have been here have gotten better, you can feel it on the field. It feels completely different than it was last year.''
Last year was mostly a debacle.
The Jaguars wanted to keep quarterback Blake Bortles on the bench during his rookie season, but the third overall draft pick was thrust into the starting lineup after three woeful games. He struggled most of the season, throwing interceptions, getting sacked and showing his inexperience while playing with as many as six other rookies on that side of the ball.
Bortles has since tweaked his mechanics under new offensive coordinator Greg Olson, but his development remains the key to making the team more competitive in the AFC South.
''It's hard because you want to be successful and you want it now,'' Bortles said. ''There are times where it's frustrating because you want to be good now, but that's not the goal. We want to be good in early September when the season comes.''
As Jacksonville gets ready to open camp, here are some things to know about the team:
DISTRESSED D-LINE: The Jaguars will be without rookie defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. for the season after the third overall draft pick tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the first day of a rookie minicamp in May. Losing Fowler weakened an already-thin unit, which has defensive tackles Roy Miller and Sen'Derrick Marks also recovering from knee surgery. Miller was healthy enough to work some during organized team activities, but Marks has not been cleared to practice and remains a question mark heading into camp.
FREE-AGENT FRENZY: Jacksonville was one of the most active teams in free agency, committing $175 million - including $78 million guaranteed - to six free agents expected to be immediate starters. The Jaguars wanted to spend more, but lost out on receiver Randall Cobb, safety Devin McCourty and running back DeMarco Murray. They landed tight end Julius Thomas, defensive end Jared Odrick, right tackle Jermey Parnell, cornerback Davon House, linebacker Dan Skuta and safety Sergio Brown. Thomas and Odrick are proven starters. Parnell, House, Skuta and Brown were part-time players who are now getting paid to take on bigger roles.
HEALTHY RECEIVERS: Second-year receivers Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee will open camp on the field - a welcome sight for the Jaguars. Both second-round draft picks in 2014, Robinson and Lee missed considerable time last season because of injuries. Their health is vital to making a young offense more productive without former starters Cecil Shorts III and Ace Sanders.
JUNIOR JUMP? Two third-year players - left tackle Luke Joeckel and safety Johnathan Cyprien - need to make significant jumps or they probably won't re-sign with Jacksonville. Joeckle, the second overall pick in 2013 who missed most of his rookie year with a broken right ankle, was average at best in 16 starts last season. Cyprien, a second-round pick, has just two forced fumbles and one interception in 30 starts.
WOE LINE: One of the team's biggest offseason upgrades happened along the offensive line, a unit that contributed to a franchise-record 71 sacks in 2014. Jacksonville signed free agent right tackle Jermey Parnell to a five-year, $32 million contract, drafted South Carolina guard A.J. Cann in the third round and signed veteran center/guard Stefan Wisniewski.
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