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Pre-Game Recon: What's Stopping The Jaguars From Winning The AFC South?

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Ryan Day of our sister site, Big Cat Country, gives us a preview of the Texans' Week 17 opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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1. Can someone please explain to me how the hell this team didn't win at least 8 games? You've got a highly productive quarterback in Blake Bortles, an extraordinarily talented young receiver in Allen Robinson, a big rookie running back that can handle work between the tackles in T.J. Yeldon, and a very-hyped front seven from the preseason with names like Telvin Smith, Jared Odrick, and Sen'Derrick Marks. In terms of pure talent, Jacksonville might be the most exciting team in the whole division, so what gives?

Short answer: Gus Bradley. Long answer: Gus Bradley and our defense.

The offense is historically good and the defense is historically bad. We took that approach to this rebuild on purpose, drafting twice as many offensive players in Rounds 1-3 of the last three drafts. The thought was that Bradley could do more with less on the defensive side of the ball and needed more help on offense. Yet, here we are, with a worse defense than when Bradley started in 2013. In-game coaching decisions, personnel decisions, and bad schemes that didn't fit the players he had on defense also didn't help.

Going forward, it's AFC South title or bust in 2016... and I think that even with a strong free agency and another year for a talented core, the year is going to end somewhere around 7-9 or 8-8 and Bradley is fired.

2. I mentioned the talent on the front seven, but it seems like the secondary has dropped the ball (both figuratively and literally) this season. What is a bigger need for this team, cornerback or safety?

Safety. Bradley's defensive scheme, while flawed, isn't going anywhere and the free safety is an incredibly important part of it. Also, while I wouldn't say any position group on defense is "good" the safety group is awful.

3. Are you as worried about Chip Kelly potentially going to the Titans as I am?

Not really. I don't think the Titans will hire him, honestly. That team is in need of another major rebuild and I don't see them going outside of a proven head coach. I'm more scared of them getting Hue Jackson.

4. Which loss from this season stings the most? Which victory was the most encouraging?

Well, the victory is easy -- the 51-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts is what will stay with me through the spring. Gus Bradley and offensive coordinator Greg Olson just kept their foot on the pedal and didn't let up.

As far as a loss, the Buccaneers one was the most deflating. We had nearly 10,000 of us traveling to Tampa Bay and we $hit the bed. It wasn't the most lopsided loss, but seeing thousands and thousands of disappointed Jaguars fans leave Raymond James Stadium was pretty demoralizing.

5. 2016 is a huge year for Jacksonville. Injuries not withstanding, should the Jags be the favorite to win the AFC South next year with the impressive amount of young talent they have collected in the last couple of years?

They should, but they won't do it. They might in 2017, but there are just too many holes on defense to do anything next year... and they're at premium positions. Unless our pass rush gets instantly fixed, our free safety comes in, and the whole team is running on all cylinders by Week 1, it's going to be a long year.

A big thank you to Ryan for stopping by. You can check out his and others’ excellent coverage on all things Jaguars over at Big Cat Country.

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