The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off of a thoroughly disappointing 2018 campaign in which they won just five games, one year after making it all the way to the AFC Championship Game.
As a result, expectations are not all that high for the Jaguars entering 2019, but there is still hope.
For starters, Jacksonville replaced the much-maligned Blake Bortles with Nick Foles under center, and while Foles is still relatively unproven as a starter, he can’ be any worse than Bortles was this past year.
The Jags also still have a good defense, and even if it isn’t as dominant as it was in 2017, it remains stout.
So, here are the three Jaguars players who are under the most pressure going into this season.
3. Jalen Ramsey
Jalen Ramsey has made a whole lot of noise this offseason about his contract, even going as far to show up to training camp in an armored bank truck.
Ramsey said afterward it was all in good fun, but the message was clear: pay me.
The 24-year-old still has two years remaining on his deal, but he already seems to be looking forward to free agency after the 2020 campaign, so the pressure is certainly on to continue performing at a high level.
While Ramsey was still really good in 2018, he was not nearly as impressive as he was in 2017, so if he really wants that new deal from the Jaguars or an eventual monster contract from someone else, it would behoove him to start trending in a positive direction in 2019.
2. Leonard Fournette
Leonard Fournette had a very productive rookie season, rushing for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns. However, a deeper look into his numbers showed that he was more about volume than efficiency, as he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry.
Well, in 2018, he wasn’t about either one, as he totaled just 439 yards and five scores while registering a meager 3.3 yards per attempt.
Now, to be fair, Fournette was limited to just eight games due to injuries, but even he was on the field, he looked awful, appearing slow and out of shape, which drew the ire of Tom Coughlin at the end of the season.
There was even a point in 2018 where some wondered whether or not Jacksonville would even bring Fournette back for another season, but the Jags decided to give him another chance.
It is fair to question, though, if this will be Fournette’s last chance with the Jaguars.
1. Nick Foles
Look, I get it: Foles is a Philly legend. He led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title ever. He will never have to buy another beer in Philadelphia ever again. His three playoff games in January and February of 2018 instantly elevated him above Donovan McNabb.
All of that is well and good, but the fact of the matter is that Foles is still very unproven as a starting quarterback.
The man has never played a full season under center. Actually, the most games he has ever started during a single year is 11, and that came during a disastrous 2015 campaign with the St. Louis Rams.
Taking it a step further, Foles has started just nine games over the past three years, and he has not thrown 10 touchdown passes in one season since 2014.
Can you see where I’m going with this?
We really have no idea how Foles will fare as a permanent starter, and due to his lack of a track record, he may not have an incredibly long leash if he struggles.
The Jaguars are expecting instant improvement at the quarterback position, and none of us honestly have any clue if that will seriously happen. Again, Foles probably can’t be any worse than 2018 Bortles, but still, we don’t know what to expect.