The Jacksonville Jaguars are in the midst of one of the most important offseasons in franchise history. New owner Shad Khan has changed the culture in the building. Jack Del Rio and much of the coaching staff from last season are gone. Taking their place is a coaching staff headlined by Mike Mularkey, who has the support of his new mustached owner.
Spirits are high in Jacksonville, but results must follow to keep the fan base energized. Mularkey and his staff are stuck with the task of rebuilding an offense that ranked No. 32 in the NFL in passing yards per game. Blaine Gabbert, the team's first round draft pick in 2011, must show substantial improvement over the offseason, but the Jaguars' front office must also surround him with the weapons to succeed.
It sounds crazy to say, but the Jaguars are not far away from competing for a playoff spot. The pieces are in place on defense, and with a improvement in the passing game, this team could show improvement sooner rather than later. Of course, it all hinges on the development of a certain blonde-haired quarterback.
After the jump, we'll take a look at the team needs for the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason.
Wide Receiver: Blaine Gabbert may have struggled throughout his rookie season, but it would have been tough for any quarterback to succeed with the talent he had around him. Mike Thomas, who signed a contract extension early in the season, struggled to make plays on the ball and run crisp routes all season long. Meanwhile, Marcedes Lewis, who cashed in on a huge contract during the offseason, dropped balls all season long. Other than those two, there is not much talent on the roster at the pass catching positions. The Jaguars would almost be wise to completely start from scratch. I expect them to upgrade the position both through free agency and the draft.
Right Tackle: Guy Whimper was downright awful last season. The Jaguars will get Ebon Britton back next season, but he has had trouble staying on the field during his brief NFL career. Jacksonville needs to find some depth at the position in case Britton doesn't make it through the season. The offensive line is not a weakness, however, despite some perceiving it as such. The group paved the way for Maurice Jones-Drew to win the rushing title and just needs time to come together as a pass blocking unit.
Defensive End: While the Jacksonville Jaguars managed to get more pressure on the quarterback this season, the team needs to continue to bolster the defensive line. Jeremy Mincey, who led the Jags with 8 sacks, is a free agent this offseason, and there is no guarantee that he will re-sign with the team. Beyond Mincey, Jacksonville is relying on an aging Aaron Kampman and a handful of unproven commodities. The 2012 NFL Draft class is thin at defensive end, but Mario Williams could become available in free agency. The Jaguars are a dark horse team to land the talented defensive end.
Cornerback: How pressing an issue cornerback is will depend on which Jaguars decide to re-sign. Rashean Mathis is a free agent and coming off a season-ending knee injury. William Middleton, who filled in nicely, is also a free agent this offseason. In addition, Dwight Lowery, who was dominant at times at free safety, will need a new contract. Each of those players was instrumental to the improvement of the secondary last season. Depending on which of the three come back, additions may need to be made to the secondary.