The Jacksonville Jaguars made some big moves during the 2015 offseason. All of the sudden, they seem like a team who could contend for a playoff spot in 2016. The Jaguars haven’t made the playoffs since 2007, when they went 11-5. Since then, the Jaguars have hit the .500 mark just once in eight seasons.
However, Jacksonville has plenty of reasons to believe they can truly turn a corner in 2016. Here, we make a few bold predictions for a team that not only has an up-and-coming offense — featuring an elite wide receiver in Allen Robinson — but also has a pretty talented defense thanks to the offseason.
1. Playoff bound, and then some
It doesn’t seem bold enough to project a team as improved as the Jaguars to make the playoffs. What stands out here is the fact that, while the Jaguars improved, the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans should both see significant improvements as well.
This means that if/when the Jaguars do make the postseason, they have to earn their spot. This team has the potential to be the real deal. While we think they make the playoffs as a wild card, don’t be shocked if Blake Bortles is able to lead his team to a first-round victory. The Jaguars will not only make the playoffs for the first time since 2007, but they will also win at least one game.
2. Julius Thomas tops 1,000 yards
It essentially goes without saying that Thomas was more than a bit disappointing in his first season with the Jaguars. While he dealt with his fair share of injuries and just couldn’t seem to get on the same page as Bortles, he will have a nice turnaround season in 2016.
Thomas played in just 12 games last year, totaling 46 receptions for 455 yards and five touchdowns. What’s interesting is that he still saw 79 targets, the second-most in a single season of his career to this point. That’s a pretty telling stat, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see Thomas wind up getting somewhere over 100 targets, which will result in a big year.
Another season to work with Bortles and even more opportunity for Thomas? Sounds like a 1,000-plus-yard season with more than five scores. Let’s not forget that both Robinson and Allen Hurns are there to take pressure off him as well.
3. Allen Robinson leads the NFL in receiving yards
It’s not too bold to make this claim about Robinson, as he’s just a year removed from being tied for the most touchdowns in the NFL. (Julio Jones and Antonio Brown both topped 1,800 yards, which was over 400 more yards than Robinson had last season.)
Basically, Robinson has quite the uphill climb to lead the league in receiving yards. Fortunately, the connection that he and Bortles have clearly improved as last season rolled on. It’s pretty incredible to think that he had just one catch for 27 yards in his first game of 2015.
What really leads us to believe that Robinson will lead the NFL in receiving yards is that he caught just 80 passes last year on 153 targets. This means that he caught just over 50% of the passes that came his way. If he’s able to bump that number up (which he will), it will lead to some pretty scary numbers for the third-year wide receiver.
Expecting him to go tack on some additional yardage and even top 100 receptions may seem like a lot, but don’t be surprised to see it happen. Robinson will be the focal point of Jacksonville’s offense.