Mark Brunell: Jaguars have potential, but a lot of 'ifs'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – I get this question often this time every year and get asked about it from fans all around town. 

“How are the Jaguars gonna do?” 

It’s football season. It’s exciting. Fans are optimistic. The Jaguars are on everyone’s minds. 

So, how are the Jaguars going to do this season? Even after Thursday night's 29-0 preseason clunker to Baltimore, I've got the same answer to the question that I had before. 

I have no idea. 

There’s some expert analysis for you. 

Some of you reading this may not like that and I can understand if you don’t. But think of this: Two years ago, we were shocked this team went to the AFC championship game. Last year, we were shocked the team went 5-11. I certainly don’t know everything about the NFL, but what I do know is that it’s hard to predict how a team will do in an upcoming season.

While we didn't see it against the Ravens because the Jaguars held out a combined 32 players (including 19 projected starters) and went with rookie sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew at quarterback, there are certainly reasons for optimism.

There’s a new quarterback in Nick Foles. There are young receivers with potential. There's a healthy offensive line. The defense could be special. The draft class appears solid. Those are all reasons to be hopeful for 2019. 

I really do expect us to do well, and it starts with the quarterback.

While he didn't play in the preseason opener against the Ravens on Thursday night, Foles is an upgrade from last year. He brings experience, leadership, and, of course, a Super Bowl MVP trophy. My concern is the people we have around him. The offense is filled with a lot of “ifs”. 

IF the line stays healthy. IF the young receivers play well. IF a tight end emerges. IF Leonard Fournette figures out how to recapture his rookie season form.

That’s a lot of IFs.

Let’s go to other side of the ball. The defense is expected to be once again very good. I’ve heard that often. I’ve heard it from the experts on TV and I’ve certainly heard from the players as well.

That reminds me of last season at this time. The problem? We heard it last year, too, but didn’t really see it. My hope this season is that we get to see the defense from two years ago. 

Again, lots of questions. But that’s what makes being a fan so fun. You just never know. The NFL is full of surprises. Maybe the 2019 version of the Jaguars surprises us with a Lombardi Trophy. Go Jaguars!

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