Jacksonville Jaguars: Jordan Todman

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley has seen a different Denard Robinson this offseason.

Not just because the former Michigan standout has gained 15 pounds, either.

Robinson has been around the Jaguars facility for the past few weeks and Bradley says it’s obvious to him that Robinson has a different mindset than when he got to Jacksonville last spring after the Jaguars took him in the fifth round of the draft.

"He is taking a different approach now," Bradley said. "I think he sees it as a tremendous opportunity. He's coming in here and he understands he is a running back, and that's where he's got to get himself ready to go."

The Jaguars drafted Robinson with the intent of making him an "offensive weapon," but that didn’t work out because Robinson had trouble with ball security and surprisingly struggled throwing the ball. The Jaguars moved him to receiver, but that failed, too, again because of his hands. Eventually, Robinson settled at running back.

Robinson rarely saw the field on offense in 2013, carrying the ball just 20 times for 66 yards and misfiring on his only pass attempt. His most infamous play highlighted his biggest weakness: He fumbled at the goal line and the ball rolled through the end zone for a touchback against Buffalo.

Fixing his hands and learning to block are the two issues Robinson needs to fix for 2014, and Bradley believes both can be solved. But if he doesn’t get better with the first, the second will be irrelevant because he won’t get on the field.

"He's aware of it," Bradley said. "When things happen like that in a game, I think it brings great awareness for him. But that's something that he's got to make sure we gain enough trust to put him in those situations."

Robinson’s play on special teams should help with his blocking, Bradley said, because he can transfer some of the fundamentals he learned.

Bradley is intrigued by what Robinson could do as a running back. Robinson left Michigan as the NCAA’s all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback (4,495) and he’s a dynamic open-field runner. But it’s unclear where Robinson fits in the backfield rotation. The team signed Toby Gerhart last month to be the No. 1 back. Jordan Todman was the Jaguars’ second-leading rusher last season (256 yards) and ran for 109 yards in his only start.

That doesn’t leave much opportunity for Robinson, especially if he continues to have issues with his hands, but Bradley says Robinson could eventually develop into a first- and second-down back.

Jacksonville Jaguars mailbag

March, 29, 2014
Mar 29
Got questions about the Jacksonville Jaguars? I'll try to answer a representative selection of them every Saturday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.


Jaguars chat wrap

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
1JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Here's a sampling of some of the questions from the weekly Jacksonville Jaguars chat.

You can find the full transcript here.

Len Barker (Cleveland): Is Gerhart an admission that [David] Caldwell whiffed on Justin Forsett?

DiRocco: Justin Forsett got hurt and then fell behind Jordan Todman, who really came on. So, yeah, it was a bit of a whiff on Forsett. But it was more that the team needed a No. 1 back and Forsett wasn't going to be that guy even if he was healthy.

Bruce Benedict (Atlanta): Why is there a $25K work out clause in Red Bryant's contract? If you have to pay a guy to work out in the offseason, he can't be very motivated. Horrible signing.

DiRocco: Most every contract includes that. It's just a little incentive to make sure guys come to the "voluntary" workouts. Plus, it's a way to squeeze in extra cash in a contract.

Jay Williams (Durham, N.C.): Please sell me on the re-signing of Chad Henne. With guys like Schaub, Vick and The Sanchize available for next to nothing, why didn't we go that direction?

DiRocco: You really would rather have Mark Sanchez than Chad Henne? That's hard to believe. And the team that ends up with Matt Schaub in the trade the Texans are trying to swing [Oakland] is on the hook for $11 million. That's crazy. Michael Vick is nearly 35 and he's an injury risk getting out of the shower. Henne was the smart choice there.

Scott McGregor (Baltimore): What kind of identity is [Gus] Bradley trying to build with the D? To me, the FA signings seem random and ill-conceived. Thanks for doing these chats.

DiRocco: Well, they beefed up the run-stopping DE spot with Red Bryant (over Tyson Alualu). They added a speed rusher in Chris Clemons, which they haven't had in years, and added a young linebacker who can play strongside linebacker and leo. They got better at each spot so I'm not sure why you feel they're ill-conceived.

Gus Williams (Seattle): I saw the team-friendly deal that Ben Tate signed in Cleveland and the fact that LeGarrette Blount and MJD are still on the market. Do you think the Jags have any buyer's remorse on Toby Gerhart?

DiRocco: No. He's a young RB with low mileage (276 carries) and no injury history. It was a solid signing.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Toby Gerhart is exactly what the Jaguars were looking for in a running back.

He’s young, turning 27 years old later this month.

He’s got low mileage, with only 374 touches (276 carries, 77 catches, 21 returns) in five seasons with Minnesota.

And he’s durable, missing just three games in his career and only two in the past three.

At 6-foot and 231 pounds, Gerhart is a physical, between-the-tackles runner who can give the Jaguars positive yardage on first down. That’s where the running game was particularly ineffective, averaging just 3.4 yards per rush on first down. That was the third-lowest total in the league.

Gerhart averages 4.7 yards per carry in his career and averaged a career-high 7.9 yards per rush in 2013 working behind Adrian Peterson. He has rushed for 1,305 yards and five touchdowns on 266 carries and has never had more than 109 carries in a single season.

He’s not necessarily a workhorse back, although that’s what he was at Stanford, but he’ll be the main part of a rotation that includes second-year backs Jordan Todman and Denard Robinson and fourth-year back Delone Carter.

The addition of Gerhart, who according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport agreed to a three-year deal with $10.5 million ($4.5 million guaranteed), doesn’t necessarily close the door on Maurice Jones-Drew’s return. The team is still interested in bringing him back, but it obviously would be in a role in which he gets significantly fewer carries than he has since he became the team’s feature back in 2009.

Since then he’s had at least 234 carries in all but one season (he had 86 before missing the final 10 games in 2012) and has had 299 or more three times.

Jones-Drew shared carries with Fred Taylor during his first three seasons so it’s not a situation he’s unfamiliar with, but his return would depend on whether he’d be willing to do it again. Jones-Drew also is seeking at least a three-year contract and that’s something the Jaguars may be hesitant to do.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have released running back Justin Forsett after one disappointing season.

With only three backs now on the roster -- and only one with more than 100 career carries -- and the doubtful return of Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars are almost assuredly going to try and add a No. 1 back in free agency and/or the draft.

When Forsett signed to be Jones-Drew's backup last March, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said he envisioned a bigger role for Forsett, but a pair of injuries derailed that. Forsett suffered a sprained toe on his right foot on Aug. 1 in the first live practice period of training camp and missed the rest of camp and all of preseason. Meanwhile, first-year back Jordan Todman led the team in rushing in the preseason (223 yards) and earned a bigger role on offense.

Fifth-round pick Denard Robinson eventually landed at running back after a stint at wide receiver and also was worked into the rotation.

Forsett carried the ball just six times for 31 yards and caught 15 passes for 82 yards before suffering a broken bone in his foot against Houston on Nov. 24. He has rushed for 1,692 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 115 passes for 850 yards and one touchdown in his six-year career with Seattle, Indianapolis, Houston and Jacksonville.

The most experienced back remaining on the roster is Delone Carter, whom the team signed on Dec. 9. He did not appear in a game for the Jaguars but had 133 carries for 499 yards and five touchdowns in his first two seasons with Indianapolis.

Todman ran for 256 yards and two touchdowns in his first season, including 109 yards on 25 carries against Buffalo in his first start in place of the injured Jones-Drew. Robinson has just 66 yards on 20 carries.

The free-agent market for running backs is pretty solid, with Ben Tate topping the list. Other players available include James Starks, LeGarrette Blount, Knowshon Moreno, Anthony Dixon and Darren McFadden. The Jaguars may add one free agent, most likely a young back, and also are likely to draft one in the middle rounds in May.

Free-agency series: Running backs

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
Here is the second of a 10-part series breaking down the Jaguars’ free-agency needs, position by position:

Running backs

Who’s on the roster: Delone Carter, Shaun Chapas (FB), Justin Forsett, Maurice Jones-Drew, Denard Robinson, Jordan Todman and Will Ta'ufo'ou (FB).

Analysis: Jones-Drew becomes an unrestricted free agent next month, but every other player is under contract through at least 2014. Jones-Drew fought through ankle, hamstring and knee issues to rush for 803 yards and five touchdowns. The running game, though, never really got going until the 11th game of the season. The Jaguars ran for at least 112 yards in games 11-14 but things dropped off the table after that: 105 yards in the last two games combined. Part of the yearlong issue was due to the offensive line’s struggles, but the fact that the Jaguars rarely made any explosive plays in the run game was a big factor as well. The Jaguars had just four runs of 30 or more yards all season. Todman was solid as Jones-Drew’s backup and ran for 109 yards in his only start, but he’s not a featured back. Forsett was hurt in camp and never found his fit in the offense and likely will be released. Robinson never had a defined role until settling in at running back midway through the season and he has had ball-security issues. Carter and Chapas (practice squad) were signed late in the season.

NFL free agents of interest: Ben Tate, Darren McFadden, Knowshon Moreno, James Starks, Anthony Dixon and LeGarrette Blount.

Need meter: 7. If Jones-Drew does not re-sign with the Jaguars -- and right now it appears he won’t -- the team needs to sign a replacement via free agency. There are a lot of affordable options on the market because of the number of players available. Tate tops the list and should be the Jaguars’ top target at this position, but if they’re looking for a cheaper option then Starks, who has been a featured back in spurts with Green Bay, could be an option. Robinson is an intriguing player on the roster, though, because the staff is having him bulk up a bit to handle the pounding of playing running back. If he can solve his fumbling problems, he could be a surprise. Expect the team to draft at least one back as well.
With the NFL combine starting Wednesday, here's a look at the Jacksonville Jaguars' positions of need on offense and which prospects the team might be looking to take a closer look at in Indianapolis. Positions of need are listed in order of importance. A look at the defense comes Tuesday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars have a lot of holes to fill on the roster and the next part in the process comes this week when general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley evaluate, watch and interview prospects at the NFL combine.

Here's a breakdown of what the Jaguars need, in order, on offense and some potential targets:

Quarterback: There's no question this is the Jaguars' top need, although pass-rusher is only slightly behind. Caldwell wants to re-sign Chad Henne before free agency begins next month, but Henne is a bridge player or someone who can mentor a young quarterback and begin the season as the starter if the rookie isn't ready. The Jaguars haven't completely given up on Blaine Gabbert, either, but he's entering the final year of his contract and it would be surprising if he were re-signed after 2014.

Potential targets: Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr, Aaron Murray.

Interior offensive line: The Jaguars have to find a center to replace the retired Brad Meester and a left guard to upgrade from Will Rackley. The Jaguars will address this area in free agency as well but the team also wants to add some young talent. The Jaguars appear set at both tackles (Luke Joeckel and Austin Pasztor) and right guard Uche Nwaneri has two more years remaining on his contract. He's scheduled to make $4.775 million in each year, though, and could be a cap casualty after 2014. Mike Brewster and Jacques McClendon can play guard and center but neither appears, now anyway, to be the long-term answer. It wouldn't be surprising if the team took an interior offensive lineman in the third round, especially if the Jaguars took a quarterback earlier.

Potential targets: G Gabe Jackson, G David Yankey, G Brandon Thomas, C Marcus Martin, C Weston Richburg, C Russell Bodine.

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Stephen Morton/AP PhotoThe Jaguars need to find a feature back in the event they do not re-sign Maurice Jones-Drew.
Running back: The Jaguars are more than likely going to lose Maurice Jones-Drew in free agency, which leaves them with Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson, Delone Carter, and Justin Forsett on the roster. Forsett is likely going to be cut, but even if he's retained none of those players is a feature back. The Jaguars don't need to invest a high pick at this spot because good backs can be found in the later middle rounds.

Potential targets: Lorenzo Taliaferro, Jerick McKinnon, Tre Mason, Lache Seastrunk, Dri Archer, Andre Williams.

Receiver: The Jaguars aren't planning on getting anything from Justin Blackmon in 2014 because they don't yet know his status, which is the correct way to approach his situation. Cecil Shorts is entering a contract year but has yet to stay healthy for a full season. Ace Sanders, Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor, Lamar Thomas, and Stephen Burton are complementary players. The Jaguars need to find a bigger, physical receiver. If they do that in free agency, this area drops to the bottom of the offensive needs list.

Potential targets: Josh Huff, Odell Beckham Jr., Davante Adams.

Tight end: Marcedes Lewis came on strong at the end of the season and he should be a 50-catch player in Jedd Fisch's offense if he stays healthy. After Lewis, though, there isn't much. Clay Harbor is a flex tight end but he's a free agent and the Jaguars will have to decide if they want to re-sign him. Danny Noble is raw and needs more work. The Jaguars want a bigger tight end who can line up next to Lewis in two-tight-end formations.

Potential targets: Marcel Jensen, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Crockett Gilmore, Jake Murphy.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When you have one of the least-talented rosters in the NFL, you’re not going to have much use for any of the franchise tags.

That’s the situation the Jaguars are in right now.

The team does have two notable impending free agents -- running back Maurice Jones-Drew and quarterback Chad Henne -- and neither will be given the franchise or transitional tag on Monday, the first day that teams can use those designations.

General manager David Caldwell has said several times that Jones-Drew has earned the right to test the market though he’s interested in re-signing the running back. By letting him test the market, Caldwell is risking Jones-Drew not giving the Jaguars a chance to match any offer.

Jones-Drew is after the kind of money that Steven Jackson (three years, $12 million, $4 million guaranteed), Reggie Bush (four years, $16 million, $4 million signing bonus) and Shonn Greene (three years, $10 million, $5 million guaranteed) got when they signed free-agent contracts in 2013.

In each case, the teams overpaid for backs past the midpoint of their careers, but teams usually do overpay for players during free agency. Jones-Drew is at the same point in his career. He’ll be 29 in March and he has significant wear and tear on his body: 2,233 touches (rushes, receptions, kick and punt returns) in eight seasons.

In watching him this past season, he clearly did not look similar to the player who led the NFL in rushing in 2011. He wasn’t as explosive through the hole and wasn’t able to get to the edge and turn the corner as well as he has in the past.

There’s no reason for the Jaguars to use even the transitional tag on Jones-Drew. If he doesn’t re-sign -- and he said at the end of the season it was about the money -- the Jaguars will move forward with Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson, a draft pick or two, and possibly a mid-level free-agent signing of their own.

As far as Henne, Caldwell said he expects to reach out to Henne’s representatives soon to try to work out an extension before Henne’s contract expires in March. It would be ludicrous for the Jaguars to use a franchise tag on Henne because he would have to be paid a salary that averages to the top five (exclusive or non-exclusive tag) or the top 10 (transitional tag) paid QBs in the league.
Each day for the next two weeks we’ll review how each position group performed in 2013, and take an early look at 2014. Today we’ll examine the running backs. We did quarterbacks on Monday, and we will do tight ends on Wednesday.

Running back

Breakdown of starts: Maurice Jones-Drew (15), Jordan Todman (1).

Recap: Jones-Drew led the Jaguars in rushing for the sixth consecutive season with 803 yards, but his 3.4 yards per carry average was the lowest single-season total of his career and more than a yard shy of his career average (4.6). The offensive line's struggle to adjust to a zone-blocking scheme, and Jones-Drew being less than a year removed from Lisfranc surgery were contributing factors. He said he wasn’t able to do his normal offseason training routine because he was rehabbing the injury. Jones-Drew also battle knee, ankle and hamstring issues throughout the season.

Jones-Drew clearly wasn’t the player he was when he led the NFL in rushing in 2011, but he was still effective. The biggest difference was his lack of explosiveness. He had just three runs of 30 or more yard this season (30, 44 and 48 yards).

Todman didn’t have much more success than Jones-Drew did statistically -- he also averaged 3.4 yards per carry -- but he matched Jones-Drew’s number of 100-yard games. He ran for 109 yards against Buffalo in his only start of the season. Jones-Drew sat out that game with a hamstring injury.

It was Todman’s emergence this season that kept Justin Forsett from getting on the field much. The Jaguars signed Forsett in March, but he suffered a sprained toe on his right foot on Aug. 1 in the first live practice period of training camp and missed the rest of camp and all of the preseason. Meanwhile, Todman led the team in rushing in the preseason (223 yards) and earned a bigger role on offense.

Forsett ended up with just 21 touches in the first 11 games (he was active but did not play in two games) before fracturing a bone in his foot against Houston on Dec. 5.

Fifth-round draft pick Denard Robinson started the season as an offensive weapon, moved to receiver, and finally settled in at running back in October, but the former Michigan quarterback didn’t get much work (20 carries for 66 yards). He had trouble holding onto the ball.

Looking ahead to 2014

Players under contract: Todman, Forsett, Robinson, Will Ta'ufo'ou (fullback), Delone Carter, Shaun Chapas.

The skinny: The big issue is whether the Jaguars will be able to re-sign Jones-Drew, who becomes a free agent March 17. Jones-Drew said money is a factor, and the Jaguars might not be willing to pay what he wants. However, Jones-Drew might find he’s not going to be able to find what he wants on the open market because teams could be reluctant to pay much for a nearly 30-year-old running back with injury issues the past two seasons.

If the Jaguars do not re-sign Jones-Drew, expect them to address the position either in free agency or the draft. Todman has proven to be a complementary back at this point in his career, but isn’t capable of being a feature back.

Robinson is a bit of a wild card. If he can improve his ball security, he should get more work. He’s got good speed, and is a very good open-field runner. The Jaguars would love to be able to use him as a receiver out of the backfield, but they have to trust his hands, and they’re not close to being able to do that.

Ta’ufo’ou is on the field for roughly a third of the offensive snaps, and coach Gus Bradley said he was pleased with his performance. Carter joined the team in early December and was active for two games. Chapas joined the team in late November, and recently signed a futures contract.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Each week this season I put together a list of the top 10 playmakers from the previous week's game.

Sometimes it wasn't easy, especially in the first half of the season. With the Jaguars going 0-8 I had to dig deep, and twice I had to use mascot Jaxson DeVille for his dramatic pregame entrances.

Thing were much easier in the second half of the season, though. The Jaguars played significantly better and went 4-4.

At the midway point I gave you a list of the top 10 playmakers for the first half of the season. Now that the season is over, here's the final list.

Remember, this isn't a list of the MVP candidates, but a compilation of the players who made the biggest difference this season.

Following each player's name will be three numbers: their final point total, their first-half point total, and second-half point total. Points were assigned to each spot on the weekly list. The No. 1 playmaker each week got 10 points, the No. 2 got nine, the No. 3 got eight, etc.

[+] EnlargePosluszny
AP Photo/Scott A. MillerPaul Posluszny was the Jaguars' best defensive player and arguably their top player overall.
1. LB Paul Posluszny (83 total, 46 first half, 37 second half): It's no surprise that he tops the list. He was the Jaguars' best defensive player all season and you could argue that he was the team's best overall player. His 161 tackles (121 solo) were second in the NFL. He also had three sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

T2. RB Maurice Jones-Drew (77-41-36): It wasn't his best season, but he still was the Jaguars' leading rusher (803 yards) and was the third-leading receiver (43 receptions for 314 yards). He only scored five touchdowns and his 3.4 yards per carry average was the lowest of his career, but he still was the offense's biggest playmaker. He did that despite being less than a year removed from Lisfranc surgery and battling through ankle, knee and hamstring issues.

T2. QB Chad Henne (77-45-32): He finished with 13 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions, but he threw for nine touchdown passes and five interceptions in the last five games. He also threw for 3,241 yards, making him the first Jaguars quarterback to surpass 3,000 yards since David Garrard in 2009. Though he wasn't spectacular, he made a lot of good plays and rarely put the Jaguars in a bad situation.

4. WR Cecil Shorts (57-44-13): He fought through shoulder and groin injuries to catch a team-high 66 passes for 777 yards and three touchdowns. He missed the final three games because the groin injury became too severe for him to play through. For nine of the 13 games he was the team's No. 1 receiver and struggled with that role in the first month but handled it much better after Justin Blackmon's second suspension.

5. K Josh Scobee (46-30-16): He missed only two of his 25 field goal attempts. One was a 60-yarder and the other was blocked. He scored 94 points, which led the team for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons.

6. P Bryan Anger (45-34-11): He was the team's best offensive player in the first month of the season. His gross average was down 2.1 yards from his rookie season but he equaled his rookie mark of 31 punts inside the 20-yard line.

7. TE Marcedes Lewis (41-6-35): A calf injury kept him out for all but two plays in the first six games and he needed time to get used to the offense and figure out his role. Once he got comfortable, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch made him a significant part of the game plan and Lewis caught 16 passes for 242 yards (15.1 yards per catch) and four touchdowns in the last five games.

8. WR Ace Sanders (40-13-27): He was drafted to be the team's punt returner and because of injuries and Blackmon's suspension ended up playing a key role on offense. His 51 receptions for 484 yards were second on the team. For comparison, Shorts caught only two passes as a rookie and Blackmon caught 64.

9. DT Sen'Derrick Marks (37-15-22): He was the Jaguars' best defensive lineman all season and put together a career year. He set career highs in sacks (four), passes defensed (eight), forced fumbles (two) and fumble recoveries (three) in 2013. He had three sacks, eight passes defensed, three forced fumbles and no fumble recoveries in his first four seasons with Tennessee. He was rewarded with a four-year contract extension last month.

10. WR Justin Blackmon (34-0-34): He played in just four games but he was the Jaguars' best offensive player in those four. He caught 29 passes for 446 yards and one touchdown. His 29 receptions are fifth on the team and the 415 yards are fourth. He will be eligible to apply for reinstatement before the 2014 season begins.

Here are the players who finished 11th-20th:

11. RB/KR Jordan Todman (32-5-27): He finished as the Jaguars' second-leading rusher (256 yards) but made his biggest mark as a kickoff returner. His 27.4 yards per return average was seventh in the NFL. He proved he could be a complementary back as well, rushing for 109 yards against Buffalo when Jones-Drew sat out with a hamstring injury.

12. S Johnathan Cyprien (31-23-9): He finished second on the team with 104 tackles and progressively improved throughout the season.

13. LB Geno Hayes (29-6-23): Played through a knee injury all season and finished third with 78 tackles and two interceptions.

14. WR Mike Brown (26-26-0): He missed four games with a fractured vertebrae but rebounded to finish fourth with 32 catches for 446 yards and two touchdowns.

15. CB Alan Ball (24-3-21): He led the team with 14 pass breakups to go along with 45 tackles and two interceptions.

16. CB Will Blackmon (21-11-10): He was a late-August acquisition who became the leader in the secondary. His strip-sack and return for a touchdown was instrumental in the Jaguars' first victory. He finished with 10 pass breakups, one interception, and 40 tackles.

17. DE Jason Babin (19-6-13): He led the team with 7.5 sacks to go along with 40 tackles.

18. WR Kerry Taylor (18-0-18): He joined the team on Nov. 4 and caught 16 passes for 162 yards in the last three games.

19. LB LaRoy Reynolds (17-0-17): The sight of him assisting on a tackle on a punt return despite losing his helmet will be one of the lasting images of the season.

20. LB J.T. Thomas (15-11-4): He had 17 tackles and a forced fumble. He started the last two games of the season and had seven tackles and a forced fumble against Indianapolis.


Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 29
Preseason Power Ranking: 29

Biggest surprise: When the Jaguars signed defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks to a one-year, $1.5 million contract last April, they thought he’d be a good fit in coach Gus Bradley’s system. Turns out he was a perfect fit. Marks plays the three-technique, which means he lines up on the guard’s outside shoulder, and that position is supposed to provide interior pass rush. Marks finished with four sacks, nine quarterback pressures and eight pass breakups -- all numbers that equaled or surpassed the totals from his first four seasons. He seemed to make at least one impactful play every game and he accounted for two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. His play earned him a four-year contract extension as one of the building blocks of the defense.

Biggest disappointment: The Jaguars’ inability to consistently run the ball, especially early in the season, was vexing. The Jaguars switched from a predominantly man-blocking scheme to a zone-blocking scheme, and the offensive line had trouble with the transition. Four of the five starters at the beginning of the season also started in 2011, when Maurice Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing. The Jaguars mixed in more man-blocking schemes as the season progressed and things got better, but the problem wasn’t “fixed.” In addition, Jones-Drew clearly was not the same player he was two years ago. He missed all but six games last season with a Lisfranc injury and also battled ankle, knee and hamstring issues this season.

Biggest need: The Jaguars have a pretty long list of needs, but two stand out above all others: quarterback and pass-rusher. Quarterback is the top need because former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert isn’t the answer and neither is Chad Henne, who will be a free agent but wants to return to Jacksonville in 2014. The Jaguars haven’t had a bona fide threat at quarterback since coach Jack Del Rio put Mark Brunell on the bench for Byron Leftwich in 2003. New general manager David Caldwell and Bradley need a player around which to build the franchise, and the Jaguars will have the opportunity to possibly find one when they pick third overall in May’s draft.

Team MVP: The first impulse is to go with middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, whose 161 tackles ranked second in the NFL. He was clearly the team’s best defensive player and arguably the best overall player. However, what Henne did to stabilize the offense earns him MVP honors. Gabbert had played terribly in the first part of the season (seven INTs, one TD) and Henne stepped in and played the most consistent football of his career. He didn’t always light it up and he made some poor decisions and mistakes, but he kept the Jaguars in games in the second half of the season and made enough plays to go 4-4 after the bye. He threw nine touchdown passes -- including the game winner against Cleveland with 40 seconds to play -- and five interceptions over the final five games.

NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

The Jaguars may not have had anyone voted to the Pro Bowl, but the team is pretty well represented on the All-AFC South team.

Linebacker Paul Posluszny, defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, linebacker Geno Hayes, kicker Josh Scobee, and kick returner Jordan Todman made the team, which was chosen by the reporters covering the four teams.

Posluszny finished second in the NFL with 161 tackles (Cincinnati’s Vontaze Burfict had 171) to go along with 3 sacks, 10 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, 6 quarterback pressures and 2 interceptions. He clearly was the Jaguars’ best defensive player and arguably was the team’s best overall player.

He was the lone Jaguars player who should have earned Pro Bowl honors, but he was hurt by playing for a small-market team that finished 4-12.

Marks posted a career year in his first season with the Jaguars, making 34 tackles, breaking up eight passes, forcing two fumbles, and recovering three fumbles to go along with four sacks and nine quarterback pressures. He had 3 sacks, 8 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles and no fumble recoveries in his first four seasons with Tennessee.

The team was so pleased with his performance that last week they signed him to a four-year contract extension reportedly worth up to $22 million.

Hayes played through a right knee injury much of the season and made 78 tackles, intercepted one pass, and broke up three others. The injury got progressively worse but he missed just one game, the season finale against Indianapolis, and will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage damage and remove some loose particles in his knee.

Scobee made 23 of 25 field goal attempts this season. His only miss came from 60 yards and he had a 49-yard attempt blocked. Scobee was 15-for-15 from 39 yards and in. Todman averaged 27.4 yards per kickoff return, seventh-best in the NFL. That was the best mark in the division. Houston’s Keshawn Martin finished eighth in the league (26.3 yards per return.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Offensive snaps for Jaguars skill-position players in Sunday’s 30-10 loss to Indianapolis, while analyzing what it means:

QB Chad Henne: 70 of 70

WR Kerry Taylor: 67 of 70

WR Mike Brown: 63 of 70

TE Marcedes Lewis: 60 of 70

WR Ace Sanders: 48 of 70

RB Maurice Jones-Drew: 46 of 70

FB Will Ta'ufo'ou: 22 of 70

RB Jordan Todman: 22 of 70

TE Danny Noble: 11 of 70

WR Lamaar Thomas: 6 of 70

TE Clay Harbor: 4 of 70

WR Denard Robinson: 1 of 70

Analysis: Todman’s playing time has decreased noticeably the past two weeks with the return of a somewhat healthy Jones-Drew. He went from 65 snaps as a starter against Buffalo to 28 snaps against Tennessee and 22 against the Colts. He touched the ball only three times against Indianapolis: two runs for 3 yards and one catch for 12 yards. ... Taylor has caught 16 passes in the final three games, emerging as the go-to receiver in place of Cecil Shorts (IR). He has played in 92 percent of the snaps in that span (187-of-203). ... Robinson played just one snap in each of the final two games after playing nine against Buffalo. That was the game in which he fumbled the ball through the end zone for a touchback.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It’s obvious that the Jacksonville Jaguars made significant progress in the second half of the 2013 season.

But it is just as obvious that they still have a long way to go to be competitive in the AFC South.

It was painfully evident in Sunday’s 30-10 loss at Indianapolis. The Jaguars were not dominated as much as they were in a 37-3 loss to the Colts in Jacksonville in Week 4, but it was ugly, especially early. They were down 17-0 and the game was essentially over after the first quarter.

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
AP Photo/AJ MastMaurice Jones-Drew fumbled on the Jaguars' first drive, setting up Indianapolis for a touchdown.
"I just didn’t think that we executed very well today," coach Gus Bradley said. "We missed some opportunities, we missed some reads, we missed some wild combinations, we missed tackles, some assignments. I don’t want to make it sound like it was just a complete disaster. It wasn’t. But it wasn’t up to our standard. It wasn’t the consistency that we’re looking for."

It’s going to take a lot more than just another draft and a couple of free-agent signings before they can compete with the Colts, who are clearly the class of the division. Granted, the Jaguars have been banged-up in the final month -- especially on defense, where they were without four starters -- but so are the Colts. They were missing 15 players who were placed on IR this season, including receiver Reggie Wayne. That means injuries cannot be used to explain away Sunday’s rout.

Jaguars general manager David Caldwell and Bradley have gotten off to a good start in revamping the roster, but there are still major holes to fill. There are some building blocks in place on defense, especially in the secondary with safety Johnathan Cyprien and Dwayne Gratz. Defensive tackles Sen’Derrick Marks and Roy Miller and middle linebacker Paul Posluszny give the Jaguars a solid foundation up the middle, too. But the Jaguars have to add a pass-rusher, find another cornerback and get help at outside linebacker.

It’s on offense where more work needs to be done, though. Rookie left tackle Luke Joeckel showed promise before he suffered a fractured ankle in Week 5 and was lost for the season, but he still has to prove himself capable of being an elite player. The staff likes right tackle Austin Pasztor, but is he the answer there?

The interior of the offensive line needs an upgrade, too, especially at center now that Brad Meester has retired.

But it’s at the skill positions where the Jaguars really need work, starting at quarterback. Chad Henne had a solid season as a starter, and his 331 yards passing against the Colts made him the first Jaguars quarterback to surpass 3,000 yards since David Garrard in 2009. Henne’s a caretaker, not a franchise quarterback, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be back next year anyway because he’s an unrestricted free agent. Even if he re-signs, the Jaguars have to address that position in the draft.

The situation at running back also is unclear because of Maurice Jones-Drew’s situation. His contract is set to expire, and while he says he wants to return, it’s likely that he wants to test the free-agent market to see what kind of offers he can generate. Jordan Todman has proven capable of being a complementary back but not a feature back.

The Jaguars have a solid No. 2 receiver in Cecil Shorts, who missed the last three games because of a groin injury, but no No. 1 with Justin Blackmon suspended indefinitely for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Ace Sanders, Mike Brown and Kerry Taylor (eight catches, 75 yards, one TD against the Colts) are complementary pieces.

The Jaguars need to find a big-play -- and big -- receiver. Only one receiver who has a catch this season is taller than 6-foot, and he’s now on IR (the 6-1 Stephen Burton).

That sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but the task ahead shouldn’t overshadow the work that has already been done. The Jaguars (4-12) are a better team now than they were in September, especially when it comes to the culture in the locker room and around the facility.

"There was growth," Bradley said. "I feel like we competed the whole way through. Sometimes you have those days where it doesn’t go exactly how you had hoped, and we’ll learn from it. I asked the team to reflect on everything that we had done this year, and I think some tremendous growth has taken place. I give credit to our team and that our whole objective was to create a new standard, a new standard of excellence and they helped in that, what’s acceptable.

"We’ll take this season, we’ll grow from it and we’ll add to it."

Jaguars get bad gifts, too

December, 25, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Sometime today, somebody in your family -- maybe even you -- will open a gift from someone, and have to use every bit of restraint available to keep from saying, "What the heck?!"

Instead, you’ll force a smile and say thanks.

It happens every year at Christmas. Someone gets a terrible gift. We’ve all gotten them at one point or another. Jaguars players are no different.

Several players spent time Tuesday trying to remember the worst Christmas gift they’ve ever received. It didn’t take long to find a winner in that contest, if you can consider that “winning.”

Guard Drew Nowak got a sweater. (Ugh, nobody wants a sweater.)

It was wool. (Ooo, itchy.)

It was blue, green and yellow. (Bright colors!)

It matched the comforter on his bed. (Creepy.)

From his mom. (Apparently he was being punished).

But the best part?

"This was high school," Nowak said. "And it was a little short on the sleeves, too.

"So, short-sleeved, wool and the same colors."

Well, he did grow up in Green Bay, Wis.

The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Nowak admitted he did wear it once for a picture, which is not likely to ever appear on Facebook.

None of Nowak’s teammates even came close to topping that gift, but they did say they got some -- let’s use the word "unwanted" -- gifts.

Guard Uche Nwaneri actually gets them every year from his mother: polo shirts in unusual colors.

"I wouldn’t say they’re the worst gifts but they’re the gifts that as soon as I see them I know I’m not going to do anything with it and it’s going right in the closet,” he said. “You’re like, ‘Yeah, I’m not wearing this.’ But I will put it in the closet out of respect for my mom. It’ll be in the closet in the back. It’ll have the tag on it. It’s never coming out of the closet."

Burnt orange or salmon are colors he remembered. Not something most guys would purchase for themselves, but it does make one curious to see what a 6-3, 310-pounder looks like in a salmon colored shirt, though.

Receiver Ace Sanders said he got burned by a bad gift during a gift exchange in elementary school. He gambled on box size and was severely disappointed when he unwrapped it.

"I got like a 700-piece puzzle," he said. "I was pissed about that."

You at least put it together, right?

"Nah, man," he said. "I gave it away."

That’s what running back Jordan Todman wanted to do with what he found in his Christmas stocking one year.

"Socks," he said. "Socks and underwear is probably the worst Christmas gift you can give a kid."

Not to defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, though. He already got one of his Christmas gifts from his family: a box of boxers, socks and tank tops. He loved it.

"A lot of people would say that’s terrible but it was great gift to me," he said. "I enjoyed it. I haven’t bought a pair of boxers probably since my first year in the league."

Marks said he appreciates any gift that anyone gets him, but he also said his parents or relatives never gave him terrible gifts as a kid.

"I didn’t get gifts like that," he said. "I never was a fashion guy so clothes and stuff like that, I never was a guy that wanted all that. I’m very simple. I’m simple to shop for. That’s what I tell my girl all the time. She’s like, ‘Well I don’t know what to get you.’ Well, how you not know what to get me? You can get me anything. I fish, I golf, I hunt; you can get me anything.

"You can get me a box of golf balls [and] I’m happy as hell. My sister gave me some Auburn head covers. I went and put them on ASAP. You can get me anything. It’s very easy to please me."

Receiver Kerry Taylor and cornerback Mike Harris said they don’t remember getting any terrible gifts as kids. Neither does quarterback Chad Henne, but he did say he and his cousins would get clothes from his grandparents, although he doesn’t count that as a terrible gift.

"You always get the things from your grandparents," Henne said. "We had so many cousins that it was similar stuff but it wasn’t anything back. It was all stuff you could wear, good dress clothes.

"I honestly haven’t had anything [terrible]. My family is pretty good and if there was something my mom must have covered it up and got something else because I don’t remember anything bad."

That beats Nowak, because he’s going to remember that sweater forever.