1. The Jags defense starts the season on FIRE!
It didn't take long for Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley's plan to rebuild the defense around veteran free agents up front to take effect. In the first half in Philadelphia on Opening Day the Jaguars produced sacks from Chris Clemons, Sen'Derrick Marks and Andre Branch. Clemons and Branch each forced fumbles and the Jaguars turned those turnovers into a 17-0 lead. Clearly the strategy was to give the offense more opportunities on shorter fields as that side of the ball evolved.
2. The Jags offense doesn't start on fire and doesn't catch fire in 2014
What was also readily apparent in Philadelphia on Opening Day was how ineffective the Jaguars offense was going to be with so many new players. They took advantage of the short fields and Chad Henne was sharp, but, they couldn't move the ball and help the defense when the Eagles got their act together at halftime. The Jaguars punted on 6 consecutive drives to open the 3rd quarter, the first four were 3 plays and out. That gave an explosive Philadelphia offense the chances it needed and they ripped off 34 unanswered points. San Diego, Miami, Indianapolis….pick another game this season and the story was the same even after Blake Bortles made his move into the starting line-up in late September.
3. Blake Bortles enters the starting line-up in Week 3
What did John Oehser say from the moment Blake Bortles was drafted in May? "That it (his move into the line-up) would be the story, until it's not." Down 30-0 at half at home to Indianapolis in the home opener it was clear that the story line was about to change. The crowd roared its' approval all the while understanding that he wasn't going to win the game, but hoping he would show them something, anything that would support their faith in him and the future. He more than did that, putting together two drives for touchdowns and another for a field goal. He also threw 2 interceptions, one returned for a touchdown which would become an obstacle in the weeks ahead. Nevertheless Bortles represented progress or growth or whatever you would call it and for the Jaguars it was an oasis in a desert of sorts for their offense.
4. Denard Robinson arrives on the scene
There was great anticipation of the Jaguars running game in 2014, in large part because of the big money spent on left guard Zane Beadles and running back Toby Gerhart. It failed to show up in large part because of a youthful and inexperienced line and a foot injury suffered by Gerhart on Opening Day in Philadelphia that lingered longer than most observers knew. One other reason for optimism in the ground game in 2014 was the emergence of 2nd year back Denard Robinson who was designated a full time back a year after the offensive weapon experiment. We were left with anticipation and optimism until Robinson broke free for 127 yards and largely powered the Jags offense to its' best day of the season and their first win. He came back with 108 the very next week against a physical Miami defense and proved he wasn't going to be a one game wonder. Over a three game stretch he averaged better than 113 yards per game which prompted General Manager Dave Caldwell to offer that he believed Denard had a very high ceiling for his future.
5. Telvin Smith makes his move
The rookie linebacker from Florida State was a spot player early on but emerged with a bang in the Jaguars first win of the season against Cleveland. Smith produced a sack/forced fumble and an interception that led to the go ahead touchdown and was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week. He just seemed to get better and better every week recovering 2 fumbles in Indianapolis to keep the first half a close game and his sideline tackle of Odell Beckham Jr on the 2 yard line forced the New York Giants to settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown which in turn left open the chance for Blake Bortles to put together his 1st 4th quarter come from behind win. Smith finished the season with 15 tackles in the Jags win over the Titans and 16 tackles in the Jags season ending loss to the Texans. He ended the season with 99 tackles second only to Johnathan Cyprien and started 9 games.