JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Pro Bowl linebacker Telvin Smith believes no expectations are too lofty for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018. Undefeated regular season, as defensive tackle Malik Jackson predicted last week? Sure.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Pro Bowl linebacker Telvin Smith believes no expectations are too lofty for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018.
Undefeated regular season, as defensive tackle Malik Jackson predicted last week? Sure.
Super Bowl or bust, as cornerback A.J. Bouye suggested Tuesday? Absolutely.
"I think you can only set the bar too high when you don't believe it yourself," Smith said Wednesday as the Jaguars reported for training camp. "I think this team is full of confidence, full of talent, full of hard work and dedication. The bar's as high as we set it. It's not where can we go. It's where we want to go, and that's what we're working on right now, making sure that we go where we want to go come February."
The Jaguars are entering the franchise's most anticipated season in decades.
Following a surprising trip to the AFC championship game, which ended with a gut-wrenching loss at New England, the Jaguars are a popular pick to get back to the conference title game.
Even that might not be good enough for these Jaguars.
"I think we're the best team in the league," Smith said. "It's not that I'm knocking anybody. There's some talented teams out there. But if I don't lock in right now and believe wholeheartedly that my team will be the last team standing, ... you're not really ready for the fight that's about to come."
Jacksonville returns 18 of 22 starters, including 10 on one of the league's best defenses. Throw in the addition of All-Pro left guard Andrew Norwell, widely considered the top offensive lineman available in free agency, and the continuity that comes with keeping the entire coaching staff intact and the Jaguars have reason to be hopeful.
"We discuss specific expectations," Marrone said. "I think a lot of times right now that there is always this thought on the future. What is going to happen in the future? It is a ways away now for us. ... I am not really looking too far ahead because I have always believed that if you look too far ahead, you are going to lose the day that you have."
Marrone used a tougher-than-usual camp in 2017 to get players' attention and establish the team's physical identity.
Jacksonville led the league in rushing and ranked near the top in nearly every defensive category. That combination carried the Jags to the AFC title game and helped them build a 20-10 lead against the Pats in the fourth quarter.
But Jacksonville allowed the Pats to convert a third-and-18 play that led to a touchdown and then failed to put New England away on either side of the ball.
Still, the Jaguars walked away feeling good about themselves — and their future.
"We have a lot of high expectations for ourselves," Bouye told the Jim Rome Show. "The Super Bowl is what we really want and we can see how close we were and we're trying to go for it."
Jackson took it a step further.
"I think we're going 16-0," Jackson told TMZ Sports. "I'm callin' it, 16-0. I don't think anybody can beat us as long as we stay healthy and do what we're supposed to do."
Only two teams have gone unbeaten in the regular season: the 1972 Miami Dolphins and the 2007 Patriots. It's a stretch for Jacksonville to even think about it, let alone talk about it, in July.
The again, Jackson was one of the first to mention the Super Bowl last year, saying he saw the potential for a three-win team to make the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. He turned out to be a better prognosticator than Vegas oddsmakers.
"Don't get me wrong; it's great to talk Super Bowl," Smith said. "It's great to talk 16-0, but you don't get to 16-0 without 1-0. We've got to make sure we understand the ultimate goal and don't get outside of getting ready to play these games and make sure we focus on the one that we've got first."
Notes: Jaguars will open camp with DE Dante Fowler (left shoulder), TE David Grinnage (left knee) and rookie OL Brandon Smith (cut) on the Physically Unable to Perform list. ... Assistant OL coach Tony Sparano Jr. will miss the start of camp to be with his family following the death of his father, former NFL head coach Tony Sparano. ... All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey will miss the start of training camp after becoming a new father. Ramsey announced on his Twitter page Wednesday that he plans to remain in Tennessee with his girlfriend, Bre, and newborn daughter, Breelyn, until "I'm comfortable knowing my family is healthy and happy."