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Are The 2017 Jaguars The Next 1986 Bears Or 2009 Jets?

The Jacksonville Jaguars currently lead the NFL in three categories that correlate strongly with winning: rushing yards, Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt Allowed, and points allowed. It’s pretty freakin’ rare for a team to lead the NFL in all three of those categories; since 1950, it’s only happened six times.

In 2009, the Mark Sanchez/Thomas Jones/Darrelle Revis Jets pulled off that feat. New York ranked 27th in ANY/A and underachieved significantly relative to its Pythagorean record. The Jets snuck into the playoffs but then lost in the AFC Championship Game.

In 1985 and 1986, the Chicago Bears did it in consecutive years. We all know about the 15-1 team from 1985, and Jim McMahon and the offense ranked 6th in ANY/A and won the Super Bowl. In ’86, the Bears ranked 17th in ANY/A, McMahon was injured, and Doug Flutie was the quarterback in the team’s lone playoff game, a home loss to Washington where the team did take a 13-7 lead into the locker room.

In 1972, the Dolphins led the NFL in a host of categories, including that 14-0 regular season record. And while Miami led the NFL in rushing yards, ANY/A allowed, and points allowed, but also in ANY/A.

In 1969, the AFL’s Chiefs pulled off the trick and ranked 4th in ANY/A in the 10-team AFL. Like the ’72 Dolphins and ’85 Bears, this team won the Super Bowl.

In 1962, the Packers — you know, maybe the greatest team of all-time — were the first team since the 1949 Eagles to lead the NFL in ANY/A allowed, points allowed, and rushing. The Packers, of course, won it all, too.

Nobody is going to confuse Blake Bortles with Bart Starr, Len Dawson, or Bob Griese, or even Jim McMahon or Earl Morrall. But can Bortles be Mark Sanchez good, or just a little bit better? The Jaguars currently rank 17th in ANY/A and Bortles ranks 17th in Total QBR. So how have previous Jaguars-esque teams fared?

The table below shows all teams that meet the following criteria:

  • The sum of the team’s ranks in Rushing Yards, ANY/A Allowed, and Points Allowed was 15 or less. The Jaguars, of course, get a 3 in this category, but any team that averages 5 or fewer probably qualifies as similar to Jacksonville.
  • The team ranked outside of the top 12 in offensive ANY/A. In other words, this was a team that was built on its defense and running game, not its passing attack.
  • Two of the 38 teams since 1970 to meet those criteria — the 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers, quarterbacked by a still green Terry Bradshaw, and the 2000 Ravens with Trent Dilfer — won the Super Bowl.

    TeamYearRush Yd RkANY/A All RkPts All RkSumOff ANY/A RkWin%Playoffs
    KAN201563312130.6881-1
    CHI2012101314250.625miss
    NYJ20091113270.5632-1
    BAL20084239170.6882-1
    TEN200873212150.8130-1
    SDG200772514170.6882-1
    JAX200634411140.500miss
    CHI200581110310.6880-1
    BAL20031269290.6250-1
    MIA200225411190.563miss
    BAL200054110230.7504-0
    NYG199773313240.6560-1
    KAN199758114140.8130-1
    PIT19962248190.6251-1
    KAN19951315150.8130-1
    PHI199225613160.6881-1
    MIN199271715150.6880-1
    PIT199247213140.6880-1
    CHI199022913180.6881-1
    DEN198963110180.6882-1
    PHI198955515170.6880-1
    MIN198971614150.6250-1
    RAM198644412180.6250-1
    CHI19861113170.8750-1
    CHI19841337140.6251-1
    PIT198343714260.6250-1
    BUF198213610270.444miss
    MIA19823126230.7783-1
    PHI19814116140.6250-1
    HOU198027211200.6880-1
    BUF198082313140.6880-1
    TAM197985114190.6251-1
    CHI197953311170.6250-1
    PIT19761618130.7141-1
    OAK197531711140.7861-1
    PIT19742125170.7503-0
    PIT19722226150.7861-1
    BAL19715128190.7141-1

    The 1982 Dolphins with David Woodley are another team that feels similar to Jacksonville, and they made it to the Super Bowl. There’s also another Thomas Jones team on here — the 2005 Bears. The 2010 Jets were similar to the 2009 team, although they miss the cut-offs here. That Jets team had to beat Tom Brady-led Patriots and Ben Roethlisberger-led Steelers squads to make it to the Super Bowl. This year’s Jaguars may have to do the same thing.

    How far do you think the Jaguars will go?

{ 3 comments }
  • sacramento gold miners

    The Jags fit the profile of a team which could surprise in the postseason. Little was expected, and it’s good for them other AFC teams are in the headlines. Jacksonville has already beaten San Diego, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore in the regular season. I am unsure how Bortles and Fournette will play in freezing weather, however.

    • Richie

      Pittsburgh’s comeback against Baltimore last night was brutal for Jacksonville.

      Jacksonville has a good chance to win out, and they would have been one game behind Pittsburgh, with the Steelers having a game against New England. If Baltimore could have hung on, that would have given Jacksonville a good shot at the #2 seed.

      • t.d.

        i mean, the way the pats played, it could be them that the jags are chasing for the #2 seed. either way, the jags absolutely thumped the steelers in pittsburgh (so much so that people were asking roethlesberger whether his heart was still in the game). they remind me of the 2015 broncs more though, with the shaky quarterback situation.