Junior M.A.F.I.A. was a group that basically brought on through the strength of Notorious B.I.G. The group, which helped launch the career of Lil' Kim, dropped their debut album back in 1995 called Conspiracy. On that album was one hit called "Player's Anthem", which would peak at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. But "Player's Anthem" was not the only hit song from that album. "Get Money" was also released off that album. And with the help of B.I.G. on the track, the song rose to number 17 at its peak on the Billboard Hot 100. Getting money is the thing for a lot of free agents this offseason and one place has been giving out money the last two seasons like it was nothing. That place is Jacksonville and the Jaguars have not disappointed so far this offseason. The Jaguars have reached out and agreed to deals with former Cowboys safety Barry Church, former Houston Texans cornerback AJ Bouye and former Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell. Campbell reportedly agreed to a four-year, $60 million deal, Church reportedly agreed to a four-year, $24 million deal and Bouye reportedly agreed to a five-year, $67.5 million deal. While reports are that Bouye has $26 million guaranteed in his deal and Campbell has $30 million guaranteed in his, there have not been any confirmations as to the guarantees for Church's deal. But even without the guaranteed money known in Church's deal, that is a lot of money thrown around for that team.
With the signings of these top-flight free agents, it is expected that the Jaguars will be better. But then again, have we not heard this before? Last offseason, the Jaguars spent some serious coin. They went and signed defensive tackle Malik Jackson, running back Chris Ivory and others last offseason and that was expected to help take them to the next level. But the Jaguars were still the Jaguars, losing games left and right and helping to get their coach fired. Well this season, there is a new tone with the team. The guy who helped lead this team to their most success, Tom Coughlin, has joined the organization, overseeing it from the executive vice president seat, and we all know that he does not take any nonsense. With what this team had last season, there is no way they should have been that bad. Along with being bad, they were undisciplined and that will not be tolerated under Coughlin and his regime. With these new pieces, a defense that underachieved should be better. Bouye will be a welcomed addition and will give the Jags two good corners now instead of one. Campbell brings leadership and productivity all in one and he will also be a guy that Coughlin and head coach Doug Marrone lean on to guide this team in the leadership catergory. As far as Church, he is a big safety that can lay the wood and can cover. His presence and hustle on the field will be a welcomed addition. But even with all these additions on the defensive side of the ball, it all does not matter without better play at one position on the offensive side of the ball.
Last season, there were big things expected out of quarterback Blake Bortles. He had put up good numbers and with Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson along with tight ends Mercedes Lewis and Julius Thomas, there were big things expected from this offense. But what was expected and what actually happened was not the same. Bortles was all over the place offensively. He was missing wide-open receivers, taking sacks at inopportune times and missing reads with regularity. The result of all of that was Bortles throwing twelve less touchdown passes than he did the previous year with almost the same amount of interceptions. This offseason, the Jaguars had the chance to exercise an option on Bortles contract this offseason but have not made the decision to do so. The reason why they have not is because of his steep decline from 2015 to 2016. Sure, some of the issues with him running around and throwing interceptions is because he did not have time in the pocket. But not all of that can be put on the offensive line at all. So with more money put into the team, this is a make-or-break year for Bortles should he be kept there in Jacksonville. The defense will be better with more veterans on that side of the ball. The offensive line will more than likely be better and the weapons are there for Bortles to succeed. All they need is better quarterback play. But will it happen or not is the question.
Bortles has the talent and the ability to get the job done. But at this point, he reminds the many more of Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville than the guy he was compared to coming out of college: Ben Roethlisberger. Bortles is entering crunch time of his career at this point. If he wants to be a starter anymore after this season, he had better get it going on the field this season if he is given the opportunity to start. If he falters, Marrone probably won't hesitate to go to backup Chad Henne and if that happens, Bortles may as well start packing his bags to leave town. All the defensive upgrades are great for Jacksonville, but they mean nothing without good quarterback play. Yeah, they paid for some good defenders, but can they get some good quarterback play to help score points and make them a winner? We shall indeed see when the 2017 NFL season rolls around.