The start of the 100th National Football League (NFL) season is upon us. Florida has grown to have three NFL teams with the addition of the Miami Dolphins in 1966, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976, and the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995. Combined these three teams have three Super Bowl World Championships with the Dolphins winning in back-to-back years in 1972 during their perfect 17-0 season and the following 1973 season. The Tampa Bay Bucs won the Super Bowl in 2002 with former head coach Jon Gruden, who left coaching in the NFL for a decade, but returned last year with the Oakland Raiders. While the Jacksonville Jaguars have not made it to the Super Bowl, they have made it to the AFC Championship Game (the final playoff game before the Super Bowl) three times. Where do these Florida NFL teams stand in 2019? Let us share the expectations for the 2019 season.
Where Do the Dolphins Go From Here?
So, what are the expectations for these three teams in 2019? Following another disappointing season under former head coach Adam Gase, the Dolphins fired Gase and brought in a new head coach in Brian Flores, the Patriots defensive coordinator and winner of three Super Bowl titles with the New England Patriots. The plan, though the Dolphins deny this, is to have a really poor performance this season and regress to end up atop the NFL Draft ladder in 2020. This practice is known as “tanking” and has worked for many NFL teams to go from worst to first in many aspects.
Most recently, the Los Angeles Rams are the perfect example going from worst in their division to first and going to the Super Bowl last season. The Miami Dolphins have traded three of their best players in the last three seasons in former first round pick Leremy Tunsil, stud linebacker and fan-favorite Kiko Alonso, and productive wide receiver Kenny Stills for future NFL Draft picks and lesser productive players. These moves have helped the public and the NFL world at large take note the Dolphins are aiming to return to greatness in the 2020s. We believe the Dolphins will win four of a possible 16 games in 2019.
Can Tampa Bay Overcome Their Flaws?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been their own worst enemy with underachieving in recent years despite having a solid team around them. Like the Miami Dolphins, the Bucs have fired their former coach Dirk Koetter and brought in the well-respected Bruce Arians to become the 12th head coach in their franchise history. Tampa Bay has a long history of having a top-flight defense and their current quarterback is a former Florida State quarterback and top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Jameis Winston. Mixed results have come with Winston as the leader and top quarterback. Last year, Winston was benched twice and current starting Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick became a magical run leading the league in passing yards and touchdowns to start the 2018 season. Tampa Bay is hoping to see Winston stand out this season and prove he was the right choice once and for all. We predict the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will finish with .500 record with eight wins and eight losses.
Will the Jacksonville Jaguars Climb to the Top of Their Division?
Perhaps the team with the best chance to end up in the playoffs from these three Florida teams are the Jacksonville Jaguars. While the Jags finished last in their division with only five wins, they should be much improved in 2019. They added a Super Bowl winner for their quarterback in Nick Foles and landed the best defensive player in the 2019 NFL Draft in Josh Allen, the standout defensive end from Kentucky. The Jaguars are going to be among the most improved teams in the entire NFL. We expect the Jaguars to be in the playoffs in 2019 as their divison-rival, the Indianapolis Colts, lost their starting quarterback less than two weeks before the start of the season to retirement. The first pick in 2012 NFL Draft, Andrew Luck, informed the Colts he was mentally fatigued and refused to play this year, leaving his team in shock to start the season. In light of the news affecting the Colts, the Jaguars should finish with around nine wins and seven losses, good enough to be a Wild Card playoff team.
We can’t wait for the start of the 2019 NFL season. A century of football to look back on, but there’s no doubt the current game has some of the best players to ever play the game. Check out Florida Insider sports to remain informed on these professional Florida NFL teams year-round.
Chris began his writing as a hobby while attending Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. Today he and his wife live in the Orlando area with their three children and dog.