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How the Jacksonville Jaguars succeeded in 2017

Photo courtesy: USA Today

"The whole is greater then the sum of its parts." This was a quote that was resonated with me throughout my high school career thanks to a devoted theater teacher.

The 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars are the prime example of "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts," as the young team is one win away from from Super Bowl LII.

Jacksonville haven't seen success like this since the late 90s, when former quarterback Mark Brunell lead the Jaguars to the AFC Championship game against the Tennessee Titans in 1999.

Like 1999, the Jaguars are following the same template that worked for them in the past. One of the key cogs behind Jacksonville's success is quarterback Blake Bortles.

The 25 year old quarterback was taken with the 3rd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and has attracted constant criticism ever since. Opposing defenses say the Jaguars passing attack is "basic and predictable."

People are quick to throw Bortles under the bus, but his numbers aren't vastly different from the last signal caller who got them to the AFC Championship game, Mark Brunell.

Many critics label Bortes as one of the worst starters in the league, but here are his numbers compared to Brunell's.

Mark Brunell's 1999 Statistics:

Mark Brunell's 1999 Statistics

Blake Bortles' 2017 Statistics:

Both Brunell and Bortles possess similar statistics, but the 3rd overall pick receives considerably more scrutiny. Could the reason be that Bortles has higher expectations than Brunell?

The former UCF Golden Knight was drafted with the weight of a franchise on his shoulders. Bortles did start his NFL career in a slower manner than a top five draft pick should. He threw for 11 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

Despite the slow start, Bortles has shown signs of improvement throughout his career.

Since 2014, Bortles has thrown for 79 touchdowns and 47 interceptions since his debut. The UCF alum remains serviceable as averages 241 yard passing per game, and holds strong with an 80.8% passer rating.

The increase in statistics for Bortles is attributed to that fact the Jacksonville front office has constructed a roster that is designed to take the pressure off him.

It starts with his backfield with Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon. Both running backs are a perfect example of a one-two punch that can cripple opposing defenses.

Fournette is a brilliant combination of speed and power, while Yeldon is a solid third-down back that can hit the home run from time-to-time. The running backs rushed for 1,200 yards combined in 2017. This production opened up space downfield for Bortles to utilize his stellar receivers.

Marquise Lee, Keelan Cole and Allen Hurns lead the way for Jacksonville with 1,934 combined yards receiving.

Doug Marrone and his coaching staff have allowed the Jaguars to blend their play calling brilliant to keep things fresh for the Jacksonville offense. Even though they are accussed of being "basic and predictable."

The defense for Jacksonville has been anything but predictable as linebacker Telvin Smith and the rest of the unit amp up the excitement. Jacksonville are ranked fifth in the NFL in points given up, and could prove to be a handful for the Patriots come Saturday.

Jacksonville also possess two of the best corners in the league A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey who terrorize opposing receivers.

If Jacksonville are to be successful and reach the Super Bowl, the whole will have to be greater than the sum of its parts. The Jaguars have got this far by playing tremendous team football and should be very competitive against the heavily favored Patriots come Saturday evening.

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