For those who have not figured it out yet, I am a Jacksonville Jaguars fan. I have followed the team closely since its’ creation, and I go to as many games as I can. Every time the team has issued a call for fans to step up, and buy tickets, I have done my utmost. I have kinda been quiet about the team’s decisions, thus far, due to the recent transfer of ownership to Shahid (Shad) Khan. I have taken the wait and see approach as far as I can, and I must now speak out.
I am a bit surprised the Jaguars did not go into free agency with blank checks, to recruit a better receiving corps. Their number one priority, to give the team a better chance of winning decisively, should have been Wide Receivers. The failed recruitment of multiple free agent Wide Receivers was a huge mistake. The team made one mini splash with the acquisition of WR Laurent Robinson. Robinson is a playmaker, but he has proven thus far to be inconsistent, in his ability to stay on the field. The Jaguars have not had a decent threat, at this position, since Jimmy Smith retired. We have not had a consistent threat at Wide Receiver since the combo of Keenan McKardell/Jimmy Smith lined up on the same field, for the Jaguars. Jaguar fans fondly remember them being called Thunder, and Lightning. Since Smith’s retirement, we have not even had a storm cloud, in our receiving corps. I am sad to report that the Jaguars still lack a top quality, consistent, play making, number one Wide Receiver. We have had a few moments when great game winning passes were caught; however, with all the dropped balls, short/over thrown balls, blown routes, strips, fumbles, and plain old sloppy preparation & play by the team’s Wide Receivers, I think those few great catches were accidents. It looks like we are in for more of the same anemic vertical passing game we have been putting up with for way too long. Our only hope is that Robinson, or one of our other receivers, will step up, and be a consistent playmaker. The odds of picking up a WR in the draft who can come in, and electrify the team from day one are very slim. Remember all the hoopla about Rookie Matt Jones a few years ago? We are more likely to wind up with a flop like Jones, instead of a game changer, like Smith, or McKardell. As one of the fans so fondly, and often asks, “Whatever happened to those Jaguars, in their pretty white shoes?”. I am asking is Mr. Khan really in it to win it? If so, the recruitment of free agent Wide Receivers should have been much more than we got. They could have at least signed Mannigham, in addition to Robinson. Remember the game winning catch he made for the Giants, in the Super Bowl? He was attainable. He was the Giants #3 WR. The poise he showed with that sideline catch, in the Super Bowl is something the Jaguars are lacking. Throwing the ball to HB Jones – Drew, and TE Marcedes Lewis is getting to be old, and very predictable. We desperately need top quality down the field, and in the slot receivers. I guess we can hope Head Coach Mularkey, and company can do something with the group we have, and any draft picks we get. Since this is Mularkey’s first year here, I will give him the benefit of the doubt, for now.
Under coach Jack Del Rio, former GM Shack Harris, and the scouts in the front office, the Jaguars were not able to draft a decent rookie Quarterback. Remember Leftwich? We had some very painful days with him under center. I am hoping current GM Gene Smith‘s selection of Blaine Gabbert will pay dividends for us this year, in the form of decisive wins. Last year, because of the lockout, Gabbert really got shafted, and was thrown to the wolves without adequate preparation. He did show improvement each game. I am hoping that with a full off-season of preparation, and a new set of coaches to work with him, we will see Gabbert’s play improve dramatically. What I like about him the most is he seriously tries to not lose the ball. Yes, he had some fumbles, and interceptions, but all things considered, he showed a really great ability/desire to not turn the ball over. If we can get him some decent Wide Receivers, and another good Tight End to line up opposite Marcedes Lewis, we can pose a triple threat; run, throw to WR, and throw to TE/HB. Moreover, Gabbert will need the offensive line to come into the season, from game one, all the way to the playoffs, and hopefully the Super Bowl, ready, willing, and able to protect the Quarterback, and open running lanes for Jones-Drew.
Defensively speaking, we finished with the number 6 overall defense last year. The Monday Night Ravens vs Jags game was won by a great defensive performance, topped off with great kicking by Josh Scobee (Scoobey). I expect to see continued exceptional defensive play with the core group of players being brought back from last season, supplemented by some decent Free Agents, and perhaps a surprise player from the draft.
About the draft. Now that Wayne Weaver is not the owner of the Jags, I hope the team will look to bigger schools, with exceptional football programs for draft picks instead of going dumpster diving in no name schools, with small football programs. The blue light special has not worked for us, and I hope Mr. Khan will direct Gene Smith to look to the better schools, with the better football programs.
- 2012 Free Agency: Wide Receiver Must Still Be the Priority of the Jaguars Draft (bleacherreport.com)
- Jacksonville Jaguars: 5 Essential Bargain Free Agents (bleacherreport.com)
- AFC South Advanced Stat of the Week: Jacksonville Jaguars (bleacherreport.com)
- Jaguars hoped to be #1 WR (urbgasm.com)