Saturday, February 12, 2011

Poised to Make the Leap

The Jaguars are there. They showed that last year. In 2008, it was believed that the Jaguars were only a guy or two from being a real Super Bowl contender. No, this year's Jaguars team wasn't that close, but they showed the division that they are here to stay. Combine a solid young offense, outstanding special teams, and a lot of money to spend. What do you get? You get a team that could go on a rampage in the upcoming season.



Gene Smith has a lot of help this off-season. He has more picks in the draft than he did last year, and he's working with one of the lowest team salaries in the NFL. He's also got some of last year's picks coming back after season long injuries. D'Anthony Smith and Scotty McGee were both injured by the time the season started last year, but they are both expected to pick up right where they left off. Jack Del Rio has said that D'Anthony Smith is in the best shape he's ever been. Those two guys basically represent extra draft picks this year.

It's worth noting that the Jaguars don't have too many needs to address. Yes, they need a linebacker, a couple safeties, and a couple lineman on both sides of the ball, but free agency could provide some short term patches while the draft fixes a couple of those spots. I think it's safe to say that the Jaguars won't go after the big name players if and when free agency begins, but he has made very smart pick-ups in the past. Kassim Osgood was good, right?

Who is "The Man?"

Starting on Monday, I will be writing a five part series about the quarterbacks most likely to be drafted by the Jaguars. The poll is at the end of this story on bigcatcountry.com. The series will highlight the top five vote-getters and what they would bring to the table for the Jaguars. It's widely accepted that the Jaguars will address the future of the quarterback position. I will get the vote results sometime tomorrow night so make sure to head over their and vote before it's too late.

Getting Out of Town

The Jaguars have found their new quarterbacks coach, and he's not jumping from the collegiate level. Jason La Canfora reported that the Jaguars will hire Bengals' wide receivers coach, Mike Sheppard, to be the new quarterbacks coach in Jacksonville.


Sheppard has been the wide receivers coach for four years prior to the move. The whole situation is a little comical. With two star wide receivers, you would think the Bengals' wide receivers coaching position would be highly desirable, but that's before you consider that the two stars are Chad soon-to-be-Johnson-again Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. The comical part is that the Jaguars were able to draw a coach away with a virtually lateral move and a one year contract. The Jaguars are getting a coach with seventeen years of experience. This is clearly a steal for the Jaguars as they will continue to try to keep their current coaching staff on-board next year. The Bengals may already be regretting committing to Marvin Lewis. Clearly, he's the only coach that wants anything to do with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Jaguars are expected to make the official announcement on Monday.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Don't Blame This Group

Much has been made of the Jaguars' defensive woes. So, for just a little bit, let's celebrate the success of the Jaguars' offense. David Garrard has been a stable quarterback since taking over permanently in 2007. Marcedes Lewis has emerged as one of the best tight ends in the league. Complimenting them, Maurice Jones-Drew, also known as MJD, is one of the premier runners in the league. The Jaguars also have a duo of young, physical tackles, Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton, that should be paving the way for the run and pass for years to come. Finally, the Jaguars have a pair of up and coming wide receivers, Mike Thomas and Mike Sims-Walker.


Indeed, the Jaguars don't have the most potent offense in the NFL, nor do they have the most consistent. They do, however, have an offense that could quite possibly carry them into the post-season next year if their defense can step up their game to average. Consider this, do the Steelers have an explosive offense that can score at any moment? Did the Steelers throw it all over the yard to get into the Super Bowl? No. The Steelers dominated teams with their defense and simply got it done on offense. With another year in the books, this offense looks to be the best unit the Jaguars have fielded since the Mark Brunell era.

I didn't even mention some of the other young talents on offense. Jason Hill really showed something late in the year. Tiquan Underwood has lights out speed and may develop into another deep threat as Hill seemingly has. How about Deji Karim? He didn't get the ball handed to him much, but when he did, he generally gained solid yardage. On top of that, he was the kickoff return man for one of the leagues best special teams units. He had 50 returns with a 25 yard average. That's 1250 yards on kickoff returns alone. Say what you want about the defense, but this offense could be special, and with Dirk Koetter calling plays, the sky's the limit.
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The Debate Rages On

Should the Jaguars take a quarterback in the first round of this years draft? Should the Jags worry about defense first, and then take a quarterback if one is still available later? Fans have drawn a line in the sand, and frankly, their is no right answer.

David-garrard

It's not like David Garrard is awful, but in today's NFL, average just doesn't get it done. The Jaguars haven't drafted a quarterback since taking Byron Leftwich with the 7th overall pick in 2003. So, are the Jaguars in trouble at the quarterback position? No, the Jaguars actually have more viable backups than most other teams. I read in an article that every other NFL team has drafted at least two quarterbacks since the Jags drafted Leftwich. So what? Look at the Colts. They have drafted two, but how would their team play if Manning were to go down? I really don't see the Colts having a winning record with Curtis Painter at quarterback. Really, they would be luck to beat the Detroit Lions with that situation.

The Jaguars have built a stable of viable backups through free agency. Trent Edwards was claimed off of waivers after Luke McCown went down early in the season. McCown played phenomenal football in his pre-season action. Trent Edwards did okay in his limited action last season. Most teams would love to have a former starter as their backup, much less their third string.

I do think the Jags will take a quarterback this year. Gene Smith will get "the man" at some point in the draft. Ryan Mallet would be a good fit for the Jags. He's big, strong, and he would have plenty of time to learn and develop. The same can be said for other candidates such as Christian Ponder, Pat Devlin, Andy Dalton, and Colin Kaepernick. The bottom line will be which quarterback ends up at the top of GM Gene's board when it's the Jaguars turn to pick.

Jaguars Across the Web

California Jag explains the need for a quarterback.

Coach Del Rio answered questions from the fans, more to come later today.
Here's part two of "Ask the Coach."

Tanya Ganguli says that Marcedes Lewis wants a long-term deal.

The Jaguars still need to think about the offensive line, says Jonathan Loesche.

Zoltanfrombudapest thinks the Jaguars should try to acquire a veteran quarterback.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Jagsdaily will be moving to jagsallday.com in the next day or so!

Coaches' Contracts Continue to Hurt Jaguars

First it was Mike Shula. Now his replacement, Todd Monken, has left town. Can you blame them? These men have to think about themselves and their families first.



The Jaguars now have a new challenge. They can't keep promoting people from inside the organization. There's simply not enough coaches as it is. It's equally as hard to find a quality coach that's willing to take a one year contract. Solutions anyone? I think the Jaguars will bring in a coach hoping to move up to the pros. I also think that offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, will be more involved with the quarterbacks next season.

The current job opening in Jacksonville is an intriguing one. Perhaps Jack Del Rio will do with his coaches what Gene Smith has done with the roster, find small school talent, and bring him up to the big leagues.

Defensive Woes Will be the Focus

Awful. It's one word that sums up the Jaguars defense in 2010. The Jaguars surrendered 371.8 yards per game, and 250.2 yards per game were through the air. That still leaves 121.6 yards per game against the ground. I know that I'm throwing a lot of stats at you, but in 2007, the Jags gave up just 313.8 yards per game (100.3 yards on the ground). Trouble? Yeah, I'd say the Jags have had some trouble this past year.



The Jaguars defensive coordinator, Mel Tucker, will take over the defensive play calling duties in 2011. This is somewhat significant considering Tucker's 3-4 background. I wonder, will the Jags incorporate more 3-4 concepts next year. Unlike in the past, the Jaguars now have some viable options in a 3-4 defense. Knighton can play nose tackle, and Alualu can play defensive end. In 3-4 situations, Aaron Kampman would likely be an outside linebacker.

Scheme isn't the only problem. In fact, I don't think it was much of the problem at all. The Jaguars have had great success in the past with their 4-3 style. The problem was the back end of the defense. Simply put, the Jaguars need safeties. The Jaguars have the foundations for a good secondary. Mathis may be in decline, but he's still a good option, and Cox showed a lot of improvement in the second half of the year. Courtney Greene may be a viable option at the safety position. He wasn't very good in coverage, but he made tackles in the open field. The problem is, you can't have two safeties that can't cover. Unfortunately, this draft isn't deep at safety. It would appear that this may be the year that GM Gene finds someone in free agency to fill the gap for  one more year.

The final piece of the defensive puzzle is at linebacker. The Jaguars have a veteran corp, but none of them are great in coverage. I fully expect the Jags to target a linebacker and fit their pick to that player. Justin Durant has great potential and he has a good motor (GM Gene doesn't keep guys that don't have good motors). It would seem that the defense is on its way back, but it's also clear that Mel Tucker and friends have a long way to go.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ponder Would be a Popular Pick

At 6'3", 227 pounds, Christian Ponder has the build of a pro quarterback. He's played college football at Florida State University, and it doesn't seem to be hard to imagine him wearing teal in the near future. This guy has it all. He can put a lot of zip on the short passes, and he's known for sound mechanics and great accuracy. He gets to the back of his drop quickly and gets the ball out of his hands. Oh yeah, did I mention he's a fan favorite?



Ponder, unlike Tebow, is considered pro-ready. He could work wonders for the Jaguars PR department. If the Jaguars were to draft him, he would instantly become the face of Jaguars football (okay, maybe second only to MJD). Ponder can play too. He threw for 20 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions en route to over 2000 yards last season.

That being said, there are concerns with Ponder. His deep ball has a tendency to hang in the air, especially on deep corner routes. There are also serious injury concerns. Matthew Stafford is a prime example of great talent that can't stay healthy. On top of that, you have to consider what drafting Ponder would do to the current quarterback situation in Jacksonville. As it stands, it is assumed that David Garrard will be the starter next season, but if Ponder is on the bench, I have to wonder if the fans will have the patience to wait a whole year while watching Garrard run the offense. There's no doubt the coaches would give Garrard a shorter leash than he had with such backups as Todd Bauman and Trent Edwards, but coaches have to play the players that give the team the best chance to win games.

Whatever the situation may be after day one of the draft, we can be assured of two things. GM Gene and company will do their due diligence, and the Jacksonville Jaguars will have "the man."

John Oehser Returning to Jacksonville

The Jacksonville Jaguars have named John Oehser the successor to Vic Ketchman. Oehser covered the Jags for their first six seasons before heading to Indianapolis to cover the Colts, among others. For a more in-depth look at Oehser, follow this link.
Coach Del Rio will be answering questions submitted on Jaguars.com both Thursday and Friday.

Best Available Player - For Dummies

Gene Smith has become known by Jaguars' fans as being a low key guy. He drafts smart, makes low risk signings in free agency, and occasionally makes a high reward splash. Many people within the Jacksonville market have asked why Gene Smith hasn't signed a big play player (I'm lookin' at you T.O.). So, I thought it would be appropriate to give a short and simple explanation of the best-available-player approach (BAP) to the NFL draft.



The idea of BAP is that when it is your turn to pick, you take the guy at the top of your board, period. In this method, you either pick that player or trade down, and do it again. Using the BAP system makes draft day much easier for the GM because the only variables are trades. It eliminates last second decisions. It's this simple. The scouts and GM Gene will give a ranking to every player on their board before the draft. When draft day comes, they pick whoever is highest on the board. That's it.

Gene Smith has shown a devotion to this method (also employed by such teams as the Packers and Steelers). It does lead to some criticism from Mel Kiper. But, how did Tyson Alualu work out? How about Eugene Monroe? It's worked so far, and it will continue to work as long as the Jaguars personnel department can identify and target young talent. Who knows, maybe in a year or two we'll be talking about a Jaguars, Packers Super Bowl.



Tyson Alualu was supposed to be picked in the late 1st or early 2nd round, but he's proven that he was well worth the 10th pick of the draft.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jaguars Across the Web

Wayne Weaver met with the media on Tuesday to talk about the team and the current CBA situation.

Ryan Robinson highlights all of the awards the Jaguars' players received this year.

The Jaguars released Jordan Black and signed Bradley Vierling on Tuesday.

Vito Stellino says Roger Goodell had a rough week.

Alfie Crow highlights the salary caps of the AFC South teams.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl XLV, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This Super Bowl was promoted as the best one yet. Unfortunately, it didn't exactly live up to the hype.


The Good:
The Steelers made it a game. Not only that, but the Steelers had an opportunity to drive down the field and win the game. Had they pulled it off, it would have been one of the most well remembered Super Bowls of all time. Also, the officials didn't make their presence known too often. They missed a couple of penalties but nothing major.

The Bad:
The Steelers take the cake on this one. They shot their foot off the whole first half. And when it mattered most, they did it again. The halftime show wasn't much better. The Black Eyed Peas sounded awful. This should have been the best halftime show in years, but Dallas couldn't give a us a show.

The Ugly:
Christina Aguilera's version of the national anthem. If there is one song that everyone should know, it's this one. It was just one of those did-I-just-hear-that moments. Jerry Jones only added to the debacle. About 1200 ticket holders found out upon arrival that they didn't have seats. 800 of those were taken to the lower level to watch the game on a tv. The other 400 are being given a refund of triple their cost. Finally, the gameplay itself. Both teams were making mistake after mistake. These problems and the lack of excitement will ensure that this Super Bowl will be soon forgot.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Congrats Green Bay. I know Vic is smiling at that one.

Super Bowl XLV - Pittsburgh Steelers vs Green Bay Packers

We've been waiting months for this game, and now it's here. This is your forum for Super Bowl XLV. I'll be leaving my comments below as well. Enjoy the game everyone!

Jaguars Face a Tough Road in 2011

The Jacksonville Jaguars will face a tough road to deliver on their promise to make the playoffs next year.  Here are their opponents for 2011:

Home:
Indianapolis Colts
Houston Texans
Tennessee Titans
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
San Diego Chargers 

Road:
Indianapolis Colts
Houston Texans
Tennessee Titans
Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers
Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers
New York Jets

Players progression from the 2009 and 2010 draft classes will likely determine whether this team makes the playoffs.  I guess we'll just wait and see.