I didn't get to watch the game but I didn't have to be there to feel the complete state of disarray that has descended upon this Jaguars Franchise. The moment started at 12:58, and slowly drifted into two long moments where I sensed utter doom. Much to my surprise, I was correct. I was grocery shopping during much of the game but I kept receiving text message after text message, each one worst than the one before: "they suck", "just awful", "unbearable to watch". I thought to myself what allowed it to get to this point? The team hasn't one a game since Packers in Week 14 of last year. Game after game, loss after loss wondering when it would all end. I remember when that season was over patiently waiting for draft but with an incurable anxiety. With so many promises of rebuilding one couldn't hope but feel as if maybe, just maybe in 2009 the Jaguars had a chance. The expensive free agents were removed, our roster was overhauled, and the bane of our existence, the proverbial ball and chain was fired: Shack Harris. I listened for months as I heard how Shack Harris singlehandedly destroyed the Jaguars. I heard how Jack Del Rio would have a "tough camp" and reignite our team. How Gene Smith would save our team through sound drafting. I bought into it all. I was a believer, but not now, not at this hour. I cannot overlook this current state of affairs.
Attendance is perhaps the worst in the league. Our offensive Line is no better than it was a year ago. The defense, the anchor of our team in so many past years, is near the bottom in the league. Just who is this team? We are no longer a bend but don't break "smash mouth" defense but a weak, porous, battered and abused mess of men both powerless to stop the run and even more against the pass. We had visions during the off season of bringing in the 3-4 and mixing up schemes and then once again we see it doesn't matter because we simply don't have the personnel or the talent to run either a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense. The only standout from a defensive perspective is Rashean Mathis who has consistently been a top 10 corner in the league (I'd actually argue he is in the top 5).
The offense is an entire story to itself. What is it? Are we a power running team or a passing attack team because we can do neither. When Fred Taylor was released I welcomed it as a way to infuse youth at the position. How could I have grossly miscalculated? I think this team needs Fred, a proven vet to continue to share the load with Maurice Jones-Drew. I do not think neither Jennings nor Jones provides a viable solution and I have not been convinced that MJD for as great as he is can be a full-time featured back. I believe he works better in a two back system. Then there our the WRs. I am grateful for what they did to this position in the offseason but why have we not seen Thomas or Dillard, two big time standouts in college? Why are the WRs not getting targeted more? Is it Garrard not seeing them to the point his only option is MJD, lack of separation, lack of time (going back to the first point) or a combination of things coupled with the potential that perhaps he is inadequate at the position? Perhaps it is coaching. Can anyone honestly remember the last time we had a downfield attack? I grow tired of the screens, 5 yard out patterns, the infamous 10 yard slant, and the short passes on 3rd and long that always net us less than 10 yards.
There are so many problems that appear to have not been fixed over Jack Del Rio's tenure. We have heard excuse after excuse, and seen fingers pointed at all directions. During the first rebuilding the excuse was legitimate: the team was simply recovering from salary cap problems. The second rebuilding's excuse was mainly squared on Shack Harris even though the Jaguars employed a draft by committee stance. Then you throw in all the other numerous excuses: Jack Del Rio hasn't had enough time, the WRs are too slow, Leftwich is imobile, Garrard simply can't complete his passes without a solid O-line., etc etc. Some of the excuses offer reasonable explanations to the team's failures but others are quickly becoming weak ones such as the one regarding JDR's tenure.
JDR has had more than enough time, and more chances than many other owners would have given to turn the team around. He is the undisputed captain of the team, and he has failed us all. But I tried to overlook his failures, and stay strong in my faith that next year would be the year and as each "next year" arrived I found that golden dream to be nothing more than a dream that cannot be delivered.
Sadly, I feel that by the time he has completed this second stage of rebuilding that it may be too late. I will not continue to believe that this team has what it needs to be competitive either this year or next. I do not think it can be done under Jack Del Rio no matter if we draft Tebow, or Snead, or Bradford. The fans will continue to demand a competitive product and if it is not delivered, and done with haste then I fear the worst. The only way it seems to keep this franchise will be to start on a path of winning. Will we be able to do it?
I'm not so sure...