Preseason is finally over and we are due to trim the roster down to 53 players by Saturday. Some overall impressions of this year's version of our favorite team going into the regular season:
1) WRs - I'm very pleased with the direction that the WR corp is moving in. After last year's worst in NFL crop, Gene made the right move in gutting that squad and beginning anew. Very happy to have Torry Holt. Troy Williamson appears to have put the pieces together. He has impressed in the preseason - hope this carries over into the regular season. Mike "INA" Sims-Walker - the name change has apparently worked; he actually got onto the field and WOW! He was fantastic last night. I want to see him produce in regular season games - but he is definately worth a roster spot. Stay healthy and stay on the field Mike, but for now, you have definately won me over. I also like our rookies. It will take some time to develop their talent, but you can see the foundation is definately there. This group may see the biggest overall improvement on the team this year.
2) O - Line - we have some new blood and it was sorely needed. Upgrades are still needed in the center and guard spots. This unit will require some time to develop continuity and Britton will get schoolled from time to time as all rookies will. Pass protection has improved but still needs work. In every preseason game, the opposing team's pass rush looked like a team jail break at times and David definately took some shots this preseason. This will be a work in progress at least for the early part of the season.
3) Defense - I think this will be a middle of the road D again this year, but with the beginnings of improvement. There were just to many holes to fill coming into this season. Cox may be a great find and so too is Knighten. I think Gene may have really maximized draft pick impact with limited picks going towards the D this year. Time will tell. Big John appears to have waken up this preseaon and that bodes well. Harvey has improved his game this preseason and he seems to be getting closer. The D line overall, still has issues generating pass rush on thier own - it seemed to me that most of our pressure this preseason was generated via blitzing. The seondary still has issues. It will be interesting the see what impact Cox has on this unit as the season progresses. Given that we gave up next years' 2nd round pick - I'll be watching this very closely (as I'm sure you will too).
4) Team - I thought the team as a whole improved each week, which is what you want to see. I want to see continued improvement in individual players and the team as a whole. And I want to see a more consistent team from week to week. This has proven to be elusive in the past. Given the amount of young players who will either be starting or seeing significant playing time, this may prove to be challenging, but nevertheless, it needs to occur.
5) Gene Smith - I am very impressed with Gene so far. He seems to have a good eye for talent and a keen mind. He's already "POed" a couple of other GMs by making some schrewd pick ups, which really makes me smile. We never saw that under Shack. I think Gene is exactly what this team needs and given one or 2 more off seasons, we may seriously contend. His first draft class may prove to be the best in the league this year from top to bottom and provide a solid nucleus from which to build a consistent winner in JAX. And winning is the great cure all to our attendance issues. I will admit to being one of those who are very concerned of JAX's ability to keep this franchise in town. Gene just may literally prove to be this teams' saviour.
Prediction - This is a team that will see several very young players either starting or seeing significant playing time. There will be learning via the school of hard knocks. I believe that a 7-9 record is realistic, but this team will scrap and fight. You never know, Miami came out of nowhere last year. I am genuinely looking forward to this season and I am excited about it. I believe this team is headed in the right direction and it will be fun to watch the young talent and team chemistry develop throughout the course of this season.
What are your thoughts?