With Training Camps starting up this weekend and preseason football games only a few weeks away, I decided to compile a list of 10 things I think need to happen during the next month in order for the Jaguars to have a chance at making the playoffs or further this year. Here we go:
1. NO SERIOUS INJURIES - It is only training camp and preseason, we don't need David Garrard, Maurice Jones-Drew, Eugene Monroe, etc. going down with a serious injury before the season even starts. I understand that during the preseason we need to get the starters a little playing time in order to get them ready for the season, but we don't need to overdue it and risk injury. We all remember the infamous Michael Vick injury a few years ago. As long as the Jaguars can stay clear of serious injuries, we should be golden.
2. David Garrard settles down - Every year since the 2007 season we have seen David Garrard come into training camp and preseason looking shaky. Everyone in the media and even Jack Del Rio are questioning Garrard as to whether he is a good quarterback in this league. In previous preseason games he has been very up and down where one game he will have a great game, like against Tampa Bay last year (Week 2 Pre) he went 10/16 for 216 and a TD, but then the very next game he will have a terrible game, at Philadelphia (Week 3 Pre) he went 8/14 for 93 with a INT where most of his 93 yards came on a 50 yard reception by MJD who did most the work. Overall if Garrard can come into this training camp/preseason, settles down, looks good at camp, and have 4 quality preseason games then it will help relax fans, Jack Del Rio, and hopefully give Garrard confidence going into the season.
3. Sign Tyson Alualu - This is an obvious must for the Jaguars. They spent the off season revamping their defensive line towards a youth movement and they need Alualu at training camp on time if not as soon as possible. If Alualu can get to training camp on time it will allow this very raw and young defensive unit to gel and hopefully start developing + working together. The more time that Alualu gets with Kampman, Harvey and Knighton the quicker his development will be and the better the defensive line will get. If Alualu can't be signed by training camp then 3rd round pick, D'Anthony Smith would take over his spot on the first unit which would not be a terrible prospect but Alualu has a better motor plus better attacking skills and his absence would be noticeable.
4. Cohesion on the Offensive Line - In 2007 our O-line was a strength but since then the line has seen a lot of changes and has not performed well. In 2009 we drafted Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton who has decent rookie seasons and will be back for their sophomore years. Hopefully with one year under their belt these two will be even better this year. The issue is with the interior of the line. Vince Manuwai is a great run blocker but he had that ACL tear and we will see if he can ever get back to his old form, he is young so it is possible. Uche Nwaneri is young and has been improving but he is not a good run blocker and there has been debate about what position he should play on the line because of Brad Meester's decline. Brad Meester is still around at center but his 2009 was awful and he is getting older, so bouncing back will be tough. Now throw in the newly acquired Justin Smiley who has talent and wants to show the Dolphins why they shouldn't have traded him and there is a lot of potential on the offensive line. Overall the Jaguars coaches need to settle on a plan for the offensive line during training camp and then give these guys the preseason to gel and come together. This line can not afford to be raw or have a weak link come opening day because if this line can settle down and become as effective as they were in 2007 well then the Jaguars might surprise a lot of people.
5. No Sophomore Slumps - Coming into the 2010 season the Jaguars have a lot of key players who are entering their second season in the NFL, such as Mike Thomas, Eugene Monroe, Eben Britton, Terrance Knighton, Jarett Dillard, Rashard Jennings, Russell Allen, and Zach Miller. Everyone of these players is going to be an important part of the Jaguars success or failure this season. Mike Thomas is expected to be the #2 WR, Monroe and Britton are the starting tackles, Knighton is a starting DT, Dillard could possibly be the #3 or #4 receiver, Jennings is most likely MJD's back-up, Allen is completing for a starting LB spot and Miller (if he recovers from injury) should be our #2 TE. Overall the Jaguars success this season depends on how these players play and we need them to avoid the so-called sophomore slump, starting this preseason. We need them all to come our strong and get confidence early because if one or two of these players starts to regress or play poorly then we could be in trouble come opening day.