If you're a Jacksonville Jaguars fan, you've got an issue with your offense. There's not a fan out there right now talking about how our offense is just "underrated' or "under performing" because we have so many players on the Injured Reserve. There are big issues, and no matter to which we lean on to be the biggest issue, we all know them:
-Wide Receiver Play
-Offensive Line Play
-Running Back Depth
I'm here to tell you, that despite how bad our Offense is, there is a true reason to hope for a turn around next year. I don't just mean improvement, I mean the kind of turn around that our Defense had last year.At this time one year ago, no one would have guess that we'd be lugging around a top 5 defense in the NFL. I remember many what-if conversations this summer in the comments section, and even then people said top 10 at best. Well, here we are. The spectacular thing about our Defense is not just the depth we have displayed through a league high amount of players on IR, but the fact that it has been strongly willed enough to stay tough in games that our offense couldn't produce a first down to save their lives. One almost has to wonder...with a strong offense, could we be number one on defense? Enter the process for making our Offense respectable again and dare I say, good.
Quarterback play is an entirely debatable variable here, and the one that's really going to decide how good we will be, but that's an obvious statement. It's for this reason that I'm going to simply suggest that Gabbert will be much better whenever he has an off-season to learn how to plant his feet and put the ball on target. Let's assume this works.
The first step is to chase after Dwayne Bowe. I have mentioned in the comments a couple times now how much I like this move. Many people will state that he has character issues, but the only character problems (and please correct me if I'm wrong here) that come to mind is when he openly admitted having women meet him when on the road. There was no crime, and the morality is debatable; perhaps the only real character problem was that he didn't keep his mouth shut about it. Bowe is a go-to receiver that can catch underneath, across the middle, down the sideline and over the top. While he doesn't have the most elite speed, like say Deshean Jackson, he has no problems getting separation and staying relevant in games. He is a perfect fit, and a safe acquisition, in my opinion. Bowe is currently making $2.77 million dollars, and is surely looking for a big paycheck. I expect something similiar to Sidney Rice: 5 year $41 million, $18.5 million guaranteed.
The next step would be to get the RB depth situation settled. A trade to the Saints for Pierre Thomas would be a great scenario if the cost isn't too high. Thomas is currently under contract through 2014 on a $12 million contract, and while this would be pricey for a backup running back, I believe Thomas would fit perfectly into our scheme and keep the defense honest when Jones-Drew comes off the field. Thomas is a do-all guy who lacks elite speed but could add a nice element to our rushing and passing offense. Though seemingly unlikely, I believe the Saints would be willing to part with him after drafting Mark Ingram and signing Darren Sproles.
If not Thomas, there are a number of guys such as Green-Ellis, Mike Tolbert, Michael Bush, Jason Snelling, Jarius Norwood and Mewelde Moore who I think can have a similar (while less impactive) role. I wouldn't expect any of these guys to cost more than Thomas. Maybe we can even find our guy in the middle-to-bottom of the draft?
If the season ended today, we would own the 4th pick of the draft with the Colts, Rams and Vikings selecting ahead of us. It is very possible that this is the scenario come April 2012. In this case, we may be in perfect position to grab Matt Kalil from Southern California. Kalil has been said to be one of the top prospects at Tackle in a while. Positives are his athleticism and his ability to maul the defender and get to the second level. In my opinion, he has the ability to be an elite Left Tackle. He could send Monroe to the right side, and allow Britten to move full-time to left guard. This opens up a battle between about 4 guys at Center, assuming there's no other acquisition.
The next step is to draft a Wide Receiver. At the top of the second round we are in a prime position to pick up a quality receiver, and I assure you missing out on Blackmon and Jeffrey won't be as painful as it seems. The only reason why you should draft a Wide Receiver in the first round is because you think he's a level higher than the guys available in the next round. You draft them because you think they're going to be Calvin Johnson...not because they're Michael Crabtree or Dez Bryant. Those are good players, but compare them to guys drafted after them (2009 and 2010 drafts): Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Eric Decker, Mike Williams, Emmanual Saunders, Louis Murphy and Austin Collie to name some. Is the drop off really that far? There are a fist full of guys that have a ton of potential who could be available for our choosing at the top of the second round. The following is the current ranked list over at www.mockingthedraft.com:
|1. Justin Blackmon | 6'1, 207 pounds | WR | Oklahoma State * - Prospect notes | Profile|
|2. Michael Floyd | 6'3, 228 pounds | WR | Notre Dame - Prospect notes | Red Flag Alert|
|3. Alshon Jeffery | 6'4, 232 pounds | WR | South Carolina * - Prospect notes | Profile | Profile 2|
|4. Dwight Jones | 6'4, 220 pounds | WR | North Carolina|
|5. Mohamed Sanu | 6'2, 218 pounds | WR | Rutgers *|
|6. Nick Toon | 6'3, 212 pounds | WR | Wisconsin|
|7. Kendall Wright | 5'10, 185 pounds | WR | Baylor|
|8. Marvin McNutt | 6'2, 215 pounds | WR | Iowa|
|9. Ryan Broyles | 5'11, 185 pounds | WR | Oklahoma - Prospect notes | Profile|
|10. Stephen Hill | 6'4, 206 pounds | WR | Georgia Tech *|
|11. Brian Quick | 6'4, 216 pounds | WR | Appalachian State|
Jones, Sanu, Toon, Wright, McNutt, and Broyles all have 2nd round tags on them right now. If someone slides, we may have a shot at two guys on this list in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, respectively.
So this is how our offense would look:
MJD, (Thomas?), Jennings
Bowe, (D. Jones?), Thomas, Dillard, West/Osgood, Shorts
Lewis, Miller, Potter/(Egnew if he falls to the 3rd?)
Kalil, Britten, * , Nwarni, Monroe
Bradfield, * , *, * , Haslam
*These spots to be determined
What I see there is a dominant Offensive Line with depth, a great set of skill position players that could take our team to the next level and a lot of young talent who have yet to reach, or are still in their primes. Many people will disagree with acquiring a high profile running back, but I ask you to look at the teams who have been successful with such RB depth in the past five years: Chargers (with LT and Sproles), Chiefs (of last year), Ravens, Giants (of '07) and the Texans this year.
Consider that all of this can be done with less FA expenses than Paul Pozluzny and Clint Sessions alone, and with only 2 draft picks. That leaves us the entire rest of the draft and Free Agency to figure out all of the other question marks. To those who think we should spend our money elsewhere, that leaves 4 draft picks, a lot of room left on the salary cap and a brand new, high dollar owner who has the most impressive mustache in the NFL, and more importantly is ready to play with his new toy.
Wide receivers, check. Offensive line, check. Running back depth, check. Quarterback Play? That will be the variable that determines if our Offense can turn the corner next off-season, the way our defense did this off-season.
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