And so begins a new era of Jaguars football

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 01: David Garrard #9 of the Jacksonville Jaguars warms up prior to the game against the St. Louis Rams at EverBank Field on September 1, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Or perhaps it's better to call it the final phase of ushering in a new era?

The Jaguars have had some clearly defined eras in their history. The first was ushered in by Mark Brunell and company at the very beginning of the franchise's introduction into the league. This initial group of Jaguars burst out to more success than anyone ever expected and found themselves in the AFC Championship games in both the 1996 and 1999 seasons. Eventually a salary cap nightmare led to the demise of Tom Coughlin and the initial era of the Jaguars.

The next era began with the hiring of Jack Del Rio and the drafting of Byron Leftwich, but this era hardly found it's way off the ground. After four years of inconsistency and mediocrity the Jaguars released Leftwich and started backup David Garrard with the hopes that he would lead the Jaguars to the promise land. After a season that saw the Jaguars reach the divisional round of the playoffs he had the Jaguars convinced.

The Jaguars signed Garrard to a six year, $67.5 million contract following that 2007 season with the idea that he was the future of the franchise. As it turns out, he was nothing more than a bridge; a bridge that filled the gap between two eras. Garrard was never able to establish himself as a player that the Jaguars could build around and perennially win with.

On May 13, 2009 Collin Streetman wrote an article for BCC that declared the beginning of a new era with the hiring of Gene Smith as general manager. Perhaps that was when the latest era of the Jaguars began, or perhaps it was the day the Jaguars drafted Blaine Gabbert.

Regardless, today marks one of the largest and most important days in the history of the Jaguars. It represents the end of the last of the Shack Harris decisions and puts all judgment of the Jaguars squarely on the shoulders of Gene Smith. The 2011 Jaguars and the Jaguars of the future are a team that were wholly and entirely built by Gene from the ground up and he will be judged according.

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