That all being said, the rumors have already been started about Gene Smith finally getting fired. I use to "Believe in Gene", I really did like how he gave the small school guys a shot no matter what. He thought talent was more important than where you went to school at. Yes he did miss on a lot of picks, from Quinton Groves to Matt Jones and everything else. On the positive side most of his small school guys are still around and are doing great. Cecil Shorts, Will Middleton, and Derek Cox to name a few. So it wasn't all bad, but change is still needed. My list of GM candidates wasn't very long since not many people know a lot about these guys. I researched all I could and compiled this list.
As I mentioned before the rumors have started swirling in the bowl. Thankfully they are good rumors, Tom Gamble was my first choice after looking at his work history. He has 25 years in the NFL in various levels from coaching to front office. He is a players person and old school, he evaluated talent on every level from college to pro free agency. This is just the kind of GM Khan needs and wants. He makes perfect sense to me. I say welcome aboard Mr. Gamble, and with a name like that you know he's use to taking risk. Maybe even risk enough to come to Jacksonville and turn it around.
My GM choice - Tom Gamble
After I did the GM research I spent the next few days looking at Head Coach candidates that could be had for next year. Let me say that I don't think Mularkey is a bad coach, I think he was victim to having his buddy (Bob Bratkowski) leading him astray. When our offense was completely stagnant it wasn't lack of effort from players, it was terrible play calling. That would be the fault of Mr. Bratkowski, but that also falls on his head being the head coach. He should have done something to get it changed. Why would you call run plays on 3rd and 4 on the opponents side of the field, knowing that you have only averaged 2 yards a run when you're lucky. I still think he is a good coach all around and I would be willing to keep him, as I'm sure the players would like him to stay around a year so they can do better for him. That doesn't seem likely with a new GM coming in though, he's gonna probably not get saddled with a losing coach. So with that being said I look for a change to come too most of the coaching staff, because with a new Head Coach coming in almost all of the coaching staff will change with him. I would hope we can at least retain Jerry Sullivan to continue his progression of Blackmon and Shorts. The list of candidates I put together,
As I said before I would be in favor of bringing back Mularkey, I wouldn't be surprised if Gamble brings Vic Fangio with him. If you don't know he is the Defensive Coordinator for the 49ers, who have been the tops of the long for the last three years thanks to him, wouldn't mind that at all. Only problem is that Khan wants to make a "splash" and this wouldn't exactly do that. Hiring one of the Kelly's would however. Personally I think Chip Kelly is the man we need, he is an offensive genius that loves to run the ball (which we are already built for.) He's a heck of a motivator, and has experience with rebuilding and revitalizing a team. Look no further than the huge impact he made at Oregon, they have become a powerhouse in college ball today. Chip is also a bit younger than most the other candidates and with the youth of our team he's "get them" better than some of the older guys. I wouldn't mind either of the Gruden boys. I saw what Jon did in Tampa, and yes you could say he came in to a set up team. One problem with that though, look what happened as soon as he was gone. Jon knows football flat-out, he's passionate and can get the job done. I grew up watching Jay Gruden as a player coach for the Orlando Predators, which gives you loads of respect in my book. He wasn't just out there preaching about it, he was doing it too.
My HC choice - Chip Kelly
On to what a lot of us considered a huge problem this year for us, the Offensive Coordinator. There is an expression I learned a long time ago that has served me well that Bob could have used. Keep it simple stupid. There is no need to over complicate things, why send three guys in motion in hopes to confuse the defense and then throw a 3-5 yard dink pass. Not to over look the terrible run game, but calling run plays on your side of the field on 2nd or 3rd and long is just dumb. You give your players no chance to make anything happen. So I spent time looking up who is available and this is the list I cam up with,
I don't see Jay Gruden leaving Cincinatti for Jacksonville unless it's the Head Coach job, but he's worth mentioning. Yes I know we tried to get him last year, but like they say if at first you don't succeed. Tom Clements is currently in Green Bay enjoying having Aaron Rodgers so if we go after him it will cost A LOT. Schottenheimer seems pretty invested in St. Louis with Jeff Fisher turning that program around. Which brings me to my pick Hue Jackson. A hard nosed in your face motivator that produces, and does so by using the strengths of his players. When he was in Oakland he turned the offense there in to the best unit they have had in years, ranking in the top 5 all across the board. I found this quote from Jason Campbell while researching him, "He's brought so much to this team, especially offensively," Campbell said. "His mindset. His attitude. He pushes everybody each and every play. There's not a day off, there's not a play off. In order to be a champion in life, you've got to work like one. That's what he preaches every day, to work like a champion." Just the kind of injection our offense needs. He even pushes the defense to make plays against his offense during practice, making both sides of the ball work harder and get better. Not to mention he learned his craft from one of the best coaches in Steve Spurrier.
My choice for OC - Hue Jackson
The area that some think needs to be changed as well is our Defensive Coordinator. I however feel differently, I like Mel Tucker and his philosophy on defense. They didn't look that great this year, but I don't know of many teams that have had their defense on the field as much as we have. We didn't get much as far as pass rush goes as we would have liked, but when you only dedicate four guys to the rush it's hard to "win" out on the line. I also keep in mind that we were not at full strength on this side of the ball all season. Our pass rush was stagnant do to the fact we didn't fully address it last year. We only added Andre Branch through the draft, and nobody in free agency. We could have used a guy like Mario Williams but for his price tag I'm glad we passed on him. We have a chance to fix this going in to this draft because pass rushers are plentiful in this years draft class. The list of possible candidates I put together is this,
As mentioned before I like Vic Fangio and he would make a great Coordinator, however I don't see him leaving the 49ers for the same position elsewhere. Besides we don't have the personnel to run the 3-4 he does. Still a possibility of him coming with Gamble, you never know. Of the remaining ones I listed there is a lot to like. Mike Zimmer has done a heck of a job with the Bengals, and I don't see him leaving right now. John Marshall runs a 3-3-5 nickel type scheme which we could pull off a little easier than a 3-4. He's a players coach that earns loyalty every where he has been. He would help our new linebackers out a lot, in 2005 he led the league in defense with 50 sacks, only one as in singular 100 yard rushing game, and had a incredible 40.4 percent redzone defense. His defense only gave up 5 rushing touchdowns that year. I wouldn't mind having him come in as the coordinator, or better yet a linebackers coach. Pepper Johnson is interesting, I put him in the same boat as Marshall almost. He doesn't have the track record Marshall does, but his resume is still pretty good. He's learning from Bill Belichick as his linebackers coach. For a group of guys that were pretty banged up the linebackers in New England are still pretty potent. It would be interesting enough to see what he might do with the whole defense, if not at least he could help the linebackers like Marshall. Both would be worth a look in to, it couldn't hurt. Todd Bowles is probably the most intriguing one on the list to me. With a cleaning of house sure to come in Phili' he could be looking for a new home. Now that he has full reign of the defense in Philidelphia his impact has been noticed. The best part about him not being he likes the 4-3, but his intelligence. Moving personnel around to the best fit and most production possible.
My choice for DC - Mel Tucker or Todd Bowles… too close to decide, if Bowles becomes available I say we get him. If not we stick with Mel.
As far as the rest of the staff goes the only coaches I see as must keeps are Jerry Sullivan, Joe Cullen, Greg Olson, Marlon Mcree, and Paul Spicer. The last two are assistants I know, but they are also two of the Jaguars all time bests in their positions.
When I started this I had a large list of free agents put together and was just going to hit on the guys I think we should target. Instead I will save the time and space and just list who we should get and why.
1. Matt Moore QB - He is better than Henne period. This would be the second time he replaces Henne also, that goes to show you something. I thought he was the best option in Miami this year, but I also understand why they went with Tannehill. He can come in and compete with Gabbert for the starting job and let the best man start.
2. Jared Cook TE - He wants out of Tennessee, so why not help our selves while hurting a division rival. Bonus he's only 25 so we would get a lot out of him for years to come. Just might need to have Marcedes teach him how to block.
3. Andre Smith RT - He has already turned down an offer from the Bengals so is looking to find a pay day… open up them pockets Khan time to get your starting RT that we have desperately needed for years now.
4. Ronnie Cameron DT - With three starter level DT's on the roster already we need a young talented guy to develop up behind them. He flat out dominated in college, would love to see what Joe Cullen could do with him. I don't think Pendleton was worth the pick last year, we should have used it on Ronnie.
5. Sean Smith or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie CB - with Mathis falling off big time this year it looks as though his time is up. Time to move on and with Cox being a starter that tends to get hurt we need a veteran presence that will be effective as a starter on either side of the field. Both these guys give you that, and no Aaron Ross is not the answer.
That's it, that's all, no more than that or else we will be broke… or should I say Shahid will be broke.
2013 NFL Draft
Once again in effort to save confusion and griping I will skip over my draft board of players and just give you the rundown of what I would draft and why. Firstly I don't believe we need to draft another QB, there really aren't in "franchise" QB's this year. Everyone thought Matt Barkley was that guy, he proved everyone wrong with his stellar "unfinished business" of losing more games than any USC QB I can remember. That's saying a lot considering Matt Leinart was there before him. Geno Smith is the most promising prospect, you also have to take in consideration he had one phenomenal game this year. On top of that his favorite target Stedman Bailey, has been his go to guy for a long time, I think something like 8 years don't really remember anymore where I read that. It happens with all the research ha ha. So how much of Geno's success can be credited to his security blanket, and how much was actually him.
As for our draft, there aren't any real have to have players in the top of any boards for us. Not to mention our good buddies the Buffalo Bills have openly stated they want to trade up for their QB this year. So we should take advantage of the situation while we can. I have a couple trades on here that I would do if it was up to me. Just my personal take and choices. Also thanks to the new standard Washington gave last year we know how much they will pay for that guy.
We trade our 1st round 2nd overall to Buffalo for their 1st 9th overall 2nd 41st overall 3rd 71st overall with a 2nd and 4th in 2014. Well worth the trade for us, and with Buffalo pretty set everywhere else on the team easily plausible.
We then trade down again with Miami with Jake Longs future in question and nobody else really behind Jonathan Martin they need another Tackle which gives us leverage for another trade. We trade them our now 1st 9th overall so they can get Luke Joeckel in return we get their 1st 14th overall 2nd 44th overall and 3rd 84th overall.
With all the extra picks now we can pull a Belichick and trade back in to the 1st giving our 2nd 34th overall and 3rd 84th overall to Baltimore for their 1st 26th overall.
With a 4th draft trade we give up our 5th 131st overall we got from Detroit for Mike Thomas and 7th 192nd overall to Oakland for a 4th 97th overall.
Our 2013 Draft would look like this
1)14- Dion Jordan DE
1)26- Jonathan Banks CB
2)41- Jonathan Franklin RB
2)44- Joseph Fauria TE
3)64- Brandon Jenkins DE/OLB
3)71- EJ Manuel QB
4)96- Tavarres King WR
4)97- Michael Buchanan DE
5)128- Kiko Alonso MLB
6)160- Justice Cunnigham TE
Finishing off the draft and making improvements all around we look to make some more through UnDrafted Free Agency. We do pretty well each year with this. It's pretty sad that for the tenure of Gene Smith most of our kept players have made the roster this way. At least they are here and performing, and doing so at an affordable price. My list for this is pretty good I think, I had to do some digging to find information on some of these guys beyond CBSSports and NFL Draft Scout. What I did find I liked a lot.
TJ Moe WR Missouri
Mark Jackson OT Glenville State
Mike Shanahan TE Pitt
Aaron Dobson WR Marshall
Aaron Hester DB UCLA
Adam Hall SS Arizona
Michael Clay OLB Oregon
Kyle Long OT Oregon
Christine Michael RB Texas A&M
Benny Cunnigham RB Middle Tennessee
Now I know it's anybody's guess who will or won't be drafted, but most these guys are either projected as UDFA or not even listed some places. Most big boards they are in the 250+ range, which I take as undrafted. That could change come closer to draft time, and after pro days and the combine. A couple of these guys might not even go to the combine being underclassmen. The main most grabs are Aaron Dobson, Michael Clay, Mark Jackson, and both the RB's. We need as many new bodies in these positions that we can get. Lets just face it, we have a serious lack of depth right now.
Now that all that's said here's my projected 75 man roster.
Projected 75 Man
Sean Smith or DRC
Getting to 53
Trades to get out of bad Gene Smith deals.
Chad Henne - simply because Matt Moore is much better than Henne, and funny how he would take his spot on two teams.
Laurent Robinson - too fragile and not productive enough, with Shorts coming on strong and Blackmon solidified as the starters we have a abundance of young talented receivers behind them he is now expendable.
Aaron Ross - not as productive as his price tag, with the emergence of Mike Harris and Wiliam Middleton he becomes expendable.
Position Battles of Interest
WR- With just Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts being the only set in stone starters in this position, and drafting Tavarres King to come in behind them. We have 3 spots left after that for the young talented guys to prove their selfs worth keeping. My front runners being Toney Clemons and Aaron Dobson would bring us to 5 with the last spot if we choose to go with 6 being the hardest fought battle in camp.
HB- Mojo coming in to his final year of his contract we either need to have a replacement ready or reward him based on his play. I see this year shaping out to be very similar to Fred Taylors last few years with Mojo sharing the load almost 50-50 with whoever wins out. Who will he share the load with? Jonathan Franklin started last season being the NCAA leading rusher through 6 or 7 weeks, proved his ability to be an every down back and a home run hitter. After that it's going to be interesting to see iwho wins out between the rest. I think Christine Michael would win out, Parmele as good as he was for us will lose his roster spot and Benny Cunningham makes practice squad. With this what was a ongoing dilemma last year becomes a huge strength again.
OT- I see Eugene Monroe and Andre Smith starting at the two tackle positions with Cameron Bradfield staying as the backup. If we take a 4th it will be hard for Whimper to beat Long or Jackson. With either Long or Jackson taking the 4th the other lands on practice if not both.
DE- What was suppose to be a strong group on our team last year proved to be lackluster for the most part. I don't see any one who is set in stone to be here next year. Mincey should be back and I would guess that Babin is staying too seeing how he is the only one that has proven effective. I like Andre Branch and would like to see him add some muscle to be more effective. Add in 1st round pick Dion Jordan to come in and get pressure immediately (being used similar to Aldon Smith first year) that leaves 2 active roster spots left. I wouldn't be surprised to see Ryan Davis make it after being coached up an entire season by Cullens. The battle then becomes between Lane Buchanan and Chick for the last active spot. It might even be Lane and Chick that win out and Davis and Buchanan go to practice squad. I think either Lane or Chick will be cut though to make room for younger guys that haven't had a chance yet.
OLB- With just Darryl Smith the only given here it's wide open competition for every man available here. Julian Stanford most assuredly will get a spot back, he has proven his self worth the spot and is still getting better. Russell Allen has played great his entire time being here and you got to love a guy that punishes himself for making mistakes. Michael Clay should win out the last active spot, he was all over the field making plays in Oregon in coverage, blitzing, and stuffing the run. With the way Oregon runs the ball I would hope practicing against that everyday he is an excellent run stopper, something we struggled with this year big time. Brandon Jenkins might need a little more time to heal up all the way and can be IR'ed right away and save for next year or put in to practice squad with Brandon Marshall being the odd man out.
S- This being another somewhat issue for us Lowery and Landry have made a pretty good tandem, just when they are off the field it goes downhill fast. Antwon Blake is all but assured a spot with his superb special teams play. Prosinski has proven to be a miss and I see him being cut with Hall or Hester making the last spot the loser of the battle going to practice squad.
53 man Roster
Ryan Davis/Michael Buchanan
Adam Hall/Aaron Hester
Aaron Hester/Adam Hall
Michael Buchanan/Ryan Davis