Sorry for the delay on this folks, but it's been a bit of a crazy time for me. After two weeks exploring Spain, I finally returned to the US. 11 months later, ten spent in Israel as I've mentioned before , it's... different being back in the States.
Personal sidestories aside, we're here to take a look at the arguments made by KJones407 in his "Pro" article stating the Jaguars would win more than 8 games in the 2012-13 season. I'll be addressing each point and offering a reasoned rebuttal and he will do the same for my arguments in my "Con" article.
So, let's get to it.Point #1: KJones' first point was that the hiring of Mularkey and the structure of the coaching staff would be a big factor in the Jaguars' success in the upcoming season.
Personally, I find this point very subjective. The value of a head coach is a subject that has been debated often by so many different people it's incredible. I personally side with our old friend Vic Ketchman that "coaches coach and players play." Also in Vic's mentality was the idea that a Head Coach doesn't even coach much, that he is a figurehead and a leader. Because of this, I'm not sure what I can say to address this point at all.
An NFL Head Coach is like Schrodinger's cat. He's simultaneously dead and alive. A famous example, if the Patriots get that 4th and 2 against the Colts, Belichick's decision to go for it would have been genius. But because it failed he was belittled and insulted by a majority of people (including me) for taking such a huge risk with the game on the line.
All this is to say that the new coaching staff will absolutely help the Jaguars... unless it doesn't. And we have no way of knowing if it will or won't. I can't really say more than that. All I can do is commend you for your optimism, KJones.
Point #2: Another point about coaching, KJones claims that keeping Mel Tucker and Joe Cullen means continuity on the defensive side of the ball, and that continuity "bode[s] well for and improved performance from the entire unit." He then goes on to state that "The defense having similar... play from last year will be huge for us."
I agree that it is important for the team to get a similar performance from the defense. However, I do not see it as a given. Our defense played exceptionally well last year. However, since then things have changed. We lost two big, veteran presences at DE in Matt Roth and Aaron Kampman and replaced them with a rookie who was recently deemed "a guaranteed bust" elsewhere on the internet. While calling Andre Branch a "guaranteed" bust has to be the worst hyperbole ever in the history of the universe, it does not bode well for that DE spot to replace a respected veteran with a guy who is already being doubted.
I'm not saying the defense won't perform, but it certainly should not be an assumption in the NFL, which as we all know is a year-to-year sport.
Point #3: The third point made was regarding Blaine Gabbert. In it, KJones claims that all the issues around Gabbert have been addressed, and that he couldn't very well do worse than he did last year. To quote, "If it was possible he could've won two or three more games last year,... imagine what he'll be able to do this year."
This point, I would like to point out, points to no concrete indicators that Gabbert himself will improve. If he doesn't improve, and the Jaguars do in fact boast the 34th best starting QB out of 32 teams, it wouldn't matter who you put at receiver, the passing game won't be successful.
Personally, I believe that Gabbert and the receivers share blame for what happened last year. Yes, receivers didn't finish their routes and had more drops than they should have, but the passing game is a timing and comfort thing.
If, as a receiver, you don't know where the ball will be, how can you run your routes with confidence? If every other ball is high or low or in front or behind, how can you put yourself in the right position to make a catch? Gabbert's inaccuracy was as much a part of the failings of the passing game as the receivers and more of a problem than the blocking, which wasn't terrible like some seem to think.
Point #4: The 4th and final point made my KJones is that the offense around Blaine Gabbert has improved. For now, I'll assume that Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars' clear best player will play in all 16 games this year even though he's holding out. Given that MJD does play, then I agree with KJones' point: The offense around Gabbert is improved.
However, the NFL is a quarterback-centric league. If you don't have a passable quarterback, you cannot compete. My proof for this statement comes in the form of the 2011-12 Colts. The 2010 Colts, with Peyton Manning, was a 10-6 team. Peyton was replaced by Dan Orlovsky and Curtis Painter in 2011 and the team wins 2 games.
As I'm sure Kanye would say in this situation: having a quarterback isn't everything, not having one is.
So, there we are. Consider your four main points rebutted, KJones. To rehash my points:
1: Coaches coach and players play, and judging coaches is subjective and only really possible in hindsight.
2: Counting on a top 6 performance from a defensive unit that has had change and/or injury to a major player at every level is iffy at best.
3: Improving the players around Gabbert does nothing to ensure that Gabbert himself will improve, and
4: In the current NFL, the team goes as the quarterback goes and, as stated in #3, there is no clear indication that Gabbert will be good enough to lead the team more than 8 wins.
As we stated before, KJones will have one more chance to speak in support of his points. Best of luck to you, sir, and go Jaguars!