When (if) MJD returns, he may well reassume his role as the Jaguars' best player, their most exciting presence on the field, their lone Pro Bowl representative. But he won't reassume the role of team leader; that mantle has moved on. But to whom?On a team universally viewed as being devoid of star power (excluding MJD), who among the Jags veterans, rookies and newcomers possesses the football ability, the leadership skills, the aura to be the face of the franchise?
Let's take a look.
Special teams: Scobee, Owens, Anger. One Pro Bowler, two with pretty potential to be. Ummm... If you thought the perception of the Jags was poor so far, try have someone who kicks the ball being the face of the franchise. Owens, as good as he is, has no shot at team leader. (5 points if you caught the Pro Bowl error above)
Defense: the best player on defense (D Smith) is virtually unknown and unrecognized outside Duval County and profootballfocus.com. Plus he's too quiet, and nice, not nasty enough (hello Drew Brees). D-line is young (even old man Mincey is only a 6 yr vet) and inconsistent. If Branch gets 15-20 sacks, he can make a name for himself. Name a D-line face of the franchise. Mean Joe Green. Anyone else? Reggie, maybe. Keep looking. DBs? Mathis had his chance. Cox might grow into the role. Overall, it's a solid group with a chance to become very, very good. There are certainly leaders on defense, leaders of the defense, but not a face of the franchise team leader.
Offense: MoJo... No. His me-first holdout at a time when a true team leader would have been there helping set the new course for the franchise has eliminated him from ever regaining the title. He might continue to be face of the franchise on nflnetwork or in florio's blog, but he won't be in the huddle. Jennings? Very good, with even very gooder potential. But no.
O-line: umm, what? (that includes TEs)
Wideouts: we have potential here. Blackmon and Shorts. Robinson will be a nice addition, but he'll be overtaken by the other two. The ceiling is very high in those two. However, Shorts, no matter how much he grows, will remain a contributor, not the team leader.
That leaves QB: Let me start by saying I don't believe Henne will become the face of the franchise. I read somewhere that Gabbert had a rough rookie year. I also read somewhere that some person who did some really great things didn't do them all the first time he tried. I forget who that was, but you might be able to think of his (or was it her?) name. Anyway, I'm one of those who think Gabbert will get better. A lot better. A whole way lot better. The best on earth!!! He'll make people forget about butter, sliced bread, the Magna Carta, and Doogie Howser.
So there you have it. Blaine Gabbert is now the leader of this team and the face of the franchise. It happened sooner than most thought and certainly not in the manner anticipated. But he's it, regardless. The longterm core of this team Blackmon, Shorts, Rackley, Branch, Knighton and Cox... Led by Gabbert.
The King is dead. Long live the King.