So guys, this is my first fan-post here on BCC.
I won't profess to actually know what I'm talking about or having any kind of special insights, I'm writing this article primarily because I'm bored and I really just want the season to start.
Sometimes getting your thoughts out through your fingers helps you organize your thoughts and if someone out there would read this article and enjoy it - jubilations!
Let's talk about me, though not too much. My name is Kristian, I'm Danish, I live in Brazil with my wife and my cat and I've been a Jaguars fan since.. I dunno.. I used to smoke a lot of weed... Let's say the early 2000's.. .
I'm going to go through every position on the Jaguars roster. I've used several articles from profootballfocus.com and BCC to try and evaluate needs and future possibilities. I hope you'll enjoy it...
The Jaguars have stunk the last couple of years and most blame Blaine. While it's fair to say that Blaine hasn't met expectations there are many cogs in the machine that is an NFL offense.
QB: Blaine has really taken a lot of flak for being craven, checking down and even for blaming his teammates for his failures, earning him the moniker "Blame Gabbert". How much of that is fair critique?
According to PFF Gabbert was behind the 30th worst pass-blocking line and according to T. Kahn, Gabbert is in the top third of QBs when given more than 2.6 seconds to throw. According to PFF the highest average in the league per drop-back last year was R. Wilson who had 3.14 seconds to throw. That's huge. The average time a QB in the league had was around 2.65 seconds. Half a second more than Gabbert needs to be efficient.
As to the checking down, I'm pretty sure has was instructed by the previous coaching staff to play safe. Mularkey often emphasized cutting down on mistakes and limiting turn-overs. Difficult to do with an average of 2.58 seconds. Especially when you're new to the system and have only played 1 season in the NFL.
This is however his last chance to get going, if he fails the Jags will be drafting high next year and they will be drafting QB.
Chad Henne is probably going to be backing up Blaine. I hope I'll never see him throw again. With Blaine there might be a future, with Chad, what you see is what you barf.
The third string spot is going to be open competition. My money is on Rodgers. Why? Because I don't know neither Rodgers or Matt that well, but from what I've heard paupers'-Rodgers is looking better than Matt.
HB: MJD is the starter, that is certain, but how good will he be this year? I hate to doubt Jones-Drew, especially since he has made a career out of proving people wrong. However, he has had a lot of health issues lately and he has a lot of miles on him. If he comes back and is MJD as we know him we're set, if not.... well.. errhm...
Let's see... Justin Forsett is a solid, change of pace backup. He has a solid career average of 4.87 per carry. Denard Robinson is exciting and I love his attitude towards playing football, if Tebow had had the same attitude towards getting on the field I'm sure teams would be willing to pick him up; having Tebow, Denard and MJD could be awesome. Splitbacks with Denard and MJD at HB and Tebow at TE, Denard at HB and Tebow at FB, MJD at HB with Tebow at FB and Denard at WR - run screen to Denard - possibilities would be endless.
Let's imagine (may the ancient gods of the north forbid it) that MJD goes down with another injury and we start Forsett with Denard spelling him. Most teams would probably be happy with that setup.
Now, you should never rely on 5th round picks to do anything their first season, but DR at RB seems to be a mtach made in Nirvana. All in all HB seems to be a position of strength for the Jags.
WR: WHY JUSTIN WHYYYYYY???? Still, even with the Justin "Trollface" Blackmon suspension, seriously that guy will never win any beauty contests, WR seems to be yet another solid position group for the Jags..
Certain problems will scream at you though... CSIII has concussion issues, Shipley is only any good in the slot, MoMass, who will probably start in place of JB during his 4-game suspension, is an unproven commodity and Ace Sanders, while perhaps a decent return guy, will take time to mature into a NFL receiver.
Wide-receiver might be a strong group, but to me it seems like a glass-hammer.
FB: It's good that fullback is not an overly important position, because we have nothing at fullback. Well.. Depending on what you want your fullback to do. If the plan is to use fullback as a runner/receiver then we're golden, if we need him to block we're screwed. Montell is a running back, playing fullback and a good special teamer, I don't think he's even cleared to play yet, going down with a knee issue last year. Ta'ufo'ou is a borderline player, bouncing between the active roster and practice squad like so many polybutadiene rubber toy balls. Lonnie Pryor (UDFA) is a taller leaner Owens, a good receiver as well, but ask him to block and he'll fold like a Frenchman.
TE: Beside Marcedes Lewis we have very little. Bodies have been signed and Ryan Otten (Yet another UDFA) appears to be the odds-on favorite to grab the 2nd spot. It's great that the Jags "got all the best UDFA's in a deep draft hum hum hum", but having so many rookies, that no-one else cared to draft, is like standing on the edge of a active volcano while feeling perfectly safe because you brought an umbrella.
I fully expect Caldwell to bring in another vet before training camp... And no... Allen Reisner doesn't even begin to count..
The Jaguars offensive the last couple of years has been... Well.. Offensive.. As in "freedom of speech is awesome, but they really should censor this bull-****". According to PFF, Jaguars had the 29th ranked offensive line. 30th pass-blocking, 25th run-blocking and 13th in penalties. In other words: It could be worse, but not much.
LT: Eugene Monroe is a stud, not only our highest rated player on the offensive line, but the highest rated player on the offense.. Luke Joeckel could play left tackle should Monroe go down with an injury, but that would leave a gaping maw at RT.
RT: Luke Joeckel was drafted to play right tackle and I expect him to do well in that role. Depth is an issue here. Cameron Bradfield and Will Rackley should never be counted on for anything.. They need time to grow, so let's hope we can give them that.
Guards: Uche Nwaneri is solid and still have a few years left in the tank. I have no idea what we're gonna do at right guard... Mike Brewster might develop, but last year way too much was asked of him. He was the worst rated player on the team at -20.7. That's bad. Caldwell must bring in more competition here.
Center: Resigning Brad Meester takes care of that, right? According to PFF he was the 10th most overpaid player on the roster and we reward him with another contract. Meester is a pro, he's serviceable and a leader. But we should have a better backup in place. The aforementioned guards will have to cover for the still injured Jason Spitz.
The Jaguars defense had a down-year last season after a somewhat inflated performance the year before. While it's safe to assume that they'll at least be marginally better next year, you probably shouldn't expect a top-ten performance this year. There are too many holes to fill and while the draft haul this year looks good for the backfield, you can't simply assume that rookies will come in and fix everything.
Cornerbacks: We "lost" our top-three guys from last year, but considering their performance and injury issues, we're probably better off. Gratz, picked 64th overall, looks to start with Kevin Rutland, Atweaun Molden, and Mike Harris look to compete for the second spot and Caldwell brought in Alan Ball (Dallas) to add even more competition. The sad truth is that all of these players are really only good enough to compete for a third string spot on any other team.
The competition for roster spots at CB will be interesting to watch, but the result might end up being depressing.
The CB spot looks to be at least a year away from being truly competitive, but looking a season ahead when some of these players have matured a bit more and perhaps adding another day 2 pick to the bunch, the position will be solid.
Safeties: I love Cyprien and between him and Lowery the safety spots look... Safe.. Depth is a real concern though. Prosinski has been the subject of much ire and derision, but I think he'll make the roster. He has talent and needs more time to grow being only 26, too much has been asked of him in the past. Josh Evans provides some intriguing depth, but again, like Prosinski, he'll need time.
If Cyprien or Lowery go down to injuries, it could spell disaster...
Linebackers: Ugh... just... ugh... There's nothing here.. Posluszny is a good player, but overrated and overpaid, I really like him as a leader and an all-round good guy though.
Russel Allen, Geno Hayes... The linebacker corp is woefully depleted and I truly hope that it'll get addressed before training camp. You can always hope that a guy like Maalik Bomar will step up and be awesome, but again, banking on UDFA's to provide immediate impact is slightly naïve..
RDE/Elephant: Austen Lane and Andre branch are probably the front-runners here, both capable but fringe starters.
I'd really like to see us trying to put Alualu out on the edge. Coach Bradley like to overload the right-side, which gives more wiggle room for his LEO who will line up further to the left than normal. Jeremy Mincey could also play here, he had a down year last year after being overpaid and it remains to be seen whether he can be the disruptive player the Jaguars envisioned him to be. I'm slightly intrigued by Paul Hazel, the UDFA out of Western Michigan, but there's no way he should be starting.
LDE/LEO: The LEO position has received much hype and here Jason Babin looks to be the starter. Jeremy Mincey could also play here, having a very similar build to Babin when it comes to height and weight. The competition for both RDE and LDE is going to be fierce and seeing how Bradley will want to line up his personnel is going to be interesting.
DT: I really wish we'd have kept C.J. Mosley but alas! He's now a Lion. Terrance Knightly is also gone and what's left is rather underwhelming. Roy Miller, D'Anthony Smith and Jeris Pendleton are capable backups, but I don't like the idea of them starting. The utter lack up depth will probably mean that Alualu will start at DT, an experiment that hasn't gone as well as could have been hoped for a top-ten pick. The UDFA T.J. Barnes looks promising (that man is huuuuuge), but again.. There's a reason these guys weren't picked...
Caldwell, wisely, gutted the roster and coaching staff and started rebuilding from scratch. That's the way to do it.
Unfortunately there was no Robert Griffin or Andrew Luck in this draft class to mask the holes on the roster.
The front office did a good job trying to get better immediately without signing a bunch of aging FA's and picking guys that not only fit scheme-wise, but where also good value at the position of the pick.
Caldwell was also rather fortunate that this year's UDFA class was pretty strong and he managed to get some potentially good players there. They will provide depth but I pray to my cat that they will not have to start.
This looks like a 3 year job. If you're building a skyscraper and you lay a good foundation, that's a good way to start.
It's the only way to start.
Still, if you have to live in the skyscraper when only the foundation is laid, you're gonna get wet when it rains. You might have build a little camp-site, using plastic tarps to keep the worst weather away, but it's still gonna suck.
Our hope is that bad coaching and bad schemes had part of the blame for last year's implosion and that players who were bad/not good enough last year, will be more reliable this year.
I will take 6 victories his season and call it an amazing result, I'll take 4 victories and give it a passing grade.
Less than 4 victories is unfortunately somewhat likely, but hey - next year's draft looks top heavy, so let's continue rebuilding!
I hope that if you read this, you enjoyed it. Excuse me if my English is not perfect; it's my second language after all..
Perhaps this'll be a case of TLDR for your, that's OK too.. I tend to ramble..
Until next time... If there'll be one..
Kristian B. Bach