James Harris: Resigned to his fate
In a move that can only be described as inevitable, Vice President of Player Personnel James "Shack" Harris resigned from the Jacksonville Jaguars, effective at the completion of the 2008 season. Harris, the embattled general manager, was expected to be fired as soon as Monday. His legacy in Jacksonville, for better or for worse, is connected to Byron Leftwich, Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, Marcades Lewis, Reggie Nelson, and Derrick Harvey, as well as maligned free agent acquisition Jerry Porter. Despite our own cricitical analysis of the "Jaguars Decision" model and it's structural tendency toward failure, there would be a fall-guy for this disappointing season. When Jack Del Rio signs a 20 million dollar extension and Gene Smith receives a promotion at the expense of Harris, it's not hard to connect the dots as to who would leave the team.
His legacy, as mentioned before, is in the draft picks and free agents of the last six years, despite the hand of Del Rio and Gene Smith in each player. That the Jaguars never replaced Wide Receiver Jimmy Smith since his retirement is another cross that Shack must bear. There is an obvious failure in talent acquisition when the Jaguars have never filled out their glaring need at receiver and in pass rush despite knowing full and well going into each offseason that it's the area of most critical need.
The 2007 offseason gave the Jaguars a chance to go all-in and make a push for a division title and a deep playoff run. The front office had the hubris to claim that they would not need many draft picks as the team was "so stacked" that they would struggle to make the team. Instead the 2008 Jaguars were slow and old, especially on defense, and the pass-grace-saviors in Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves failed to provide any pressure. Jerry Porter, let's not even begin to discuss the abject failure that is Mr. Porter.
With the aggressive moves and the failure to perform on the field with the new players, James Harris became a liability, a symbol of poor decisions and the sacrificial lamb to the cult of Del Rio. Is "Shack" truly at fault for every bad decision the Jaguars made in the draft and free agency? No. Does he represent an era of poor player personnel decisions that he oversaw? Yes. Because of that fact alone, his divorce from the Jaguars is both justified and deserved. Though, if I could say something to Jack Del Rio directly: It's all on your head now!
Gene Smith, by the way, has been with the Jacksonville Jaguars since 1994. I find that fascinating. It shows, however, that this may not be the change of direction in our front office that the team needs.
Obviously we'll have more to come as this story develops.