After following the team through the draft and preseason and now the first three games, I am forming some thoughts. Maybe you agree, maybe not. I am interested in your comments, well most of your comments. Here are my ideas to date...
The offensive line looked better against Houston than I thought they would. A good offensive line allowed David to get comfortable and the receivers didn't look as mediocre. I don't know what is really happening but I trust Andy Heck, the Offensive line coach, and believe this is the true rebuilding needed. If the line forms as a unit, we are a minimum .500 team (maybe not this year but going forward it looks promising).
Speaking of the offensive line, where is Tra Thomas? After an absolute standout performance in training camp, where did he go? On the pass to Mike Sims-Walker to the one yard line, Mario Williams had beaten Tra and had a bead on David. I am guessing Tra is limited somehow. He was an eligible receiver on one play. Now that is interesting. Hope he is ok.
Quentin Groves seems to be finding his way to be useful faster than Derrick Harvey. Quentin seems to find a way to get into the play. Derrick hasn't found his way on to the stat sheet yet. What a huge mistake trading the entire draft away for him was. Even if he develops, he won't match the performance of guys who could have been taken at 21 or 17 or whatever our draft position was.
We all love Derek Cox, but he is the reason we are worse on pass defense this year over last year. Like it or not, Greg Williams did produce a defense that was decent, not great last year. Derek Cox is someone we all believe will get better. When he does, this defense will become a top 10 defense. Until he does, we need the offensive line to improve to keep the defense off the field. Derek just seems to have all the talent and brains needed, so I look forward to him developing.
Speaking of Greg Williams, he is doing a standout performance in New Orleans. Wow, what a team they have. It is interesting they have the offensive fire power they have and Reggie Bush isn't mentioned. I think Greg Williams is a good coach but it was wrong for Jack to hire him. Last year's chemistry issues were more coaches not getting along than player issues. Jack should not have hired Greg. It wasn't a marriage that could last from the start.
Having said that, I think I like the new defensive philosophy of disguise. Are we a 3-4 defense or a 4-3 defense or are we two two two flavors in one? I think the defensive strategy did a lot to keep Peyton Manning from scoring more points. Something is going on in our defensive coaching that is new. I don't think anyone understands it yet but it is interesting.
Having said that, I still think Ted Monochino is taking up a coaching spot without doing any coaching. He might be the worst hire in Jack's career.
I know Jack Del Rio has a following in Jacksonville but I fail to see it. As a coach he might understand football, as a public figure, he doesn't have a clue how to work a fan base. He comes across as either ignorant or arrogant when interviewed. His comments on not caring about the fans frustration and closing down the David Garrard radio program were media blunders on a top level. I don't care if you think he is right or not, you don't call a guy three minutes before he goes on the air and "strongly suggest" he not do the program. In my opinion David came across as the more mature person. Jack needs to show results on the field, he certainly isn't a Bobby Bowden with the masses.
I do like this team but I don't enjoy the home games like I used to. I remember coming just in time for a Monday Night game last year and the place was packed and full of excitement. That feeling of a crowded stadium with everyone either cheering or holding their breath or even booing is part of the live game experience. An empty stadium doesn't have the same feel. It is still better to see the game live than on television. I don't care what anyone says about big screen HDTV, the stadium is the only way to really understand how the game went.
Looking around the league, the linebackers as a draft class are holding up real well. All of the teams who drafted linebackers in the first and second round are playing them and reaping benefits. The offensive linemen are not showing that same return on investment yet. Jason Smith and Andre Smith haven't found the field yet and Michael Oher isn't living up to first round status. I don't think Eugene Monroe has gotten off to a good start either, but he is playing and developing. We won't remember the first three games if his last 8 are fantastic. So does anyone think ESPN will apologize for suggesting Michael Crabtree should have been our draft choice? What a head case he turned out to be.
So are the Jaguars the best NFL team in Florida? How much farther could the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have fallen? Are they going to repeat their 0-16 season? So how does Byron Leftwich win the Quarterback battle and by game 4 end up as the third string emergency QB option? Did Gene steal Luke McCown from them? I am beginning to think so. I don't wish David any bad luck, but would love to see Luke play sometime this season.
I don't know if anyone is following this but Justin Durant is playing linebacker as well as anyone in the league right now. He is tied for 8th in tackles. Interesting to note, so is Mike Peterson. Justin is a MLB and Mike Pete is an OLB. Mike Pete and Justin Durant would make a great pair on the field together. Daryl Smith is no slouch either and we might have the makings of a pro-bowl group of linebackers right now. I know this, no one is making it to the corner running the ball anymore.
One last item. There is no one on this team I am happier to see than Torry Holt. He was an absolute outstanding free agent aquisision. He is changing the make up of this team in a very quiet way. I can't wait to see Jarret Dillard play. He has been hugging Torry since camp and I think he has some football in him.