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The Three Mistakes the Jaguars Made

Draft selection by committee.

In everything I read and heard, Shack Harris was a very nice and polite man. Friends of mine played golf with him on occasion and what he did speak about showed his heart and compassion for players and the others in the organization. Even though he had the final say, he wanted consensus draft selections or move on to a different person. That was a failing and here is why.

I remember being newly married and my wife and I tried to do everything together. When we watched television, I couldn't pick Xena Warrior Princess because she didn't like the show. I could never sit through a home makeover show if I tried. The end result was we watched something neither of us wanted to see so that we didn't offend the other.

The scouting department and the GM spend all their time looking at players and  need to be passionate about their jobs, not be inhibited by worrying about a personality feud with the coaching staff. If the GM and scouting staff pick bad players, then replace them. All coaches want final say over player selections, very few should have it. The consensus approach is polite and leads to a decent draft but it rarely leads to home runs.

Gene Smith needs to lock Jack Del Rio out of the draft room.

The Pollyanna approach to players

Matt Jones never played wide receiver in his life. Some scouts thought he would be a great tight end, what a joke that was. Matt Jones hates contact. He is a fabulous athlete who can make it at the highest level, but he was never developed to be a star wide receiver. Michael Crabtree caught 231 passes in his two seasons at Texas Tech, Matt caught 2 at Alabama. If you want a receiver, draft a receiver, don't try to make one. As the saying goes... never try to teach a pig to sing, it only irritates you and frustrates the pig.

Derrick Harvey is an amazing star athlete who excelled because of his natural ability. He played two years of football in high school and three years in college. In five years of football he was never trained as a defensive end, he came with no technique, just a bull rush. Trading up for Derrick Harvey was an investment in the long term that needs to be brought along carefully. Derrick Harvey needs a good teacher. To count on him to be a star in his first year was beyond hope, it was futile.

Drayton Florence was on the bench in the AFC West where no team can play defense. Drayton Florence was not going to be a star for us in pass coverage if he wasn't a star for the Chargers. When betting on horses, the first rule is never bet a horse to do something he has never done before.

Jerry Porter was a fluid runner with good size, a great athlete. He was also benched for an entire season by a team that needed any help they could get. So a few weeks with the Jaguars was going to do what?

Mike Walker was a good college receiver. Mike Walker needed knee surgery in his senior year. No matter what anyone thinks, knee surgery usually requires two years to fully recover. Drafting a player in his first year of recovery and then watching him go down again as he pushed to make the team shouldn't have been a surprise, it should have been expected. . As Reggie Williams proved, a receiver recovering from knee surgery is not a good bet to place in the lineup. Understanding injured athletes seems to be missing in the Jaguar organization.

The Jaguars fall in love with the measurables in athletes and then look past all of the risks. I don't know who is responsible for this Pollyanna approach, but it has to end and guys that show they can play football need to join the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Blowing apart the Team Chemistry.

In 2007 Jack Del Rio had his dream, an unselfish team, there for each other and an over-achieving atmosphere. What happened? Jack got to cash in big for the results, David cashed in big, Derrick Harvey arrived with a big salary, Jerry Porter arrived with a big salary, and Drayton Florence arrived with a big salary. Jack threw a big lavish party for his foundation in the middle of the season. The rest of the peons (who delivered all the results) can just be quiet or get replaced. Anyone opening their month can go home right now, we don't need you.  Just like in third grade, we've rearranged your lockers. Wow, and who expected this attitude to deliver good results? How was this unselfish team approach demonstrated in real life?    

Team chemistry is an art to do it right. The Jaguars did it completely wrong in 2008.

Wayne Weavers response.

Wayne Weaver strikes me as a smart, generous and kind-hearted man who expects results. He sees what I just wrote about. His response is:

• Gene Smith has sole drafting responsibility
• Gene Smith has sole player keep or go responsibility
• Gene Smith has total control over player salaries
• Cautious to no free agency investment
• Jack can't fire any more assistant coaches

In short, he gave Gene Smith the keys to the car.  Gene Smith is now the driving force behind the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Gene needs to carefully consider the effect of every player addition and every contract on the entire team.  Jack Del Rio has to get back to coaching.