I am trying to prepare for the coming season and I looked back on some old articles I had written. If you don't mind, I would like to bring out some of the old stuff and provide fresh commentary. I think it helps me understand where this season is headed.
In a post from "How Lou Saban built the Electric Company" I wrote.
Hope had returned to Buffalo in 1972, Lou Saban had returned as head coach of the Buffalo Bills. He immediately began building the greatest running attack ever unleashed on the NFL.
When he arrived in 1972, he found little of the championship team he left in 1965. The team had been horribly mismanaged gaining only 13 wins in the previous 5 years. He found OJ Simpson on special teams running back kickoffs and barely used in the offense. "I believe in running the ball, basic, hard-nosed football," Saban said. "We have a great runner, a game breaker, who is a big-play athlete. I intend to use him." Lou called Jim Ringo, an offensive lineman from the Lombardi era Packers, to come and coach the line and then went off looking for talent. He called the NY Jets and traded for Dave Foley a former 1st round draft choice with three years experience. He drafted Reggie McKenzie in the second round and put him immediately in the lineup. OJ Simpson gained over 1,200 yards in 1972 and the Bills managed 4 wins. That season showed the possibility to Reggie McKenzie who began proclaiming a vision of a season no one had ever seen. Lou Saban and Jim Ringo volunteered to coach the Senior Bowl to get a firsthand look at the draft prospects. They drafted Joe DeLamielleure in the first round. They traded with the New England Patriots for guard Mike Montler and told him he was the new starting center. Jim Ringo gathered the new offensive line, McKenzie, Foley, Montler, DeLamielleure, and tackle Donnie Green, and had them hit the blocking sled until they dropped every day. Training camp was brutal as told by Reggie McKenzie.
The 1973 season was ready. Reggie McKenzie continued to talk about the 2,000 yard season, but after the Bills lost all six preseason games, hope diminished. It was good that the first game was away at the New England Patriots. When the Bills offensive line ripped off 360 yards rushing with Simpson gaining 250, people began to believe. By mid-season the Bills offensive line had accumulated 1,528 yards rushing and Simpson was over 1,000. On the last game of the year everyone tuned in. Simpson needed 61 yards to break Jim Brown's single season record and 197 to hit 2,000. Reggie McKenzie guaranteed it.
When the season was over, the statistics were unbelievable, over 3,000 yards rushing, 220 yards per game, 6 yards per attempt. OJ Simpson had 2,003 yards and 143 yards per game. 35 years later, the average per game records still stand, no one has come close. Only the 1978 New England Patriots put up more rushing yards in one year, only the second team to ever generate 3,000+ rushing. The Bills won 9 games that year.
Commentary: Gene Smith signed Maurice Jones Drew to a long term contract, picked up Tra Thomas in free agency and then drafted Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton in the draft. Andy Heck is the offensive line coach, the greatest coach on the Jaguar team right now. Jack Del Rio volunteered to coach the Senior Bowl. Training camp should be, better be, as brutal as anything on record. Will history repeat itself? Is Maurice Jones Drew poised to put up a 1973 OJ Simpson year? I would pick MJD up right now in any fantasy league you have.
In a post named "Where Jack should evaluate" I wrote this:
We can all offer opinions on what should be done, but sometimes facts point to a different solution. Let's focus on defense for a moment. When a defense takes the field it seeks to minimize the opponents yards gained. A good defense stops the opposing offense from going anywhere. The fewer yards allowed, the fewer points. Not all points scored in a game are the defense's fault, but all offensive yards are.
In a season, there are 256 games played with 256 wins and 256 losses. In the 2005 season, the 256 winning teams' defense allowed an average of 291 yards. The 256 losing teams defense allowed an average of 341 yards. 50 yards a game on average decided victory or defeat, these statistics are remarkable consistent year over year.
2005 winners allowed 291 yards, losers allowed 341. 2006 winners allowed 298 yards, losers allowed 345. 2007 winners allowed 296 yards, losers allowed 353. First half of 2008, winners allowed 290 yards, losers allowed 359. In short, when your defense is allowing 300 yards a game or less, you are probably in the playoff hunt. If you are allowing 350 yards or more, you are probably sitting home watching. Exceptions exist, but not many.
Commentary: The Jaguars didn't do much to improve the defense. They did choose not to bring Greg Williams back and hired Casper the friendly ghost as Defensive Coordinator. Does Mel Tucker know where the practice facility is? Has anyone seen him recently? So we don't know what will happen except Derek Cox looks to me to be the real deal at corner. I would consider starting him except Jack Del Rio, in a brilliant move, has already announced Brian Williams as the first string corner
Overall summary: I think Dirk Kotter has been given everything he needs to succeed. I expect David to have a great year and the offense to look much better. At least they better look better or something is really wrong.
I think we are sending the same defense as last year out there except Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves have a year under their belt and a lot of veterans are gone. Will Derrick and Quentin carry the day on the line? I don't know. Will the secondary improve? I doubt it, unless Derek is truly a shut down corner and Reggie learns to read the play.
All in all, we will have some excitement this year on offense and some disappointments on defense.
But to be very honest, I really think this is the last year for Jack Del Rio. I think Mike Tice is named interim coach before the year is over. We are going to be improving and next year the draft will include a lot of great defensive players. The Jaguars are coming back, just not with Jack as head coach. That is how I see it right now.