We all had our hearts torn out on Sunday as we watched in anticipation... We had the ball and a chance to close out with a win, but came up just short. There were some major positives that stood out to me as I re-watched the game and digested the data. If you are talking about the Jaguars, you are clearly talking about a team with their arrow pointing squarely in the upright position. I'll go through each individual category of major growth and why there is reason to be excited.
Coaching - If Sunday's opener showcased one thing, it is that Jack Del Rio is a top-tier coach. I am now once again of the impression that this is the man for the job. Do you realize that in a little over a month, Jack took a group of rag-tag rookies, UDFA's, and castaways from other practice squads acquired late last year, and transformed them into the clear nucleus of our team's future. I can't say enough how impressed I was with the team's mental preparedness. This was a gang pulled together from all over, and the cohesion already present is proof enough for me that Jack is the man for the job, and he deserved his contract extension. This man can coach up youth, and that's what we need. Anyone who starts calling for his head should really re-examine the facts.
Roster - Gene Smith has gone and done it. This man is a cold-hearted mastermind, and the proof was Sunday's performance. Let's look at some interesting facts. Eight of the nine draft picks from this year made the final roster, as well as two UDFA's, and some players who were journey-men on other team's practice squads.Tyron Brackenridge exemplifies Gene's philosophy of scouting everything, and he was a steal off the Chiefs PS. It also looks like Gene hit on all four of his first draft picks, and all at key positions (DT, LT, RT, CB). To top it off, Gene literally swiped Don Carey, the Browns sixth-round pick this year, and promptly placed him on IR (jar on the shelf, anyone?). Gene lines 'em up, and Del Rio knocks 'em down... I like the way these two men compliment each other.
Special Teams - Josh Scobee is killer; he has come such a long way since the time the Jags allowed cameras into televise their training camp and he was scared to sing as a rookie. The man slays freaking dragons now... All he needed was a shot to win the game against the Colts, and I'm telling you the vampire in him would've come out. Clutch doesn't even begin to describe our kicker, and his leg leads to a ridiculous amount of touch-backs. Our return-man (UDFA, by the way), Witherspoon, is looking much thicker, and doesn't seem to have lost a step. Podlesh is looking good, and unless things change drastically, it looks like the Jags will be alright with Russ Purnell at the helm.
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Running-game - The offensive line is young, strong, and still able to move the middle of the defense. MJD showed us all that he can not only carry the load, he can damn near carry the whole team. MJD has developed into the AFC's premier pass catching RB. He's dynamic and has fantastic hands. He was worth every penny we gave him... Now, we need to ride his stumpy little legs to as many victories as we can this year.
Secondary - I know people are getting all pissy about Harvey missing time when the Jags got stuck in a 7 DB set, but take a minute and look at that sentence... Done? Good. The Jaguars now have a strong enough roster, that they actually have seven men worthy of being on the field at the DB position. Last year against the Colts (think back), we stayed in base defense with three LB's rather than putt Will James in as our Nickel. Yeah, that's how far we've come. T-Brack, Mathis, Cox, G. Alexander, Nelson, Considine, S. Starks, and Spoony. In terms of personnel, the Jaguars have a great secondary.
This team is looking good... real good. Nobody expected us to win, except us, because we know what we see with our eyes. The eyes never lie, and this is a team on the up-swing.