Another week another attempt at trying to visualize and explain why the Jacksonville Jaguars are still as bad as they are and why the rebuilding process is taking so long. There is a simple answer, but it sounds like a massive crutch and I'm not sure people really grasp it thus far.
Is the Jaguars coaching bad? Sure, maybe. I don't really know how we can tell definitively or not, though.
Is Gus Bradley a bad head coach? Possibly, sure. But again, I don't know.
Is Dave Caldwell the right general manager for this job? Again, I have no idea.
I do know one thing though and why this is such a long tiresome process. Remember that old adage that missing on a first round quarterback sets you back three years? How far back are you set if you miss on 22 of your 26 draft picks over a four year period? How far back are you set when you hit on just a single free agent signing over a four year period?
Here are the players that Gene Smith added to the Jaguars roster during his four year tenure, through both free agency and the draft. I didn't include trades, which would include guys like Jason Spitz, David Jones and Dwight Lowery because I couldn't find anything reliable to get that complete list. You can see here though, that even if you include those it was awful. The players tabbed with the color red are no longer on an NFL roster (Zach Miller is on IR with the Chicago Bears). The players tabbed in green are still on the Jaguars roster and the player tabbed in yellow is suspended.
As you can see, that means there are just five players left from the 39 players that Gene Smith brought on the roster from 2009 through 2012. I'm not sure words can express to you how awful that is. For comparison, here is a look at the Cincinnati Bengals draft picks during that same time period.
Should the Jaguars be better than they are right now? Yeah, probably. Should the Jaguars have more than five wins over the last 26 games? Yeah, probably. That would have required Caldwell to hit on virtually every player he signed though, considering just what little he had to work with when he took over. Similar to the free agent/draft chart above, this was the final Jaguars roster of the 2012 season.
That means that there are 20 players from the 2012 final active roster that are no longer on an NFL roster. Most of them aren't old, either. Then, the players that ended up on injured reserve make up another 10 players who are not longer in the NFL. The Jaguars have just 11 players still on the roster from 2012 and most of the ones who are not and still in the league are mediocre starters/depth at best. Sure, Terrance Knighton and Daryl Smith are still playing well, but outside of that it's just a bunch of guys.
How do you fix that quickly? This seems to be the big sticking point with a lot of fans. It's tough to swallow because the team was slowly getting worse and then the bottom fell out in 2012.
Personally, I get it. I had zero expectations this year as far as the win/loss record, and for the most part this is about what I expected (performance on the field-wise). The Jaguars started to be a bit more competitive and were in games, but I don't know if they just hit a wall or what the past two weeks.
I'm done telling people they have to be patient, because well... at the heart of it all we're all fans and we want to win. I get it. I know what they're doing and I understand how tough of a task it is. This is still the team that Gene Smith "built" and they're still figuring out how to dig themselves out of that massive hole.
I've tried to explain the situation, it sounds like a bunch of excuses, but the reality is what it is. Hopefully the visuals help hammer it home.