The Jock

by Tom Weppel

And so here we are, after another off-season, as we begin the 15th season of Jaguars football. Where has the time gone?!?!
As with any off-season, there have been changes, in the Jaguars personnel primarily, both on and off the field. The main change has been in the General Manager position, as James ‘Shack’ Harris was replaced by Gene Smith. Smith has been with the organization for quite a while in various duties, and now he moves into a big seat, in being one of the main guys, if not THE main guy, to determine who will be on the roster.
Obviously, in the past few years, the roster decisions Harris had made were not the best. The team overall was not very personable, and there were problems off the field that contributed to a fairly negative character image that had developed. That doesn’t even touch the fact the Jags were 5-11 last year, and as you know, football fans in THIS area essentially expect their football team to win. And so now Gene Smith, along with Wayne Weaver, Jack Del Rio, and coaches and scouts, have done a lot of work in deciding who they signed and-or drafted. And with that said, its now time to see how these guys will now start to gel during Training Camp and preseason.
As with all Training Camps, there are questions on the field regarding positions…who is going to do what, who is battling whom, and how will things end up at the end of the day. While most fans’ eyes will be fixed on QB David Garrard, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, and #1 draft pick OT Eugene Monroe (assuming he signs), there is one position that will certainly be in need of drawing considerable attention…wide receiver.
Gone are Reggie Williams and Matt Jones…two former first-rounders who did a few things during their Jaguar tenure, but honestly never amounted to anything even close to team expectations. And now, as we speak, we have Torry Holt, signed to play here after an 11-year a great career with the Rams, and Troy Williamson, who has shown great speed at times, but has not produced like coaches have wanted.
After that, the roster will show you Mike Walker, who did last year but was injured for a while, and then SEVEN rookies! Some, such as Mike Thomas (Arizona) and Jaret Dillard (Rice), were drafted, while others were free agent rookies. Without question, this position comes in with no depth, and very little NFL experience. To say that the dice is being rolled is quite accurate, and it will be very, very interesting to see how things evolve for the guys battling it out to catch passes.
Meanwhile, many fans will also notice that longtime Jaguar Fred Taylor is no longer here. Fred was allowed to venture off, and so he headed to New England to play for the Patriots. That means that Jones-Drew is the #1 running back, and I am sure he is very excited about the chance to become the feature back for the offense.
But there is a question as to who will be ‘the guy’ to come in and play if for some reason Maurice is not there. FB Greg Jones will be back in action after a knee injury. In the past, he has shown great potential, so it will be interesting to see how he plays in the next few weeks. Also in the backfield are Montell Owens, Alvin Pearman, and Chauncey Washington, all who have potential, but, for right now, no solid credentials.
There are other issues for this team to tackle. The Defense was not at its best last season, and so Jack Del Rio and his staff must take what they’ve got, which is not too shabby at all, and refine their approach to make sure things are in order. The only notable starter gone is DE Paul Spicer (Saints). They brought in one free agent to start, that being S Sean Considine (Eagles).
And so this Training Camp should be full of excitement, questions, and competition. There will be a lot of curiosity throughout practices, and is should be fun to watch and see how it all shakes out.