by Tom Weppel
While most of the off-season discussion surrounding the Jaguars has focused primarily on their situation off the field (ticket sales, attendance, etc.), the team has actually been pretty busy with what they have ON the field ready to go as well.
If there is anything definite about this years’ edition of the Jacksonville Jaguars, heading into the 2010 season, it is that there is total and complete uncertainty as to who and what these guys will be bringing to the table.
The Jags come in to this season off a 7-9 record last season, finishing the year with four consecutive losses. GM Gene Smith and head coach Jack Del Rio had to sit down and determine who they really felt good about keeping, while continuing their roster turnover from a year or so ago.
On offense, there are two names that mean everything to what these guys will do. QB David Garrard has his name planted as the starter for the Jaguars. In his couple of years at the helm, Garrard has done some decent things, but nothing really spectacular. He’s been solid enough, though, so that the team gave him a pretty healthy contract. I don’t think there’s any question the Jags have faith and confidence in him to produce and make the plays they want to have happen.
The other name you are all familiar with is running back Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD rushed for 1,391 as the feature RB for the Jags last season. Without question, they will be looking for him to be their main offensive weapon, both in running the ball and out of the backfield. He is easily the most popular player on the current roster…easily. If he gets injured during the season, look for rookie RB Deji Karim to emerge. He has shown sharp moves on the field, especially during his kickoff returns.
Garrard and Jones-Drew are the two main guys for the Jaguars offense. It will be interesting to see how they perform this year. In the meantime, the rest of the offense has been planted. The Jags have a corps of WR’s led by Walker. Look for TE Marcedes Lewis to be a main target for Garrard as well. My guess is he’ll catch a lot of balls this year. The Jags’ O-line will be anchored be two 2nd year tackles: Eugene Monroe and Eben Bitton. We’ll see how solid they work as a unit.
The main story is on the defensive front, where Jacksonville was porous in both rushing the passer and in containing the rush. Del Rio and Smith went hunting to find some guys to take care of them on the line and they did so. With the draft, the Jags used their first round choice to grab DT Tyson Alualu, then picked up veteran DL Aaron Kampman (Packers), who is coming off knee surgery. You combine that with signing Raider LB Kirk Morrison, and it should be interesting to see how the new edition of the Jags Defense will come out.
Meanwhile, they will have Daryl Smith and Justin Durant as their outside LB’s, then bring Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox in as their starting CB’s. Look for S Reggie Nelson to back up starters Anthony Smith and Gerald Alexander.
In his seven years as head coach here, Jack Del Rio is only 57-55. My feeling is fans and followers are both looking for Del Rio to produce a winner that can get into the playoffs, at the least. It might be pretty tough this season, as the AFC South looks that much more competitive. Combine that with the Jags’ schedule, which includes the NFC East, and we’ll see what the boys do for this 2010 campaign.
The Plan to Win 2010
by Tom Weppel