The idea that the team’s star player, Maurice Jones-Drew, is not in camp, sulking over his contract, and the fact that first-round draft choice Justin Blackmon is unsigned, kind of puts a damper on the possibility of great things to come this NFL preseason heading into the 2012 regular season.
If you look at the Jaguars offseason since February, it could be viewed as a nightmare at Everbank Field.
The Jaguars lost out on the Tim Tebow trade to the New York Jets, did not land a top flight pass rusher in free agency, had their best defensive lineman go down with an eye injury and had their stud running back demand another contract with two years remaining on the current deal.
Take into account their top draft pick was arrested for DUI and other key components of the defensive line are still recuperating from injuries or surgery and there is a new coaching staff and new owner on board and a score card maybe needed to keep everything in line.
Thank goodness the team was able to sign kicker Josh Scobee to a long term deal and get the all- important “weapon” in punter Bryan Anger, the teams third-round draft choice to be a “starter” because we all know the entire 2012 draft depends on his success, sans Blackmon or defensive end Andre Branch.
Just a little levity there for those who needed it.
What if the Jones-Drew situation remains an eyesore or distraction for this team? With only five wins in the books for 2011, the Jaguars needed to come into camp firing on all cylinders. This meant the star player, who was the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,606 yards last year, needed to be all smiles and handshakes. There needed to be more of sense of urgency to make him happy.
There also needed to be some sense of respect on his part. Jones-Drew has played with a chip on his shoulder since being passed in the first round of the 2006 draft and he has seemed in my opinion as a self-promoter and a “me” guy.
There is no “me” in team, Maurice.
Would trading Jones-Drew be an option?
The fact he has two years remaining on a contract that still ranks in the top 10 of running backs, but stars like Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Arian Foster and Chris Johnson make more than him is appalling since I can see Peterson and maybe Foster being better than him, and the others on par or below him.
As you can see, I chose all playoff-contending teams. Would the price be too high? Could team owner Shad Khan and general manager Gene Smith see this as an end to a means (yes, I meant to say that)?
Could this be a situation like Marshall Faulk who got to St. Louis and won a Super Bowl ring or Eric Dickerson, who left Los Angeles for Indianapolis?
The Jaguars could sign Cedric Benson and use Rashad Jennings together in the backfield and be just fine.
While there is something about having a little bowling ball run through a defense, the name of the game is still winning and those two runners help you do that.
Even Charlie Sheen can tell you that.
So as camp opens up and we see two major keys to the Jaguars’ season not in camp, we can only hope for the best. We can foresee the rookie getting signed mainly because he and team must use the rookie salary cap as a guide.
We could also see MJD in camp at some point, happy or unhappy.
Let’s hope he comes in happy. Because if he and the Jaguars do not resolve this issue, then it could be a very hot summer and extremely long season ahead.