Jacksonville Jaguars: Is Gene Smith Speaking the Gospel or Sealing His Own Fate?
Sometimes it is better to keep your mouth closed, rather than state the obvious.
While it is clear that the Jacksonville Jaguars look like a team in desperate need of an overhaul in almost every facet of the roster, team general manager Gene Smith reiterated what all fans and members of the media already knew: that there is a need for better talent.
The comment, which was made in an interview with the Associated Press’ Mark Long on Wednesday, was a gutsy move that could, in the end, cost the four-year general manager his job.
There has been speculation that Smith, who heads the player personnel decisions for a team that has won a total of six times in the past 24 regular-season games, could be let go for the team’s lackluster performances at home this year.
The Jaguars have been outscored 95-20 in their three home games this season.
As part of a tweet sent out from Long’s Twitter (@APMarkLong), Smith outlined what changes needed to be made for this team to advance.
"Nuggets from Jaguars GM Gene Smith: 1. Team needs more talent. 2. WR Cecil Shorts will be more involved. 3. Pass rush is top concern ..."
On Friday, Long appeared on 1010 XL’s XL Primetime to talk with Joe Cowart and Ryan Green. He said the problems with the team are “obvious,” and that anyone who has watched this team this season realizes that the defense needs help on the front line and in the linebacker slots.
Long also said, when asked if this team were to be “blown up” and started over, who he would keep on the roster. The list was short.
Long listed only a handful of Jaguars: linebacker Paul Posluszny, tackle Eugene Monroe, receivers Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson and defensive backs Dawan Landry and Dwight Lowery, to name some of those on that very short list.
Issues at those three positions have plagued the Jaguars during all four years (including this one) that Smith has been the general manager, when succeeded James “Shack” Harris in that capacity. Smith has also been dogged by local media and fans for choosing players from small colleges, instead of trying to draft bigger-name players from schools with proven track records.
There has also been speculation from Pete Prisco of cbssportsline.com that Bill Polian, the former general manager of the Indianapolis Colts, could be a name to replace the potentially lame-duck Smith.
Jacksonville enters its bye week with a 1-4 record, coming off a 41-3 loss at the hands of the Chicago Bears.
The offense remains inept or a work-in-progress. The defense, which was heavily touted as a potential game-changer at the beginning of the season, has proven to be one of the worst in the league. And, like in years past, injuries have hurt this team early in the season at both the linebacker position and on the offensive line.
But Smith’s statement about a lack of talent on this team may prove to be the most biting and prophetic of all statements made so far this season. Time will tell if team owner Shad Khan takes those words to heart and makes major changes with this team now or in the offseason.
And if those changes are made, who stays and who goes? Running back Maurice Jones-Drew was quoted this past week stating he was “tired of losing,” and he said that he and his teammates needed to work harder. Jones-Drew has played on only one winning team since he was drafted in 2006.
There are questions about the offensive line that still exist, with Monroe being the only player to have played consistently this year. And with Uche Nwaneri being the second-best lineman on this team this year and having played with an ankle injury, one has to ask if the need for more line support in the draft and through free agency will be addressed.
If the draft took place today, the Jaguars would be slated to pick among the first five teams in the NFL. Names like Matt Barkley of USC, Jarvis Jones of Georgia and Bjoern Werner of FSU could be immediate starters on this team, but all would be rookies coming into the same situation Gabbert and Blackmon faced the past two seasons.
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