Note to Shad Khan: The Rebuilding of the Jacksonville Jaguars Must Start Now
Cam Newton. Andy Dalton. Andrew Luck. Robert Griffin III. Russell Wilson. Brandon Weeden. Christian Ponder.
I bet you know those names, don't you? Seven quarterbacks taken in the last two NFL drafts that are currently starting and doing better than Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert. If you include Jake Locker on the list, which is a questionable call, you can see that a quarter of the NFL starters in this league that are putting up decent numbers also have only two years' experience. In fact, some have less than the one Jacksonville is entrusting its future with.
It does not take a rocket scientist or a football prognosticator to tell you there is something wrong with this formula. And as Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports said Tuesday on XL Primetime 1010XL in Jacksonville, “The Jaguars are not only bad, they are boring.”
Yes, this is about as low a point as a team can get in the season and with the news of Maurice Jones-Drew being out for several games because of a foot injury, according to ESPN's Paul Kuharsky, and the “probability” that Gabbert, who suffered a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder, will play in the game against the Green Bay Packers on the road, these are hard times for the team that finished 5-11 in 2011 and doesn't look to be approaching that win total this season.
Making changes in midseason in the NFL are not the “norm” as we all know, but since the Carolina Panthers have already set the precedent by firing their general manager Marty Hurney, maybe the team that began their NFL road to success with the Panthers can follow in their footsteps and realize the time is now for this team to also make some similar moves.
I’ve said all along that Shad Khan, who bought the team from Wayne Weaver in January of this year, is a businessman first and football owner second. He has surrounded himself with men of football knowledge and hired football coach Mike Mularkey, who was given a team that needs a major overhaul.
Having MJD on the sidelines along with a poor passing offense —which I cannot understand since Mularkey put together a great game plan in Atlanta with Matt Ryan—does not help the situation, as my father would say. I guess it has to be the quarterback and the personnel around him. How about this for an eye-opening experience? Dirk Koetter is running Atlanta’s offense and doing a pretty good job. Last time I checked, the Falcons were 6-0.
The problems go well beyond the injuries and offensive line. Changing general managers in midseason like the Panthers will not get this team to six wins and an improvement over last season. The moves current general manager Gene Smith has made over the last four years have left this team worse off than the team was before he took over from James “Shack” Harris, who was the general manager before him.
I know, it sounds a little like a political campaign. In a way, it is. I am campaigning for this team to be good—not great, but good. I am stomping for something more than mediocrity. I am asking that there be a moratorium on this team giving us coach speak about how they are “making progress” or the two or three things it did well in a loss when the team should have won.
There are no moral victories in politics and there are certainly no moral victories in the NFL.
Changes will be made at the end of the season. Players possibly jettisoned. Gene Smith’s tenure here is in serious doubt and there is a likelihood Mularkey could also come under fire with a new general manager in place.
From a business standpoint, this city cannot continually witness a losing franchise. Fans won’t come out and support this team. Also, since Khan is so enamored with the idea of playing football overseas, should this city be more concerned with Khan taking this team to London permanently, if given that option, rather than worrying if the Los Angeles Jaguars will be playing in California in five years?
So...how about considering these options for the 2013 season?
Go out and sign a veteran quarterback not named Chad Henne or Jordan Palmer. Michael Vick may be on the market. Kyle Orton is holding a clipboard in Dallas and Jason Campbell is riding the bench in Chicago. All three are better options than what we have now.
Be prepared for another MJD holdout. While he does not have the leverage he might have had because of his foot injury, he can still force the team’s hand again like he tried this season. It's his last year in Jacksonville under the current contract, so all I see is discourse again and the team will have to franchise him in 2014.
Make this team more attractive to not only players, but also coaches. I am convinced that while the Jaguars might want to go out and sign someone like Mario Williams or maybe Chris Carr or even Pierre Garcon, Jacksonville does not stand out like Dallas or Washington and while Buffalo is not the greatest place to be in the NFL, tradition speaks volumes in a sales pitch.
Hire a big-time general manager. Maybe Bill Polian. How about Marty Schottenheimer to run football operations? Cut the fat off this team that has been losing year after year.
If you cut ties with Mike Mularkey, which is not fair after only one season, be prepared to hire someone at any cost. There has to be someone out there who is spinning the idea of Mike Holmgren teaching the West Coach offense to whoever is behind center for this team in 2013.
Don’t give up on defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. I think he might become a scapegoat in all this drama, but he is not the problem with this team. Injuries, execution and player personnel are the issues.
The NFL, like I have quoted before, is an 8-8 league (Colin Cowherd of ESPN once said it). The Jaguars don’t look like a team that could handle getting to a “break even” season right now and while winning is contagious, so is losing. We have seen that over the course of the last four seasons. We need change and we need it now. It may not help this season’s debacle, but at least it will show this franchise is really committed to its fans and the NFL.
Winning is everything in this league. Nobody cares about who is losing. It’s about time this franchise mattered again.
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