If I could use only one word to describe how I feel about the Jaguars’ upcoming season, I would use “intrigued.” Why you ask?
It is the season for spring cleaning, and the broom definitely came out of the Jacksonville front office’s storage room this off-season. The mess that was Matt Jones and Reggie Williams was finally cleaned up, and a few disposable heroes of days past (i.e. Fred Taylor, Paul Spicer, and Mike Peterson) were shown the front door.
I would argue that Freddy T definitely had mileage left and may have been let go prematurely, but the decision was made, and as a fan I will support it. I don’t like it, but I will support it.
Now we have Torry Holt, Tra Thomas, and a group of new draftees to watch and grade. The good news is the wide receiver corps cannot get any worse than it was (at least I hope not), and the offensive line was infused with youth and talent. However, I am still concerned with the defense, and since only two defensive players were picked up in the draft, my confidence continues to wane.
Offensively, I see positive change happening to the Jaguars. I give it one or two games before the offensive line begins to truly gel, and then its lights out for MJD. His break-neck speed will blast right through the holes the offensive line blows open, and in turn those pesky linebackers will have to stay true to the run game, which in turn allows Garrard ample time to find open receivers. Play action, anyone?
Also, Garrard will return to his old ways. Conservative but precise, Garrard will lead Holt back to the 1000+ yards/10+ TDs seasons we are used to watching. With MJD threatening to break a long one every time he touches the ball, Garrard will utilize his wide receivers like he should. Heck, Dirk Koetter may even be able to live up to Pete Prisco’s lofty expectations of being an offensive genius. We’ll just have to wait and see.
The defense is unfortunately a different story. Big John is not big enough to clog up the entire middle all by his lonesome and third round draft pick Terrance Knighton is young and unproven. Rob Meier proved inadequate, so I’m afraid the song remains the same in the middle. Derrick Harvey must live up to expectations, and perhaps exceed them to improve the lousy sack totals of 2008.
Then there is the secondary: Drayton Florence was a monumental flop, so the Jaguars are hoping that Derek Cox out of William and Mary can be the second coming of Rasheed Mathis. Reggie Nelson, the former hard-hitting Florida Gator will have to return to his old ways and his reputation of being a hunter brings fear over the middle.
And let’s not forget that there is new defensive coordinator, Mel Tucker; but, a different cook with the same ingredients is still going to cook the same meal. It may look different, but it’s going to taste the same. Therefore, unless a few players step up and show us something we haven’t seen, or our new draftees grow extremely fast, I’m afraid it will be the same old defensive play of the past 2008 season, and that is not good.
I predict more points on offense, and hopefully more points than the defense gives up. But then again, that’s the name of the game, right? I just hope the offense doesn’t have to score more than 30 points per game to win. If so, the broom may come out next off-season to sweep up the remnants of Coach Del Rio’s Jacksonville Jaguar career.