(Photo by Sam Greenwood/G
Unfortunately, the Jaguars were the bottom dwellers of the AFC South in 2008, and I have a strong feeling they will find that slot once again in 2009.
Thankfully Wayne Weaver gave Shack Harris his walking papers, and Gene Smith has taken over as GM.
Mel Tucker replaces Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator (and the third defensive coordinator in as many seasons) where he was the defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns during the 2008 season.
It would be an understatement to simply say that the 2008 season was a disappointment for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The offensive line was decimated with injuries in week one, and free agents Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence were very lackluster.
Wide receivers Matt Jones and Reggie Williams solidified themselves as complete failures, and added to a history of bad first round choices of the Jacksonville Jaguars (anyone remember R. Jay Soward?)
Furthermore, veterans Fred Taylor, Mike Peterson, and Paul Spicer were released.
So what do you do if you are Gene Smith? Easy–go with a conservative philosophy. Focusing on the offensive line, the Jaguars selected two offensive tackles, Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton, with their first two draft picks.
They addressed their need for defensive tackle, wide receivers, and cornerback in the middle and late rounds, so it is quite obvious that the Jaguars are in for a year or two of rebuilding with young talent.
They did, however, pick up Tra Thomas and Torry Holt in free agency to provide immediate relief at offensive tackle and wide receiver, respectively. Hopefully they will also act as mentors, too.
David Garrard will begin his third season as the starting quarterback, and with the departure of Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew will now be the feature back, and be called upon to carry the ball 20 to 25 times per game.
Torry Holt will lead the wide receivers along with Dennis Northcutt and Mike Walker. Another question that has yet to be answered: Marcedes Lewis, the former first round pick at tight end. Will he show up and be noticed in 2009?
The defensive line is still a question mark. Big John Henderson is still the man in the middle, but Rob Meier proved unreliable as a replacement to Marcus Stroud.
The Jaguars did select DT Terrance Knighton in the third round, but surely he will not be able to simply step in and fill the void immediately.
Derrick Harvey will enter his second season at defensive end, and Reggie Hayward will continue to start opposite of Harvey. Who will replace Mike Peterson?
Good question that has not been answered. In the secondary, Reggie Nelson will continue to roam the field as a hunter while Rasheed Mathis continues covering opposing wide receivers.
Not unlike Mathis, the Jaguars looked to William & Mary, and traded up to snag Derek Cox also in the third round. Mathis is also from a small school, and many think that Cox is a Mathis clone.
It breaks my heart to write this, but if the Jaguars achieve a .500 record it will be considered a good season. However, if a few things fall in place for the Jaguars, it wouldn’t surprise me if they achieved a wild card in the playoffs.
In conclusion, the AFC South will not provide a Super Bowl contender, or the AFC Champion. Nevertheless, it will be a division that is hard fought, and very entertaining to watch in 2009.