During the 2008 season, the Jacksonville Jaguars found a way to go from a predicted Super Bowl appearance to a major disappointment.
Everyone has their theories as to what went wrong with a team that finally seemed to being giving the Colts some real competition in the division.
In my opinion, it was a perfect storm for disaster.
The Jaguars had major injuries on the offensive line before the season began, Mike Smith became head coach for the Falcons, David Garrard did not seem deserving of his new contract, Derrick Harvey (the guy that they believed would have an immediate impact on the pass rush) didn’t join the team until the last preseason game, Marcus Stroud was traded to the Bills, and the team lacked much-needed chemistry.
You could say that the 2007 season was simply the quiet before the storm.
The Jaguars went from a record of 11-5 in 2007 to a record of 5-11 in 2008 during the regular seasons.
It can’t get much worse, so what I am about to suggest may come as a surprise, but keep an open mind, realizing that the Jaguars have tried many other options…
Bring in Michael Vick.
Before you send me to the guillotine, hear me out:
1. Vick needs to be with a team that he knows will not tolerate any of the off–the–field antics. Coach Jack Del Rio is a no-nonsense coach. He is tough, maybe even a little too tough at times (ask Mike Peterson).
The Jaguars had a hard time last year with arrests and then again this year with Matt Jones and Reggie Williams (although they were unlikely to re–sign Williams). The franchise has a bad reputation at this point, but they are letting it be known that they will no longer tolerate it. Because this is Vick’s last chance, he will have no room for error.
2. The Jags are a small market team. Why is this important? Vick is likely to be crucified in a larger market.
I’m sure that Al Davis or Jerry Jones would love another “bad boy” project, but they are in huge markets and the initial backlash could be too much to risk. The other benefit of the Jags being a small market team is the fact that only a small number of fans are die-hard about the Jags.
This is beneficial because those die-hard fans want one thing…to win. They will be much less forgiving if Vick can benefit the team and the fact that there are so few fans means that if the Jags begin to win they can grow that fanbase.
3. David Garrard needs competition at the QB position. As of now, it is still uncertain as to what Garrard really has to offer. He did not start the entire season during 2007 and he had Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones–Drew doing the heavy lifting.
In 2008, he was forced to make the big decisions that QBs must make because Taylor and Jones–Drew did not have the running game that they were expected to have (partially because their offensive line had fallen apart due to injuries). He was unable to step up and make the big passing or running plays that we had hoped to see from him.
4. Vick gives the Jags one more (much needed) offensive weapon. If Garrard is not producing (or even if he is), Vick can be thrown in to throw defenses off. No matter what people have said about his passing game, he is a threat.
His running game is an obvious threat because he can read defenses, find holes, and get the first down. When the Jags were successful in 2007, it was mostly due to their defense and their running game. Add a QB to that equation that has a great arm, but also loves to throw the ball and defensive coordinators have a problem on their hands.
5. He’s cheap. Yes, it is that simple. He is no longer the $130 million QB.
He is a player who will not be offered nearly that much to begin. A six–year NFL veteran’s minimum salary is currently $620,000.
The Jags can offer Vick a one-year contract for a small, but decent amount of money, see what happens, and if he turns out to be absolutely astounding, tag him, and trade Garrard.
6. Vick can fill the stands.
Let’s remember that this is football. Football fans remember what Vick did at Virginia Tech.
We remember watching Vick with the Atlanta Falcons. P.E.T.A. may only know him for the dog fighting charges, but we know him for winning football games and even when loosing we know him for putting teams on his back and fighting until the very last second of the game.
He is still Michael Vick. He can sell jerseys and fill a stadium even if it is only to be able to say that I attended a game and saw Vick shake two defenders and make it into the end zone.
The Jaguars desperately need to sell tickets and Vick may assist in doing so.
Now, with all of that being said, there are three factors to keep in mind: A) Is Vick in shape (or can he at least get back into shape with the proper conditioning)? B) Will he still be the Vick that we all remember (and hopefully better)? C) Will Commissioner Goodell reinstate him?
All of the stars will need to be aligned properly, but if they do, Vick could be a major asset for the Jaguars.
It is a new start for the Jags this year. They have General Manager Gene Smith, Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker, WR Torry Holt, and several others who are new to their positions or the organization; what’s one more newbie?
They won six fewer games last season than they did the previous season. They can’t do that again because they only won five last year, so six fewer than five is impossible.
Get Vick, win games, fill seats, and begin a new era.