Last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars were killed with injuries; only two starting offensive lineman played the whole season.
David Garrard was sacked 42 times.
So, Garrard had less time to throw, the Jaguars wide receivers didn't have enough time to get open, and the backs were unable to run the ball. This, in turn, meant they couldn't keep the other defense off the field, like they did in 2007, when they made it to the divisional round and lost to the New England Patriots in a close game.
Before the season even started, Jaguars wide receiver Matt Jones was arrested for cocaine possession.
Jimmy Smith was arrested for Driving Under the Influence and marijuana possession. A couple of hours later, Fred Taylor was arrested for disorderly conduct outside a club.
And they lost Richard Collier in a shooting.
So, now it's time to get to the Jaguars top five storylines.
The Jaguars New Receiving Core
Last season, the Jaguars receiving core was atrocious. Their best wide receiver (stat wise) was Matt Jones, with 65 receptions, 761 yards, and two touchdowns...and that is not very good.
In this offseason, the Jaguars have lost Matt Jones, Reggie Williams, and Dennis Northcutt from their receiving core.
However, the Jags signed wide receiver Torry Holt, who, with his veteran leadership, could be a very good grab. Also in the draft, the Jaguars got wide receivers Mike Thomas, out of the University of Arizona, and Tiquan Underwood, out of Rutgers.
They also managed to snare undrafted free agents Andy Strickland out of Wofford University and Todd Peterson out of Nebraska to help out with the Jaguars receiving core.
Where is John Henderson?
Earlier this offseason during organized team activities, John Henderson apparently injured his shoulder. He then sat out for the rest of the practice.
Coach Jack Del Rio called out Henderson, saying, "Yeah, it's disappointing to see him pull himself out, quite frankly. What he does, that's up to him. But we have a team out here that's working hard, that's committed and I'm not going to slow down and worry about somebody that's trying to get out of a drill."
"Back when I played, and even prior to that, I don't think anybody would have had to miss a snap for that injury. I think it's a minor bruise of sorts. I would think Vince Lombardi is probably rolling over right now. It's not something that should keep anybody out of work. But John feels like he can't go, so we'll let him wait until he can."
Does this make John Henderson motivated? I don't know, but we will see what happens in the preseason.
Life After Fred Taylor
The Jaguars released running back Fred Taylor this past offseason, which leaves a couple of questions: Can Maurice Jones-Drew take all the carries?
If the Jaguars need another running back, is seventh round pick Rashad Jennings the answer?
Is Michael Vick the answer, if he is willing to play running back?
Can the Jaguars offensive line stay healthy this year?
These are all interesting questions for the Jaguars heading into preseason.
Can David Garrard Go Back to the Guy We Saw in 2007?
In 2007, David Garrard won the starting quarterback job from Byron Leftwich.
David Garrard, in only 12 games, threw for 2509 yards and 18 touchdowns. He had a 64.0 completion percentage and 102.2 quarterback rating, throwing his first interception of the season in week 13 (He threw only three interceptions the whole season).
Then, he then went on to lead the Jaguars to the divisional round, where they lost to the 16-0 Patriots in a close game.
In 2008, Garrard didn't have such a great year. He played 16 games. Garrard threw for 3,620 yards and 15 touchdowns, with a 62.6 completion percentage and a 81.7 quarterback rating.
Remember the part when Garrard didn't throw his first interception until week 13? This year, he threw two interceptions in week one, leading up to 15 interceptions for the year...he almost averaged an interception per game.
The Jaguars finished in last in the AFC South, with a 5-11 record.
Now a couple more stats I thought I'd save and show again.
In 2007, Garrard got sacked 21 times and had 185 rushing yards.
In 2008 David Garrard got sacked 42 times and had 322 yards rushing.
He wasn't even close to having a pro bowl season that year, a drastic difference from the season before. Do you wonder why Garrard's numbers were so good in 2007, but for some reason they were pretty bad in 2008?
Do you wonder why the Jaguars were Superbowl contenders in 2007, and then had one of the worst records in 2008? That will be explained in storyline number one.
The Jacksonville Jaguars New, Rejuvenated Offensive Line
The 2008 Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line was decimated by injuries. Let's go over all the injuries that this offensive line had last year.
In week one, the Jaguars lost guards Vince Manuwai and Maurice Williams for the season. Center Brad Meester missed six weeks.
After week two, the Jaguars resigned guard Chris Naeole, who was waived in August.
Week eight rolled around, and Chris Naeole broke his hand and went out for the season.
Oh, by the way, Jaguars offensive tackle Richard Collier lost a leg in a shooting. That didn't help the Jaguars too much either.
So, what did the Jaguars do in the offseason to help out their offensive line?
They lost Khalif Barnes and Chris Naeole and signed former three time Pro Bowler Tra Thomas.
In the draft, the Jaguars got two offensive tackles: Eugene Monroe out of Virginia (who may have been the best player in the draft) and Eben Britton out of the University of Arizona.
With these signings, draft picks, and offensive lineman coming back from injury, this offensive line is now rejuvenated and it should be just as good as the Jaguars line was in 2007...if it stays healthy.
The Jaguars can have one of the best running games in the NFL, David Garrard will have more time to throw the ball, and the Jaguars will be able to extend drives and keep the other offense off the field.
That's what they were able to do with a healthy offensive line in 2007, and they went to the AFC divisional round, becoming Superbowl contenders.
Now the Jaguars offensive line is rejuvenated...look for the Jaguars to shock people in 2009 and make the playoffs.
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