2008 Season Review
The 2008 campaign was a major disappointment for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In a year where the words "Super Bowl" were tossed around preseason, Jags fans were really let down by the play on the field.
Injuries, as well as severe under-performance by key players resulted in the abysmal 5-11 season.
Quarterback David Garrard was the star of the underachievers in '08.
Coming off of a career year in which his touchdown-to-interception ratio was a brilliant 18:3, Garrard's numbers took a major hit.
His completion percentage, while still solid, dropped nearly two points; his touchdown total dropped; but it was the interceptions, 13, which hurt Garrard the most.
But all of the blame cannot be put on Garrard. In fact, there were many contributors to the Jags' 11 losses.
Let's start with the offensive line.
By Week Two, the Jaguars had lost their two starting guards for the season, their top backup guard for the season, and their starting center for several weeks. The injuries on the line really set back their season.
Garrard was sacked a respectable 21 times in 2007. But in 2008, that total doubled.
After ranking second in rushing yards and average yards-per-rush in '07, those numbers dropped to 14th and 18th respectively in '08.
The offense ranked 24th in points scored.
While the offense struggled to stop pass rushers, the defense struggled to rush the passer. They only collected 29 sacks, a drop of 12 from the previous season.
The defense, with Greg Williams calling the plays in replacement of new Falcons coach Mike Smith, ranked 21st in points allowed and 17th in yards allowed.
WR Torry Holt, OT Eugene Monroe (draft), Eben Britton (draft), OT Tra Thomas, S Marlon McCree, and S Sean Considine.
LB Mike Peterson, RB Fred Taylor, DE Paul Spicer, DT Tony McDaniel, S Gerald Sensabaugh, CB Drayton Florence, WR Matt Jones, WR Jerry Porter, WR Dennis Northcutt, WR Reggie Williams, TE George Wrighster, and OT Khalif Barnes.
Seventh year head coach Jack Del Rio is likely on the hot-seat in 2009. This could be a make or break season for Del Rio.
But the '09 season could see more break, than make (if that makes any sense).
The Jaguars seem to be in a rebuilding year even if they won't admit it. Many new, young players will be called on to play significant roles.
Out of the 10 wide receivers on the roster heading into camp, six are rookies.
Torry Holt, one of the team's biggest free agent acquisitions, will help Garrard and the offense try to get back to their 2007 form. Holt brings experience, and adds talent to the roster.
Other than Holt, the receiving corps is full of inexperienced, or under-performing, players. Troy Williamson and Mike Walker will need to step up and finally fulfill their expectations. If they don't, the passing attack will struggle yet again.
Arguably the biggest upgraded group is the offensive line. The O-line saw the additions of veteran tackle Tra Thomas, first round tackle Eugene Monroe, and second round tackle Eben Britton.
Monroe and Thomas will get looks at left tackle, eight-year veteran Vince Manuwai will likely start at left guard, Brad Meester at center, Maurice Williams at right guard, and rookie Eben Brittion at the right tackle position. Veteran Tony Pashos could challenge Britton for the starting job at right tackle.
With the new additions, Garrard should have more time to throw.
With the departure of the team's all-time leading rusher, Fred Taylor, fourth-year back Maurice Jones-Drew will see an increased rushing load. Can he handle it? Jones-Drew has only five games with 20-plus carries in his career, and he rushed for more than 100 yards in only one of those games.
Rookie Rashad Jennings, out of Liberty, and Greg Jones will accompany MJD in the Jags' backfield. Chauncey Washington, who had just four carries in all of '08, could also compete for a spot on the depth chart.
Like the offense, the defense saw multiple changes from '08 as well.
Free agent pickups Marlon McCree and Sean Considine will bring leadership and experience to the secondary.
Vocal leader Mike Peterson left for Atlanta, but the returns of Darryl Smith and Clint Ingram keep the linebacking corps as the strength of the defense.
Second year defensive end Derrick Harvey will need to mature into a dominant force on the young line and help the Jags increase their sack total.
Mel Tucker has taken over the defensive coordinator job. He's the third different coordinator in the last three seasons. However, coach Del Rio will see an increased role on the defense for 2009.
According to Del Rio, the Jaguars' base defense will be simple enough for his younger players to play fast and not be tied up in all of the scheme issues. On passing downs, look for some version of a 3-4 style with a lot of blitzing from outside linebacker Clint Ingram; and Quentin Groves should be on the field with Harvey and Reggie Hayward manning the ends.
The Jags will once again struggle in 2009. They could tally up to eight wins, but five or six is more likely.
32. Detroit Lions
30. Cleveland Browns
29. Oakland Raiders
27. St. Louis Rams
26. Denver Broncos
Be sure to check in tomorrow for the unveiling of team 24.