Do you remember the Jags of last year? They were 7-5 with destiny in their hands, yet they ended their season with a depressing 7-9 record, with Jags fans looking forward to the draft. This year was similar yet different. They ended their season the same way humbled with an 8-8 record. The expressions on the Jags faces told the story of an emotional season.
Jaxson De Ville
Do we blame the losses to injury? MJD’s knee gave way after a full season of wear an tear. Do we blame Garrard’s Finger injury? The receivers? The loss of RT Eben Britton? How about the lack of sacks? The weak secondary? Maybe the play calling? We most certainly cannot blame the fans because every single blackout was lifted this season with only a few games needing extensions. The Jaguars Saved the Whale for this season but continued support is needed for the future.
The Jags weren’t consistent this season. MJD had a slow star but had 6 - 100 yard consecutive games on a worn knee from the preseason. He had less touchdowns but still provides the biggest threat on the team.
Rashard Jennings was a 7th round pick last year from Liberty who started in his place. He has proven himself a great handcuff spell back to MJD yet has been hit or miss in the games he’s started.
David Garrard was the primary target with his 2007 season always in his rear view mirror. He broke the Jags single season record for touchdowns, yet his greatest time on field occurred in the 4th quarter, something coaches and teams hate to live on. In the latter part of the season, Garrard injured his right middle finger during the Colts game in which he chose to proceed with surgery.
Sims-Walker was also hit or miss this season after his break out season following back to back knee injuries. However, Mike Thomas provided David his go to receiver this year, with the most targets and receptions. Marcedes Lewis also showed the League what tight ends could do emerging as a big play threat, racking up 10 TDS and Pro bowl honors. Jason Hill who was scooped up from the 49ers and has proved to be the missing deep threat they’ve needed to stretch the field.
Eben Britton was missed on the O-line. Jordan Black, his back up, provided protection but not when it was need during the home stretch of their season.
As a whole the offensive line remained healthy and yet Brad Meester is now 33 years old and Vince Manuwai is now 30. Both are good players to have in the trenches but it'll be interesting to see if the Jags choose to find future replacements through the draft or Free Agency.
Tyson Alualu tackling Tim Tebow
The Jags pass defense was the biggest let down of last year. The “Rush Men” improved this season with sacks by free agent acquisition Aaron Kampman leading the way before every fans nightmare... injury (In practice nevertheless).
Terrance Knighton and the draft reach Tyson Alualu held down the interior of the line. However, young defensive ends and safeties need time to develop. Both Reggie Nelson and Anthony Smith were traded in the first weeks
Derek Cox also fell himself into a sophomore slump losing his starting job at corner.
He did however earn the position of Defensive End , Guard and Tackle. He sat at the end of the bench, guarded the water cooler, and tackled anyone who would go near it.
He did improve when Del Rio gave him his job back hardly letting receivers accumulate Yac’s with his excellent form tackling. He was a 3rd round reach from small school William & Mary who picked off Peyton Manning in his first NFL game on the first drive. How many players can say that? He lost his job and had time to regroup himself ending the season with a team high 4 Int’s and held receivers numbers down.
He’ll be a growing threat.
When the play goes right... your a hero. When the play goes wrong, you’ll never hear the end of it, especially in the post game interview. The Jags had one of the league’s worst 3rd down completion but the leagues best 4th down completion, something that they should yet shouldn’t be proud of.
Of course this has been made famous by Garrard’s QB draw.
Del Rio's been challenged, Playoff's or Lose your Job
This will be Del Rio's last year if he cannot produce a playoff season as Wayne Weaver has given him one final chance. Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker has been given the reigns to call the Defense in order to give Del Rio a better look at his team overall. Which to me sounds like Weaver is politely asking for a new play caller.
Under Gene Smith, ( General Manager ) ,the Jags have addressed their needs and have picked up important pieces to the puzzle. They are humbled once again by an 8-8 record and have the off season to look forward to.
Next years draft will be interesting to say the least as the Jags need a quarterback but their may be slim pickings with the teams in front of them having similar needs. The Jags secondary was also allowing way too many yards, 3rd down conversions and touchdowns.
With both departments as major question marks, I'm excited to see who Gene Smith will decide on drafting, as it seems he has a knack for picking up puzzle pieces for the Jaggernaughts future