Admittedly, I am a Jaguars fan. From the moment they were awarded a team and we played our first game, I have loved this team.
As a writer, I cannot show as much partiality as I would like. But as someone with a voice, I need what needs to be said: This team needs players who can play. It should not matter what the character of the player is.
OK, I’ll back up slightly and explain. We need an identity, a face, a rhythm. We need 35 points per contest and a defense that can stop someone on the goal line. We need a toughness you see in New England, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. We need a hierarchy that is willing to spend money on marquee names that can get points on the board.
Yes, we need something.
As fans we feel we feel we have been cheated. In our most successful times, we were used to Mark Brunell hitting Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell across the middle or Fred Taylor busting through the line for a 70-yard gallop. And we saw Tony Brackens and Jeff Lageman solidify a front line that was dominant.
These things or people have been replaces by the likes of David Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew and Aaron Kampman and Daryl Smith. Jones-Drew is the face of the franchise. And right now there is no one who even comes close.
We need something, and we need something now.
Free agency will bring us Paul Posluszny and hopefully will land us Eric Weddle and a Barrett Ruud or maybe even a James Jones. But it does not compare to what we could have.
Jaguars GM Gene Smith has taken a stand with the team that players fit a “profile”—criteria that are met in order to become a part of this team. And while I agree character is important to the creation of a solid football foundation, it also reminds me that nice guys do not always finish first in the NFL. Jack Tatum, Conrad Dobler, Jack Ham, Randy White—mean, strong and all winners.
These players on the open market now could play in Jacksonville: Plaxico Burress, Randy Moss, Chad Johnson, they all play receiver and have a history that is unsavory in the eyes of the Jaguars’ brass. All are needed to win.
We should be looking at Jeremy Trueblood at guard, Michael Huff at safety and Ray Edwards at defensive end. They all fit our mold of the “right” player. But realistically, let’s not concentrate on how often a guy goes to church (a metaphor) and worry more about on-field production. Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and Leonard Little—they all have proven to be superstar talents regardless of legal issues and courtroom drama.
Head coach Jack Del Rio is a players’ coach who draws from his time in the NFL to mentor these young players. But even he cannot change the persona of this franchise until he is willing, with Smith, team owner Wayne Weaver and others, to make changes to give this team an edge, a badass attitude that can only signify this franchise is ready to win.
Until then, our team—my team, for that matter—will always be looking at other teams that play in the Super Bowl and wonder why it isn’t them holding up a Lombardi Trophy.