Jacksonville Jaguars: 4 Needs That Must Be Addressed This Offseason
The Jacksonville Jaguars need help almost everywhere, and it is showing through their dismal 2011 season. They are out of the playoff race and are coming off of a 41-14 blowout loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Luckily, they are ready to start over this offseason with a new head coach and a new owner who is very committed to bringing success to Jacksonville. However, GM Gene Smith will still be sticking around and the Jaguars have many areas that need addressing before they can start competing and winning games again.
So, if the Jaguars want to usher in their new management with success and be able to start becoming playoff contenders, they will need to address four key needs presented in this slideshow.
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It is pretty obvious that Blaine Gabbert is confused and does not know how to handle running an offense in the NFL. The Jaguars are the worst passing team in the NFL and are no doubt regretting selecting Gabbert 10th overall in the 2011 draft.
Gabbert wasn't the best player the Jaguars could've selected in that spot, but they made it worse by not taking the safety precaution of signing a competent veteran QB. Jake Locker and Christian Ponder both had the opportunity to sit behind veterans and learn how things are done in the NFL, and Gabbert needs that opportunity too.
Although the 2012 free-agent market is a bit thin on vets that can step in and start, there is one gem: Jason Campbell, from the Oakland Raiders. Now that the Raiders have Carson Palmer there may be no reason for them to sign another (relatively) old QB, meaning Campbell could be left to sign with Jacksonville.
Campbell has shown that he still has some good years left in him, meaning the Jaguars would be extremely wise to let him take over a while so that Gabbert can settle down and begin to mature as an NFL passer.
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The Jaguars desperately need tackles. Eugene Monroe and Guy Whimper are both mediocre at best in pass protection and although the Jaguars have a pretty solid rushing attack, the offensive line's performance in the loss to the Falcons showed how badly it needs help.
Eben Britton has proven to be a talented player, but more often than not he is injured. The Jaguars desperately need some stability on the offensive line to protect Blaine Gabbert, who is last in the league in passing yards per game.
Now, not all of the Jaguars' passing woes are the offensive line's fault and they can't be blamed for everything, but they will have to do a lot better job in 2012 than they are now and that will have to come from getting rid of some current starters.
This year's free-agent market is filled with old vets who they should stay away from and players that will only go for mind-blowing salaries, so the ideal time for the Jaguars to address the line would be in the second round of the draft, with a player such as Barrett Jones from Alabama.
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Defensive tackle and defensive line in general is where the Jaguars need a lot of help. Tyson Alualu has kept up a solid level of play, but they desperately need a run-stuffing defensive tackle who can improve one of the league's worst run defenses.
Matt Roth and Jeremy Mincey are also solid defensive ends, but neither one is anything spectacular and since the Jaguars are a significant amount under the salary cap it leaves them room to sign a defensive tackle in free agency.
They could also address defensive tackle in the draft with a second-round pick if players like Jerel Worthy are still available, but it could be beneficial to pick up a veteran such as Paul Soliai in free agency.
Either way, the Jaguars must address the defensive line this offseason, whether it be with a draft pick or a free-agent pickup.
A Big, Physical, No. 1 Wide Receiver
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If the Jaguars do not have a clear No. 1 wideout going into the 2012 season, then GM Gene Smith is stupider than he looks. With a plethora of tall, physical receivers in free agency and the draft, the Jaguars have no excuse to not pick one up.
In the draft, the Jaguars are poised to land either Michael Floyd from Notre Dame or Alshon Jeffery from South Carolina. Both players are tall, play physically and have great hands that make them ideal targets for any kind of pass.
The Jags also have a ton of cap room to work with, meaning they could potentially pick up Marques Colston, Dwayne Bowe, Vincent Jackson, Stevie Johnson or Reggie Wayne. Any one of them could instantly improve Jacksonville's dismal receiving corps.
Blaine Gabbert's struggles are not all his fault; he needs a true No. 1 wideout that can be his go-to guy in clutch situations or when he is in trouble. Right now, he is working with players that would be backups on any other team.