Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Everything you need to know about your (okay mine) Jax Jags
The Jaguars 2010 Season Preview - (Everything you ever wanted to know about the Jags - and more)
Ok, let's face it. If you dont live in Jax, the only thing you know about the Jags, is that Maurice Jones-Drew is pretty good, David Garrard is pretty average, they black out all their homes games, and if LA gets a team it's probably going to be the Jags.
Here's all the background -
First, the Jags are the "third team" in Florida. For years the Dolphins owned Florida, so if you lived in Florida and had a team, it was the Dolphins. Then the Bucs came in and grabbed some of Northern Florida (and Orlando). Go 30 miles north and you're in Georgia and fans identify with the Falcons. Go east and your in the ocean, so they identify with the Dolphins.
So Jacksonville pretty much has only Jacksonville to draw from and nothing else. And much of Jacksonville's population is transplants that already had a team affiliation (Bengals for me).
Jacksonville ranks #30 in population (metro population) if you give Milwaukee to Green Bay, yet had the 5th largest stadium because it was built to hold the Florida/Georgia game and the Gator Bowl. Even with 10,000 seats permanently covered we have the number 20 stadium.
2003 was a watershed year for the Jags, as they decided to move on from Tom Coughlin who was Coach and GM. Jack DelRio became Head Coach, and James "Shack" Harris became the GM.
DelRio has been a bit of an enigma as a Head Coach. In some ways being exciting (no one goes for it on 4th down like DelRio) but the offense is bland every year despite promises to open things up.
But Shack Harris was a disaster as GM. He had 6 drafts. Of those 1st round picks, 2 were complete busts (Reggie Williams and Matt Jones), 2 were MAJOR disapointments (Leftwich and Nelson), and 2 have been moderately effective (Lewis and Harvey). Even one of the moderate successes is tempered by the fact that the Jags traded up to get the guy and gave up lots of draft picks.
And Harris's free agent pickups were a disaster. For example in his last year he gave a 30 million contract to malcontent Jerry Porter. $10 million was guaranteed, so after 1 year and 11 catches, Porter was released. And Harris gave huge multi-year contracts to DelRio and Garrard after their only good seasons, and before their contracts were up. Now the cash-starved Jags are hampered by those deals.
After the 2008 season, owner Wayne Weaver had enough. The team had gone 5-11 in what was supposed to be a good year. The team was rivaling the Bengals for most arrests, and they were having trouble filling the stadium. (a stadium with no naming rights). He had vowed to be a hads-off owner but he had to take action.
The first step was the firing of Shack Harris, and by naming as his replacment a behind the scenes Player Development guy named Gene Smith. Smith was well respected. When Tom Coughlin left he made a special point in telling Weaver that Smith was a hidden asset.
Smith believed in "character guys" and building through the draft. But it was not known if Smith had the management backing and personality to stand up to DelRio who had shared personnel duties with Harris.
Those questions were soon answered as Smith was given total control of Personnel moves (DelRio now had none), and Smith went through the roster with a paring knife getting rid of all the busts and bad character guys.
But it meant coming into the 2009 draft with major needs everywhere. Smith doesn't like to tap the free agent market. Both offensive and defensive lines were porous. And the wide recievers were terrible.
His first pick (#8 overall) was solid. They need Offensive Linemen and the consensus #2 OL was available thanks to the Bengals drafting Andre Smith, so they grabbed Eugene Monroe from Virginia.
It was a hair more surprising when in the second round he selected another OL, Eben Britton from Arizona. But Smith preached that he believed in Best Available PLayer (BAP) and Britton had been thought of as a possible first rounder.
It was in the 3rd round that Gene Smith's drafting personality came out. (and he started being criticized by the draft gurus). In the third they took Terrance Knighton from Temple in what was considered a major reach. And before another pick was made, the Jags traded their #2 2010 pick to select Derrick Cox from William and Mary, also widely considered to be a big reach.
In the 4th they got a WR from Arizona (Mike Thomas), the 5th another WR (Jarret Dillard from Rice), 6th a TE from Nebraska-Omaha (Zach Miller), and in the 7th a RB from Liberty (Rashad Jennings) and a WR from Rutgers (Tiquan Underwood).
Now in hindsight, the 2 picks that Smith got hammered for (the 3rd rounders from Temple and William and Mary) both turned out to be pretty darn good.
And a trend started of Smith trying to find talent in small, unusual places (Temple, William and Mary, Nebraska-Omaha, Liberty).
But heading into 2009 season, the economy was terrible, the previous season had been terrible, they had purged the team including some popular guys like Fred Taylor. It looked like all the games would be blacked out (and all except a night-time national TV game were). The draft was un-sexy and roundly criticized. The fans needed a reason to believe. And the Jags failed to give them one. Everytime they'd win a couple and get the fans excited, they'd get destroyed on the road. And they finshed up 7-9, and did it the worst possible way by losing the last 4.
Immediately after the 2009 season, there was some possibility that DelRio might fill the open USC job, and that excited the fan base. People were talking about Bill Cowher coming in etc. In the end DelRio did not get the USC job, Weaver couldn't afford to sack him (and was it really fair given the roster he had?).
But their was still not much buzz about the team, more blackouts were looming. Wayne Weaver was adamant that he was not moving the team, but needed a commitment from the people and companies of Jacksonville. That's when Tony Boselli stepped in.
Boselli had been the teams first #1 pick and a mainstay during their early success. Now, after ending his career with the Texans, he was back in Jax as a business man and radio talk show host. Boselli took it upon himself to raise interest and fan excitement and ticket sales.
He formed Team Teal, and worked round the clock, from the end of the season till today promoting the Jags. The Jags did their part by making extremely affordble tickets and easy payment plans. And it has paid off. The Business community has stepped up in many ways. The stadium now has a naming rights sponsor in Everbank ( a local Jax bank). And at least the first 5 home games will not be blacked out, and maybe none of them.
In the 2010 draft, the Jags needed a marquee name to heighten fan interest (sales). It was fairly evident that they had no early round interest in local favorite Tim Tebow. Most observers think that had he been there when they picked at #10, the Jags would have gone with CJ Spiller (from Florida). They didn't need a running back and he would have been BAP. (and a marquee name). But he went at #9. The Jags had many needs but the most telling was on the defensive line where they had no ability to put pressure on the QB. They had made one significant Free Agent pick up, getting Aaron Kampman from Green Bay.
When they picked it was another "Who?". Tyson Alualu from Cal. Again the draft gurus howled at the "reach" as he had been projected to go much lower. Whether true or not, the local people put out the word that they knew other teams would have grabbed Alualu in the next few picks. It appears the Jags may have had tunnel vision, because all indications are that they turned down extra much needed picks to get Alualu. They really like Alualu. They need him to be very good.
They had no #2 because they traded it the previous year. When the #3 pick came up, it was a second DL, D'Anthony Smith from Lousiana Tech. They traded their 4th for an extra 5th and Oakland LB Kirk Morrison, in the 5th they got another DL from Central Arkansas (Larry Hart), and followed in up with their 2nd 5th round pick..... yet another DL in Austen Lane from Murray State. They'd drafted 5 straight DL !! This was BAP gone crazy. 5 DL and their one FA move was a DL !!
In the 6th they picked up a RB (Deji Karim from Southern Illinois) and with a supplemental 6th a Kick returner from James Madison (Scotty Magee). They had no 7th.
So coming out of the draft, the Jags not only did not get a marquee name, they got a no-name, and were again widely criticzed by the gurus.
So where are they heading into opening day?
1. Ticket Sales look pretty good (and many were 3 years deals)
2. First 5 home games not blacked out and last 3 may not be.
3. Alualu has been impressive and most fans are accepting that it was ok pick
4. Special Team may be among the best in the league. Though nicked up to start the season. 2010 picks Deji Karim and Scotty Magee look fantastic as punt and kick off returners.
5. Wide reciever is no longer a black hole as Mike Sims-Walker has become very good and the pick-ups on last two drafts look encouraging.
6. Offensive line is still somewhat shaky in the middle. Monroe and Britton need to take the next steps to justify their draft status.
7. Defensive line should be much improved with Kampman and Knighton and all the draft choices.
8. Defensive backfield (especially safety) is a concern.
9. Running backs should be decent. Jones-Drew is banged up to start season and did nothing in pre-season, but Jennings looks decent as back up.
10. Garrard looked just fair in pre-season. They just want him not to screw things up with fumbles and getting sacked. The Jags need a QB in next years draft badly.
We're building thru the draft and that can be slow. We have faith in Gene Smith but wonder if he is so concerned with being the "smartest guy in the room" and finding players from small schools (In 2 drafts - James Madison, William and Mary, Nebraska-Omaha, Central Arkansas, Southern Illinois, Murray State, Temple, Louisiana Tech, and Liberty), and suprise picks, that he outsmarts himself.
Last edited by JaxRed; 09-12-2010 at 01:57 PM.