I had been giving updates during the season on the predictions thread, where Edskin predicted 5-11 (as did most people). They ended up 7-9, in a season that was a mixed bag.
Let's start with the bad:
Attendance was the among the worst in the league. Every home game was blacked out. The economy sucked pretty bad at a time when the team was coming off a 4-12 season, and the new GM starting purging the roster including local favorite Fred Taylor.
Everytime some good fortune smiled on the team, they would go on the road (where they sucked) be shown on TV, and stink it up killing revised enthusiasm for the team.
And, every story about the possible move of a team to LA starts with Jags.
Now the good:
Most of the Jags future depends on 2 people:
Wayne Weaver - Owner
Weaver has consistently said he won't sell/move the team. And this is a man who has shown his dedication to Jacksonville previously. When they were awarding franchises during expansion, the NFL tried for 2 weeks to convince him to drop Jacksonville, and they would give him the St Louis franchise, and he held fast.
But he is getting older and his heirs don't want the team so most people think we may have a 2-3 year window to get the ship righted.
GM Gene Smith
The Jags are in the position they are in because of the inept reign of former GM Shack Harris. His 1st round draft picks were:
1. 2003 - Byron Leftwich (bust)
2. 2004 - Reggie Williams (bust)
3. 2005 - Matt Jones (bust)
4. 2006 - Marcedes Lewis (decent, but not first round decent)
5. 2007 - Reggie Nelson (poor, very close to bust)
6. 2008 - Derrick Harvey (fair. But was drafted to be a sacker and has failed at that, and Harris spent a lot of picks to get him).
In addition, Harris blew big dollars on free agent busts: In 2008 alone, they spent 16 million on FA busts Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence.
And he tied the Jags hands with a 60 million dollar contract for David Garrard.
But after the 2008 season, Weaver gave total control over football personnel decisions to Gene Smith. He quickly started the kind of team he wanted.
He got rid of guys with character issues. He got rid of the FA busts. He cleared the way for Maurice Jones-Drew to be the main back by cutting Fred Taylor.
He did a massive roster purge in year 1. 33 new players were on the 53 man roster. He had what appears to be a very successful first draft. He spent his 1st and 2nd round picks on big OL, trade his 2010 2nd for an extra 3rd which was DB Derrick Cox, and his regular 3rd on DT Terrance Knighton. All of these guys became immediate starters. His 4th round pick was a big contributor at WR.
He made 2 FA aquisitions. Neither was for huge dollars.
So where do Jags stand now heading into the off-season:
1. Wayne Weaver continues to say he will not sell/move team
2. Former Jag Tony Boselli is leading a "Team Teal" movement to re-energzxe the city and business community to support the Jags. Rumors are that ticket sales are up.
3. There was a flurry of excitement that Del Rio might be heading for USC. But he is here, and everyone seems to acknowledge that it's playoffs or bust for 2010. He will have 2 more more years at 5 million per if he is fired. (Thanks Shack)
4. The biggest problem on the team is that they have ZERO pass rush. (this despite using the first 2 picks in 2008 on DE pass rishers)
5. Garrard is fair at best, but is being paid a fortune.
6. Offensive line (especially in center) was too porous
7. In a draft where they really need to plug some holes, they have no second round pick.
So do the Jags try to grab their QB of the future if the right guy (Bradford, Classen) falls to them at 10/11 (TBD by coin toss).
Do they get a pass rusher and take a Tony Pike/Jeavon Sneed type in 3rd/4th round?
Do they find a way to get local Jax guy Tim Tebow in order to sell tickets?
Do they trade down in first round to get that 2nd pick? Or trade a vet like John Henderson to get it?
Should be interesting. I do have faith in Gene Smith
I say Jags do very little in FA but sign a couple guys to minor deals like last year
They trade down to get their pick in 2nd round, and go for a DE
They take a chance on a Pike-like pick in 3rd/4th
They don't go for Tebow unless he is there in 3rd (which I doubt)