We all know the 2009 Jaguars will look different. Their helmets are shinier. Their uniforms have upgraded thread technology to have the jerseys breath easier. David Garrard has dropped a few pounds.
And, notably, there are a few new faces wearing what can only be dubbed as the new “armpit stripe” and a few old faces that certainly will not be.
Fred Taylor is the most recognized face that will not be returning this year. He will be dawning red, white and blue in New England. Other players like Matt Jones and Reggie Williams will be watching the Jaguars games on TV. It will certainly change how the plays are set up, especially when you consider who the Jaguars have replaced them with.
The Jaguars made two big moves in signing Tra Thomas and Torry Holt. Thomas, who is a giant of a man, is an experienced veteran looking to fill the holes on the offensive line. Holt, with his magically disfigured finger, was signed to help the Jaguars chase the ghost of Jimmy Smith.
In the draft, the Jaguars also picked up two offensive tackles, a defensive tackle, a cornerback, a handful of wide receivers, a quarterback playing as a tight end and a running back.
So how will all that change the way the Jaguars play in 2009?
The Jaguars obviously addressed a crippling need in the offensive line. If they were successful in their draft and in the signing of Thomas, it will completely open up their playbook. The Jaguars struggled with the fundamentals in 2008: protecting the quarterback, running the ball and, you know, actually putting up points.
By having depth at the offensive line, the Jaguars will give themselves a fighting chance. Instead of losing the game in the trenches, they will ensure the long, draw out drives that led them to success in 2007.
Garrard will have the ability to throw down the field because he will be given time to do it. Even if Holt turns out to be a dud, Garrard succeeded in his job in 2007 with Dennis Northcutt, Matt Jones and Reggie Williams. Garrard has proven that if he isn’t rushed he is able to throw accurate, intelligent passes.
Another plus of a healthy offensive line is that Maurice Jones-Drew will actually be able to move the ball down field without having to dodge three tackles before he reaches the line of scrimmage. Garrard’s dump passes to Jones-Drew in 2008 ensured that Jones-Drew would be sore the next morning from all the knocks he endured.
Now he doesn’t have to worry about that. Jones-Drew doesn’t have the burst of speed in the open field like Fred Taylor does but he will definitely be able to deliver down after down with a capable offensive line.
The most interesting addition to the team is former college quarterback turned NFL tight end Zach Miller. He is the small school’s Tim Tebow. He can run, he can throw, he can block. I know a lot of people make disparaging comments about Miami’s wild cat formation but he would fit that part perfectly.
Yeah, I know. It is a trick play. But is anyone going to complain when it puts points on the board? Did anyone say anything when special teams super star Montell Owens scored on a trick play against Houston in 2008? No. We’re happy with what we get.
It is the off season right now. It is hard to see how the moves that the Jaguars made would hurt the team. After last year’s performance, it is hard to imagine anything could hurt the team much more. But hey, the NFL is controlled chaos. You can plan for everything and still be unprepared.
The Jaguars have gone through a redefining stage this off season. Now it is time to see that translate into redefining the play on Sundays.