[Editor Note: Zoltan has a unique view. He watches and reads everything and usually forms a wonderfully accurate perspective. I urge you to read this long article, it says it all and is right on the mark. - Terry]
I can’t be at practice, I can only listen and see the pictures, but after almost one week I can observe some good things and some concerns circling around the Jaguars. Finally the whole Alualu holdout is over; but D’Anthony Smith is injured seriously. Some people stepped up; but some are raising question marks. I can sort out 4-4 issues about what’s going great, and what is causing -at least for me- concerns.
Let me start with the good things:
GOOD: The Defensive line and the Jaguars draft looks good, very good.
There is no day, when we don’t hear something positive about this group of players Good news about the pass rush is that it doesn’t look like what we saw in the last 2 seasons. They have 2 leaders: Joe Cullen (who is receiving constant amounts of admiring words from different people) and Aaron Kampman, who looks like he is 100% healthy (although I’m glad the Jaguars limit him 1 practice a day). This kind of leadership inspires those who have just joined the team (I mean Tyson; poor D ‘Anthony; Larry Hart; Austin Lane; Ko Quaye) and is also changing (for the good!) the veterans (Derrick Harvey and Jeremy Mincey). And after all the practice sessions the highlight of the training is always someone from the defensive line. What does that mean? That mean the front 7 will be much-much different; just what Jack Del Rio and Gene Smith went searching for last January. The real test will come soon (2 day of practice with the Falcons, and then the 4 preseason games); but I’m very confident about the D-line. Also every newly drafted rookie is looking good with the exception of Smith; who might go to IR. Note: Seriously the 3rdround picks of the 2010 draft class are all cursed – Chad Jones(Giants- car accident- maybe he will never play again; ) Kevin Thomas(Indy- IR); Donald Butler (San Diego IR); and maybe D’Anthony can end up as well….. On a positive note, I hear Scotty McGee is getting better as a cornerback, I hear Deji Karim is pushing Rashad Jennings who is also good! I hear Larry Hart and Austen Lane are like hungry bears to prove Gene Smith made the right choice beliving in them. So rookies and the defensive line (which is sometimes the same) looks good to me.
GOOD: Vince Manuwai and Brad Meester are back!
To be honest with you, before camp I thought if there was going to be any surprising veteran cuts; someone who was with the Jaguars for a long while, I would have picked at least 1 of these 2. But so far; they are showing everyone they want their jobs back! Brad looked good in OTAs; and he is reportedly in great shape. But the biggest positive veteran surprise (along with Derrick Harvey) is Vinnie. It looks like today, he didn’t want to look weak or bad before his buddy Tyson Alualu. He is back; and I hope it is for real. David needs protection and the fine RBs need run support. I have a wish. I know neither of them are young but I want to see Meester; Manuwai; Forney; Nwaneri; and Smiley as the Jaguars interior lineman. The young Cs and Gs are not showing very much; so give the job for those who have proved themselves in the league (And put 2-3 young lineman to the practice squad; just in case any injury happens).
GOOD: This is a Competitive roster!
Well it looks like Gene Smith was right (and now even Bill Polian agrees with him; which is crazy, weird and heart warming at the same time…) about the roster being superbly competitive. Everywhere we look; we see players; who want to give their best; who are fighting to win one on one battles. Even where we had concerns before camp (Interior O-line; safeties) we see that a desire to excel exists. I read Maurice’s thoughts about how some part of the media and people treat the Jaguars as a joke. I think that picture will change this year. I really do! Except one position: the QBs. I see no alternative for David. I read the negative critics; about him being inconsistent, even at camp. But neither Luke McCown nor Trevor Harris presents no challenge. I know what David is; entry level of the starting QB (with special mobility): what he knows and does is the basics of what you request from the QB. But McCown and Harris are not even that. David will get better by writing down how bad he looks 100 times. Help is not on the way. The Jaguars will not trade him away; or trade for another QB. This is his season. Maybe it is his last as the starting QB for this franchise; but this is David Garrard’s team. I strongly believe he is the best option for this team to win games. Let’s see (maybe for the last time) how far he can bring the Jags.
GOOD: Marcedes Lewis
Although I expect big things from Harvey; and maybe we will finally know what Reggie Nelson is capable of, but right now it is clear for me that the best first round pick of the Shack Harris era was Marcedes. He is the total package; Pass catcher; blocks for MJD or any of the backs (or David) who want to run the football; good for pass blocking (which may be how the Jaguars must use him. See about that later). He is in his prime; a major contributor (of course like Daryl Smith and many more who played or playing well in Jacksonville) mostly not recognized by many. I think however this season with Dirk Koetter’s TE oriented offense; that picture will change. Oh; and did I mentioned he is in his contract year? This leads me to the other side…The things I see that are not so optimistic.