Kassim Osgood: The Matt Jones we always wanted?

[Editor note: I am so pleased to introduce Andrew Hofheimer, our newest writer.  What is so wonderful about running a site is to meet people like Andrew and Zoltan and Luke. People who have ideas and are developing a top level ability to express them. Andrew has a unique look at things and a wonderful writing style. Read this and comment, but most of all welcome him to BlackandTeal!]

Kassim Osgood came to Jacksonville on a mission. In the rare instances he is featured in the media, a casual viewer might notice his towering athletic build or his affable SoCal demeanor. He may seem content with his role as a Special Teams superstar, but when he speaks there is a desperate plea within his careful verbiage. He has given his everything whenever it’s been asked of him – but Osgood wants his team to ask more. The stage is set for him to fill a gaping void both on the field and in the hearts of the fanbase, which has gone suspiciously unacknowledged since 2008. Kassim Osgood will become the physical possession receiver and clutch performer that Matt Jones could never grow into – a steadfast leader who unselfishly does whatever is asked of him. Free of the character flaws and unrealistic expectations that ultimately doomed Jones, Kassim will flourish where Jones failed and as a result, exonerate fans of the resentment left in the wake of Jones’ failure and his maddening indifference towards all those he disappointed.

July 31, 2010 - Jacksonville, Florida, United States of America - 31 July 2010: Kassim Osgood.

Jones and Osgood have an eerily similar appearance, both in physical stature and playing style. If you’ve seen any practices this offseason, you know the word “graceful” is not going to appear in any articles about Kassim Osgood. What you can find instead are: “awkward”, “glider”, “lacks suddenness”, and “poor route running”. He does not possess the moves to break cornerbacks’ ankles or the hands and aerial ability to make gravity-defying, acrobatic catches. He’s long in the legs, long in the arms, and though he lacks the natural smoothness and acceleration of a premier receiver, he is said to be deceptively fast. Hmmm…sound familiar?

What immediately separates the two is the fervor with which Kassim does whatever is asked of him. As Jaguars fans, there are several truths we hold to be self-evident whenever GM Gene Smith hires a new employee – he stays out of trouble off the field; he maintains his body and maximizes its potential and longevity; he cherishes the game and his opportunity to make a career of it. In other words, Gene seeks professionals – and it is in this respect that Osgood is the complete antithesis to Matt Jones. Kassim has an unblemished history of off-the-field behavior as well as all of the intangibles that no coach could ever teach Matt – the desire to be great and the discipline and work ethic it takes to achieve that. Despite feeling underutilized, he refuses to give anything but his all. That, readers, is called professionalism. He signed a lucrative contract extension before the Chargers’ 2006 season that led him to believe he would become a bigger part of the offense. That wish never materialized and Osgood channeled his disappointment through Special Teams with a cathartic fury. “That’s why I’m a little more aggressive this year,” he told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Anybody gets near me I’m going to knock them on the ground.” I’m lovin’ this guy already…

Kassim has plenty of motive for wanting to prove himself as a wide receiver. A brief glance at his Player Bio shows that he is no stranger to dominance. He was an All-American at Cal Poly, leading the nation in receiving yards his sophomore year and setting the NCAA Division I-AA single-game record for receiving yards. Transferring to San Diego State for his junior year, Kassim continued to perform at All-Conference levels and continued setting records and leading the nation in receiving, despite tougher opposition in the Mountain West Conference. But he was never given the opportunity to realize his potential on the professional level. “I’m going to be a great receiver someday – probably not in San Diego,” he told the Union-Tribune once it became apparent the Charger were never going to give him that chance.

The front office and coaching staff must bear some of the blame for Matt Jones’ failure in Jacksonville and they will not make that mistake again. Jones was forced into the role of a big-play, No. 1 receiver based on his high draft status and eye-popping combine performance, but was never fit to be that. In 2008, Matt Jones was succeeding in his new role as a physical, possession receiver, but as we all know, by then it was too late because he was playing on borrowed time. This exact role is where Kassim Osgood will succeed in 2010 and beyond. He is not here to be a big-play receiver or a redzone threat, but to be grinder, using his massive frame to get off the jam, shield the defenders from the ball, and using his long arms to catch it away from trouble. Let’s face it, he’s not going to move like a figure skater because he’s built like a Mack truck and acts like the school bully. Kassim stands almost six inches taller than the average defensive back and weighs in at a muscular 220 lbs. Have you seen him play Special Teams? He doesn’t shed blocks. He throws anyone in his way to the ground and hits ballcarriers like they stole his grandmother’s purse. Kassim is built to be the go-to guy when we need a tough grab to keep the chains moving on 3rd down – exactly what he told Vic he wants to be, the “quarterback’s safety valve…his living video game”.

Kassim Osgood was not brought to Jacksonville to be as savior or a superstar, but it is selfless role-players like him that win games and can energize a team and a fanbase. Gene knows that when you hire a guy like Kassim, you are hiring a guy that sacrifices himself wholly to his team and relishes every opportunity he’s given – not to be on SportsCenter, but because it’s his job. He brings veteran leadership and an incredible awareness and poise in pressure situations – just watch this video or how calmly he raced down the sideline Friday night to down Adam Podlesh’s punt on the 1. He will continue being what he’s always been – a tenacious competitor, a leader by example, a silent martyr. It’s guys like Kassim who become the rocks, a stronghold that the team and the fanbase can always count on and rally around.

– Andrew Hofheimer

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