Gene Smith once again surprised us(at least me for sure). His final 53 is looking good (especially on offense) and makes me scratching my head (especially on defense) at the same time. Here is my first reaction to the 2010 roster of the Jaguars:
1. If Gene Smith fall in love with you; he loves you long time
The big shocker for me is the release of Scott Starks over Don Carey. I’m not going to lie; I don’t get this. You have a proven veteran; who is your 3rd best CB on your roster; and you cut him in favor of a guy almost everyone torched in preseason games and in practice (Check back our archives here on Black&Teal. Terry pointed out his flaws very early). Can somebody give me a good reason why this move happened? Of course other than Gene Smith “stole” Carey from the Browns last year; because he saw something special; everybody else missed. The only reason I found why Carey is on the roster; and Starks is not is that Don was brought to the team by Gene Smith and Scotty is an “around average” level Shack Harris player. This apparently is huge disadvantage for players on this team. Other than that I see no reason except the “he is younger” card; which is of course true. But I have another card which says “Starks is proven and he is better”! It is a good thing if a GM sticks with his selections; but he can’t be blind for obvious issues. Why is it that Scott Starks couldn’t made this team; and why couldn’t Gene place Carry on the practice squad? I seriously look for the answer…
2. Who will be the starter free safety of this team next Sunday?
After we found that Reggie Nelson was traded to Cincinnati (more about that later); I guess everyone thought; Gerald Alexander will be the starting FS. Then he was cut. (Which makes me wonder; Nelson had trade value but Alexander doesn’t? It’s just simple crazy.) I thought; ok; the Jaguars are working on a trade for a new FS. But no; so far no new trade happened; which makes me wonder; who will be the starting FS of this team? Sean Considine; who is a reliable player; but I consider him more of an SS type? Courtney Greene; who played well against the Falcons backups; but he was a long shot until 3 days ago to make the roster? Or Tyron Brackenridge; who is a CB/S hybrid? See what I mean? I see even more question marks about the safeties; than anytime in the preseason; which is quite an achievement. A very negative one. (Side note: The Saints put Darrell Sharper to the PUP list; along with ex-Jaguar Clint Ingram. Right now I say; it was a good move not signing him for a big contract).When I look to the players who will play in the defensive backfield; (and I don’t think David Jones will be an impact in the beginning) I see doubt and fear. This secondary can jeopardize the ’10 season for the Jaguars!
3. Wilford out; Potter and Greg Jones are in – Jaguars want to run the ball too
It’s sad; that Ernest Wilford will go away. I wish him (and all the players waived/traded today) just the best for the future. Thank you very much for everything. But his departure; and the fact that Zach Potter and Greg Jones made this team means one thing: the Jaguars still want to run the ball. Both players are best in blocking; so keeping both of them sends a message; Maurice Jones-Drew is still option 1 on offense in Jacksonville. It was not 100% clear after seeing all these receiving weapons the Jaguars collected (=last 2 years) by the General Manager. Plus remember; this is a Dirk Koetter offense, and he has a resume as an offensive coordinator who wants to throw the football more. By keeping 6 backs means 2 things: 1. The Jaguars can establish a pretty good ground game. 2. They have trade value in that position until trades can be made in the season…
4. The Jaguars are young and getting younger.
Check this statistic out; 35 of the 53 players are entering his 4th year or less! The Jaguars have 8 rookies in the final roster. This year 3 UDFA rookies made the team: OT Kevin Haslam; DE Aaron Morgan; and LB Jacob Cutrera. I wish all of them to have a Russell Allen kind of regular season in ’10. Another 2 UDFA rookies; John Estes and Kyle Bosworth were placed on IR; which means the Jaguars have plans for them. And not to forget about Bolen; Potter and Greene; all were UDFA rookies a year ago; and now all members of the final roster a year later. By the way; all of Gene Smith draft picks from ’09-10 (besides D ‘Anthony Smith who is on IR) made the final 53. Did you read the title of my 1st point?…
5. Major transition of the D-line
Looks like the Cleveland game back in January was really a wake-up call; for being not to aggressive on the D-line. Only 2 players remained from the D-line of the last game of the ’09 season: Derrick Harvey and Terrance Knighton. Jeremy Mincey was with the team before; but he was always injured. I’m glad he gets the opportunity to prove himself this time. And he will be needed. I have another concern on the defense: what happens to this line if something happens with Terrance Knighton? Who is his backup? Montavius Stanley? Gone! Attiyah Ellison? Gone! John Henderson? Gone! Leger Douazble and Jeremy Mincey are the backup DTs; and with all the respect to them (and UDFA rookie Ko Quaye; who will make the practice squad); they are not in the same category with Knighton…(Update: With the arrival of former Detroit Lions DT Landon Cohen; the backup question might be solved. Let’s hope so…)
6. The Nelson trade – Well done Gene!
Well; I ripped the General Manager in this article a couple of times; (being critical is always important- let’s not forget this) but I must applaud for the Nelson trade he made with the Bengals. Getting a player and an extra conditional pick for him is a fantastic trade. Gene making great trades this year: Quentin Groves for a 5th rounder, which later was traded away for a 2011 4th round pick. Then trade a 4th round pick for Kirk Morrison + a 5th rounder; and now this. I love these deals! I really do. By the way with Nelson gone; only Marcedes Lewis and Derrick Harvey are left from the 6 1st round picks of the Shack Harris era. Marcedes entering his contract year (I hope he will be extended sooner than later); and Derrick Harvey is on the crossroad of his career. Now you can understand why so many young players are on this roster right now. By the way; if we speak about trades- Justin Smiley made the team; along with Vince Manuwai (I’m very happy about Vinnie). It means the Jaguars gave a 7th rounder to Miami. But I guess; the Jaguars got it back today from the Bengals (if Cincinnati gave a higher pick then a 7th rounder+ Jones for Nelson; this trade is a steal); so Gene currently has 8 picks heading toward the “QB draft”.
So these are my quick thoughts about the roster. I’m confident about the offense. I have serious concerns (no; to be exact I have nightmares) about the defense. On next Sunday; in the (very important; almost “must win”) game against the Broncos we will find out if Gene Smith made the right decisions about the roster today. I have different feelings about today’s decisions. In my honest opinion, it is a mixed bag.