We are just days away for the new season and right now we are tied for the lead as is everyone else. It might not stay that way and everyone has published their season predictions. So it is time that we here at black&teal do the same. After watching the Jaguars in pre-season and then the surprising roster moves, we don’t have one but three possible scenarios. I have developed the pessimistic, a more realistic and an optimistic scenario. Each one includes what that result could mean for Jack Del Rio, David Garrard, and the Jaguars for 2011 and the ‘QB draft’.
The pessimistic scenario: Every fear we have concerning the secondary comes true. The pass-rush stays the same with quarterbacks getting the time they need to find open receivers. The secondary can’t stop the opponenets from putting up numbers what we saw in the preseason. The offense will be not as ready as we thought, David Garrard remains inconsistent and Maurice is really hurt/or becoming less effective as he was in the last part of the ’09 season. Combine that with the very tough schedule and this will be a very long ride, almost a torment for Jaguars fans.
Impact for 2011: David Garrard and Jack Del Rio are gone. Gene Smith has no other choice than to select Christian Ponder in the 1st round (in the Top 5…). The cost forces more cuts in the high paid veterans. Ticket sales again become a nightmare issue for the Jaguars. 2011 becomes another make or break year for the players and for the Jaguars to stay in Jacksonville. It is as bad as it can get.
The realistic scenario: This team has major improvements but still has big question marks all season long. The Special Teams unit shines, the running game is still strong and stopping the run is source of pride for the Jaguars. Games hang in the balance. Inconsistency at the pass rush continues and the the passing game remain an issue for the Jaguars. The secondary will lose some of the close games for this team or allow a blow out early. The Jaguars will have 1-2 surprise wins (My candidates: Eagles; Giants; maybe 1 Colts game) as well as 1-2 surprise losses (Chiefs; Redskins; maybe Oakland). They will have the same record as they had in 2009; but because it is a much tougher schedule than 2009, it is spun as an improvement.
Impact for 2011: It depends on many things. Jack’s fate will depend on how the team plays when they lose (I mean if they have tough; close battles against better teams); and their victories are clear wins (I mean not “Rams like” nail biters against bad teams) and they don’t producing another late season meltdown; Jack might get a shot to return. Plus the defense must be better especially upfront. If the Jaguars have a near Top 10 defense, then people will say keep Jack. David? It depends on the options Gene Smith has in the 1st round in the draft. If Ponder or a REAL 1st round caliber QB is available as the true BAP next April; I think David is gone via trade. No matter what happens in the draft (There will come a new QB anyway) the real question will be how David perform this year. If he shows better leadership and decisions during the game and becomes more consistent then he might have a shot to keep his starter job. But only if he matches these qualifications I just wrote about; when the Jags have another mediocre record.
But if the Jaguars have a top 10 defense and David is good, isn’t that the optimistic scenerio? Let’s see.
The optimistic scenario: The offense is for real, Dirk Koetter use the Tight Ends very efficiently. There are few, a very few, bad games from the offense. The pass rush and the Front 7 are better (or as good) as we expected (Over 30 sacks). Alualu and Knighton are becoming the new Stroud and Henderson. The Jaguars are the surprise team/feel good story of 2010. And in a very big battle on Week 17; they earn a wildcard spot against the Texans. This means the Texans once again miss the post season. There are no blackouts all season long and tickets for the games become hot items. Of course everything must click in this team to achieve these (almost) unrealistic expectations; but hey this is the optimistic scenario; so why can’t this happen?
Record: 10-6; Wildcard spot
Impact for 2011: Jack and David are heros and stay most likely for one more season. Jack probably will fulfill his contract until 2012. Gene Smith can focus elsewhere in the 1st round; and can get a shutdown corner or a great safety; or a new guard. And he can draft his development QB in the 2nd-3rd round (I thinking of you Case Keenum and Ricky Stanzi!) Blackout will be an unknown word in 2011; and everything is just perfect for a young up and coming team who is ready to really build up to a strong contender and new king of the AFC South.
So which one do you see coming?