As we all know, Gene Smith is a character picking man. He likes to focus on the character of the players he drafts and the character of the players that he signs in free agency. This has led to creating a team of players that is morally sound, hard working, and devoted to living and breathing football in a healthy environment.
But has it produced winners?
The Jaguars have gone 20-28 since he took over as GM following Shack Harris’ departure in 2008.
So far the team he’s building seems very solid. Eugene Monroe is a strong left tackle, TnT (Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu) make a devastating force in the front four of the defensive line, and a few gems like Derek Cox have managed to contribute to the starting lineup. But none of this really matters if the team doesn’t win.
The two best players for the Jaguars in recent years, Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcedes Lewis, were both drafted by Shack Harris. Daryl Smith, consistently one of the best (and underrated) linebackers in the league, was brought in by Harris as well.
This is not to knock the players Gene Smith has brought in. I love me some TnT, I am a big fan of the Aaron Kampman signing (yes, still), and I enjoy seeing Derek Cox opposite Rashean Mathis. Yet it’s becoming time for some of these players to reach maturity in the Jaguars organization.
Whether a player was brought in as a rookie, like Derek Cox or Tyson Alualu, or signed as a free agent like Aaron Kampman and Clint Session, the players need to make an impact. Until this year, there really hadn’t been a superior upgrade in talent (and wins) from the Shack Harris era.
There’s still promise in a lot of the Gene Smith guys; especially in the long locks of Blaine Gabbert and in the young bodies of Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton. I haven’t given up faith. But maybe it’s time we shied away from only bringing in perfect college and pro performers. With a group high character guys making up almost everyone on the team, bringing in a couple of players with more shady backgrounds probably won’t rock the boat and may actually benefit them.
If they happen to have top flight talent and can provide a spark to give the Jags some wins….well that’s just an added bonus.
- Luke N. Sims