It is the offseason. The time of year when teams gather talent they secretly covet, offer them contracts, work them as hard as they can, evaluate, then do it all again.
All the while, the media is desperate for a glimpse of who will make the roster, who will pull ahead in a position battle, who could make a push for the playoffs, who can return to dominance? We’re creatures of habit, us humans, and Sunday football is a tough habit to break. When it disappears, we scramble for the playoffs, then the Superbowl, and then….we wait.
And every team knows that we’re sitting here, anxiously reading line after line to see if the team we love can make some progress in the coming year. They play us all like a fiddle. They highlight players they know may not make the roster, hoping that if the player is cut some other team overpays for him. They promote the year’s draft picks, inflating their value and the expectations placed on them.
I like to call this part of the offseason “Revving the Engine.” Most of the pieces that will be around for the coming season are in place, but how does it all sound? Is it a low purr like that of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers? Quietly confident.
Is it the deep rumble of a bigger engine, turning over with powerful stroke after powerful stroke, like that of the New England Patriots? Big, powerful, and expressing it with pride.
Or is it the high pitched whine of a newly retrofitted turbo like that of the Washington Redskins? Yearning to be noticed.
We know GM Gene Smith and Co. would very much like to emulate the low purr of the Steelers and Packers, built through the draft – confident in their approach. But they aren’t the Steelers or the Packers. The Jags did not make the playoffs last season. The Jaguars don’t have a storied Superbowl history. The Jaguars do not have any recent dominance to look back on.
And it is reflected in the high pitched whine and spooling of the retrofit the Jags are trying to accomplish. Like the Redskins, the Jaguars must boast of what they have. Robert Griffin III is the savior of a franchise, climbed Mt. Everest, gets Subway sandwiches made out of him, and can apparently outrun Usain Bolt.
While Jacksonville hasn’t gone as far as to make Subway sandwiches in the likeness of Justin Blackmon, if you believe the reports out of the front office, the team is pretty well tuned for the coming season. Bryan Anger is going to be a hall of fame punter, every punt above 5.0 seconds of hangtime. Andre Branch is the second coming of Demarcus Ware. Justin Blackmon will humble the likes of Larry Fitzgerald. Laurent Robinson is apparently the next Torry Holt (pre-Jags). Jeremy Mincey looks like Reggie White.
But don’t be fooled.
These offseason predictions aren’t accurate. They aren’t even close. The Jags are revving their engine, and they’re revving it loud. They’re getting as much attention as they can milk from the offseason moves they’ve made. Bryan Anger could be a great punter, but it’ll take some time, it’ll be a slow start. Andre Branch will grow into his body, probably over some years. Justin Blackmon could be A.J. Green, but with Blaine Gabbert at the helm it will be a growing season. Laurent Robinson will probably look more like Eddie Royal. And Jeremy Mincey will never be Reggie White, but Jonathan Abraham could be possible.
The whine of the Jaguars engine will fill our ears through the offseason. Parts of the team will be touted, bragged about, and cooly promoted.
But until the season starts, we won’t get to hear the true roar of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ finely tuned machine.
- Luke N. Sims
Tags: Aj Green Andre Branch Bryan Anger Demarcus Ware Eddie Royal Gene Smith Green Bay Packers Jacksonville Jaguars Jonathan Abraham Justin Blackmon Larry Fitzgerald Laurent Robinson New England Patriots Pittsburgh Steelers Reggie White Robert Griffin III Robert Griffin Subway Robert Griffin Subway Head Torry Holt Usain Bolt Washington Redskins