On September 3rd 1995, Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” dominated the airwaves, Jim Carrey had just finished his attempt to ruin the Batman franchise, and the Jacksonville Jaguars took the field for their first regular season game against the Houston Oilers.
Yes, it’s hard to believe that the Jaguars are approaching their 17th season in the NFL. The team has had plenty of highs and lows (especially recently), during all of which certain players stood out and entrenched themselves as franchise favorites. With that in mind, I’ve decided to unveil my all-time Jaguars first team offense and defense/special teams.
For this week, I’m just going reveal the offense with a full disclaimer – this is completely my opinion. I’ve been fortunate to have been a fan of the Jaguars since their inception and as such I remember watching all the Jaguar greats. Hopefully this piece will rekindle some great memories and spark a debate. So without further ado…
Quarterback – Mark Brunell
Let’s go ahead and get the easy choices out of the way. Mark Brunell was integral to the Jaguars’ initial success from 1996-2000. He holds all the Jaguars passing records and is responsible for some of the more memorable moments in Jaguars history. Hopefully Blaine Gabbert makes some huge strides, but for now, Brunell’s spot on this list is in good shape.
Running back – Fred Taylor
Maurice Jones-Drew is doing a damn good job of trying to turn this into a debate, but for the time being Fred Taylor is still the best RB in franchise history. When healthy, Taylor was arguably the most gifted running back in the league capable of runs like this.
Fred put da team on his back!
Full back – Greg Jones
I decided to go with a full back instead of a 3rd WR or 2nd TE because Greg Jones has been outstanding as a full back since moving to that position. He has performed at a pro bowl level for most of his career as the lead blocker for two of the most productive running backs (Taylor and Mojo) over the last 4 seasons.
I don’t want to invoke Greg Jones’ wrath if I keep him off this list.
Wide Receiver – Jimmy Smith
Of all the Jaguar players with phenomenal career statistics, Smith and Taylor have the best case for the hall of fame. Jimmy Smith went to 5 pro bowls and is the franchise leader in receptions, career receiving yards and touchdowns, and single season receptions and yards. He was a key player during Jacksonville’s magical run in 1996. You can also make the case that Smith was the best player over the longest period of time (1995-2005) that the Jaguars have had.
Wide Receiver – Keenan McCardell
Keenan made up the “Thunder” side of the Jaguars’ potent “Thunder and Lightning” duo at receiver from 1996 to 2001. While not as much of a playmaker as Smith, McCardell was a notoriously effective route runner and student of the game. He was an unfortunate cap casualty after the 2001 season, but that doesn’t keep him from being the 2nd best receiver in Jaguars history.
Tight End – Kyle Brady
This was probably the toughest call of all the positions along the offense. While Marcedes Lewis has had one outstanding, pro bowl season, he hasn’t been a consistent part of the offense since he entered the league. Kyle Brady was unspectacular but consistent as both a blocker and a pass catcher. At times, I remember yelling at the television because I felt he was underutilized in the offense. I fully expect Marcedes to take over this spot in a few years, but he has to earn it.
Offensive Tackle – Tony Boselli
The biggest no-brainer on this entire list is at left tackle. Despite his career being shortened by injuries, you could easily make the argument that Boselli is the best player to ever put on a Jaguar uniform. In the golden era for left tackles in the NFL, Boselli was conceivably the most effective. He was named to the All-Pro first-team three years and he went to 5 pro bowls. If he played 12 seasons instead of 7, Boselli would have been the first Jaguar in the hall of fame.
Offensive Tackle – Leon Searcy
The Jaguars boasted one of the best tackle tandems in the NFL when Leon Searcy held up the right side of the line in the late 90s. He only played 5 seasons with the team but he was a star on the offensive line for all of the Jaguars’ playoff runs and he managed to make the pro bowl in 1999.
Offensive Guard – Vince Manuwai
Before getting injured, Manuwai was one of the best run-blocking guards in the NFL. He was a mauler and led the way for great seasons by both Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew.
Offensive Guard – Chris Naeole
From 2002 to 2007, Naeole was a steady force on the offensive line and essentially made guard a position the team didn’t have to worry about. Along with Manuwai, Naeole played a big part in the Jaguars’ success rushing the ball.
Center – Brad Meester
Entering his 13th season with the team, Meester has solidified himself on this list of all-time Jaguars. He started out as guard, but since moving to center in 2003 his starting spot has never been in question. Meester’s career is likely coming to a close, but his steady presence on the offensive line won’t be forgotten for a long time.
Next week I’ll reveal the first team defense, but until then feel free discuss and question who I have on the offense!