As training camp starts, Jaguars fans are looking for significant growth at key positions. Wide receiver, Defensive Line, and potentially at running back, to name a few. Yet, it’s no secret that the expectation for growth is highest at quarterback.
A quick look at the Jaguars’ QB play from last year, courtesy of Football Outsiders, gives a clear picture of the work that needs to be done by the Jaguars quarterback. And as if that weren’t enough, we’re expecting even more from a second year player entering his first real offseason. Yes, from training camp all the way to the end of the season, we’re expecting more than just offensive development from our young football-slinging grasshopper. We’re expecting him to develop into a quarterback.
It’s arguable that the Jaguars have never had a quarterback in its truest sense – not just a player who slings passes all over the field, but a player who commands the offense, is a spokesman for his team, and is the face of his franchise. The only player who comes close to fitting the bill is Mark Brunell, a player who only hit the 250 yd/gm mark once and the 20 TD mark twice in his Jaguars career. We need more than a player that can hit our wide receivers in stride (although, after last year’s offensive display, I’d settle for that). We need a player that commands respect, that players will listen to, that young Jaguar fans will look up to, and that Jaguar nation will whole-heartedly support. We need a player whose jersey is ubiquitous around Everbank Field and whose name is in people’s minds as soon as they hear the words Jacksonville Jaguars. We need a go-to player for national media interviews – a player whose sound bites will define the Jaguars. We need a player that will go all in for us and us for him.
We’ve been lucky to have a player like this in Maurice Jones-Drew, and it’s hard not to hope the best for him even while he’s staying away from Jaguars’ camp. But at the end of the day, a team needs a quarterback to be this leader. A team needs the direction, the longevity, and the stature of a quarterback to become its face, its star, and its ambassador.
As we enter the new season with a top 10 draft pick at the helm, we can only hope that he fares better than the last one we had. Even despite his offensive shortcomings, Byron never felt like this team’s leader. But that’s what we need Blaine to be… and what we expect him to be.
When I look out on the field next season, I’ll be looking at more than throwing mechanics and footwork. I’ll be looking at more than completion percentage, number of touchdowns thrown, and number of come-from-behind victories. I’ll be looking for confidence, charisma, and swagger. I’ll be looking for how he carries himself and how his teammates respond. I’ll be looking for a Jaguar to stand up among the others and make a name for himself – and his team – in the process.
– Zain Gowani