Training Camp Starts on Friday! Things are finally beginning to come together for the Jaguars and everything that we’ve hoped has occurred this offseason will be put down on paper in measurables. We’ll get a new look at the offensive line and get glimpses at just how effective they will be at protecting Blaine Gabbert in year two. We’ll get to see how much progress Gabbert has made and whether he has any rapport with his new receiving toys. We’ll get to see if Maurice Jones-Drew comes to camp.
There’s a lot to look at during training camp, a whole lot of potential, and it’s all going to boil over because of one man: Mike Mularkey.
Training camp is a time for sports enthusiasts to take a break from baseball and turn their attention to football. It’s a time when information seems plentiful and the oasis of NFL football rescues us from the mundane offseason. Yet as much as we enjoy it, we put no work in. That is not so for the head coach.
Each year, mini-camps and training camps are the brainchild of the head coach. The drills, timing, sets, number of reps, organization of players, division of labor among coaches, everything is decided by the head coach. He sets it all up, and without him there wouldn’t be the oasis of football we all crave.
Mularkey has experience in training camps as a player, assistant coach, coordinator, and head coach. He knows the ins and outs of how to run a camp better than most players on the Jaguars roster know how to do drills. Each time Mularkey hunkers down on the sideline to watch Bob Bratkowski’s offense in action he will be watching for something to correct. Will it be Gabbert’s shoulder level, Greg Jones’ blocking, or maybe Justin Blackmon’s failure to begin a circus catch from his left foot? We don’t know, but the seasoned eyes of Bratkowski, Mularkey, and wide receiver coach Jerry Sullivan will.
The team is coming into training camp hot. Not as hot as Ryan Kalil and the Panthers – who apparently think they will win a Super Bowl – but hotter than they have in the past few years. The battles and focus in this year’s camp will not be the Oklahoma Drill and pitting first round picks against older first round picks. This year will be about perfection.
The brand-new offense of the Jaguars has been installed, is understood by everyone (except Maurice Jones-Drew) and will be honed to perfection this training camp. No longer will Gabbert be taking reps with the third team and watching David Garrard throw. No longer will Rashad Jennings be thinking about what could have been last season. No longer will Laurent Robinson be thinking about who he has to beat to gain a roster spot. Those questions are answered because the situation in Jacksonville is coming together under Mularkey.
Like a puzzle, the pieces in Jacksonville are coming together to show a near-complete picture. Mularkey has set all the edge pieces out and it is now the job to fill in the rest. He’s done such a good job thus far that all the players have to do is do as they’re told.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims