July 27, 2012; Jacksonville FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars helmets sit on the sideline during their first afternoon of training camp practice at Florida Blue Health

Questions After 12 Days of Camp

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Football is back and the Jags have been in camp for nine days now. Reports out of every NFL team’s camp can be somewhat difficult to read too much into. If you check any website for any particular team, it sounds as if everyone will be in contention for the Lombardi trophy. According to most writers, the team they study will have pretty much improved just about everything that they did not do well the previous season. So in a nutshell, all 32 teams have solved all problems and are officially really awesome.

Last week I read an article on deadspin.com. If you want to check it out, click here.

The article is titled, Why Your Team Sucks 2012: Jacksonville Jaguars. It seems like this writer pretty much does this with several NFL teams, and while it is a very entertaining read how accurate is it?

Heading into the next week of training camp, I’m going to discuss some thoughts on the offensive side of the ball since the entire nation is as well.

Quarterback:

Did you really think you could read an article on the Jags without reading about Blaine Gabbert? At the scrimmage Blaine led some touchdown drives and completed some solid intermediate throws to his backs and receivers. It looked as if the focus of his game was basic: positive plays and protect the ball.

We could analyze his numbers and what people “say” whether it’s good or bad all day long. We could defend him or tear him down. It’s just what writers do. More than anything, it looked as if Gabbert was…wait for it…confident. This is his team. This is his offense. Deal with it.

How much of this is attributed to it being “just a scrimmage” is yet to be determined. I’m just happy he’s not Kevin “Glassman” Kolb. After last season we at least know Blaine can take a hit right?

Running Back:

If Rashad Jennings runs anything during the regular season like he did Friday night, we’ll be in good hands. No, he’s not going to be Maurice Jones-Drew, but Jennings has shown time and time again that he is an NFL-calibre back with good hands.

I think a committee approach of Jennings, Parmele, and Owens will be more than enough for the running game to still be serviceable in this offense.

With each passing day I honestly wonder how this MJD situation will end. I don’t think he’s going to budge on this, and I know the front office will not. I just don’t see the point of keeping him here anymore. I don’t know what kind of effect it’s having on the locker room, but it can’t be helping. Why keep someone here who no longer wants to play for the team? Trade him to a franchise that will pay him, and in turn let’s get some high draft picks and invest in the future.

Offensive Line:

Peter King was at Everbank on Friday night, and trolling the twitter feeds like I often do, I came across a tweet of his talking about Brad Meester and just how underrated he really is. Other than that, it’s been nothing but injuries.

When Will Rackley went down with a high ankle sprain I didn’t even sweat it. Jason Spitz is a very good reserve lineman, and that’s why we signed him in free agency last year. Now it looks as if Spitz will be out a few weeks. Replacing Spitz at guard will be John Estes who has been our back up center for a couple of years now. Listed at the interior line positions are UDFA’s Dan Hoch, who just so happened to play college ball with Gabbert, D.J. Hall, and Mike Brewster. Continuity is key along the offensive line and training camp is crucial in developing that continuity. I just don’t see how a position like this can be effective with what seems like a constant revolving door.

Good news is Eugene Monroe is healthy.

Wide Receivers:

Peter King also tweeted about Cecil Shorts and how he will become a legit NFL receiver this season. Enough about Peter King. Justin Blackmon signed, and I can’t tell you just how thrilled I am he did. Granted, he will be behind but I’m looking forward to having another ingredient thrown into the soup. I hope Blackmon picks up the playbook and gets on the field A.S.A.P. Something tells me he’s more than likely a bit more sure-handed than the other receivers.

Speaking of the group as a whole, they have gotten a little bit better. I’d like to see more fire from Mike Thomas, but it really does look like he doesn’t care which is a shame because I’ve been a huge Mike Thomas supporter.

Laurent Robinson looks to have shaken off the pressure of being “the guy” and even caught a long pass from Gabbert at the scrimmage. Justin Blackmon joining the team should relieve some of the pressure seeing as how the original plan didn’t all fall on Robinson’s shoulders in the first place.

Kevin Elliot has been a nice surprise in camp and he seems to at least make a play per practice. I wouldn’t be shocked if he pushes Thomas for a spot. After all he actually looks like he wants to be a Jaguar.

I don’t think Lee Evans makes the 53.

I don’t like following what coaches say during training camp. Of course they’re going to say “so and so is doing better” and whatnot. I like watching the team and forming my own opinion and from what I see heading into the 2012 season…

Gabbert has to hold up better against real NFL pressure. I’m a firm believer that his game HAS improved since he had…ya know…a real offseason and training camp, but if he’s scared of getting hit then we truly do have a problem.

It’s not so much the injuries, but it’s the lack of depth behind our starters along the offensive line that scare me. That’s what happens when you don’t draft or sign an offensive lineman in the offseason.

I don’t care who does it, we have to be able to throw it down field this year. Blaine has to stand tall in the pocket and the receivers have to be able to stretch the field. I don’t care who says what right now we won’t know anything until the season opener, but we should get a good look this Friday night when the Super Bowl Champs New York Football Giants visit the River City for the preseason opener.

-David R. Johns

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Tags: Blaine Gabbert Brad Meester Cecil Shorts D.J. Hall Dan Hoch Eugene Monroe Jacksonville Jaguars Jalen Parmele John Estes Justin Blackmon Kevin Elliot Kevin Kolb Laurent Robinson Maurice Jones-drew Mike Brewster Mike Thomas Montell Owens Rashad Jennings Will Rackley

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