A year ago Mike Munchak came to the Tennessee Titans after they parted ways with long-time head coach Jeff Fisher. It was year three of the Jaguars rebuild. The Jags finished third, ahead of only the hapless, Manning-less Colts. In year four of the rebuild it looks like the Titans’ first-year magic was fleeting, but the Colts have found some genuine magic.
While Gene Smith has been general manager for four years, we Jacksonville fans tend to forget that we were competitive in 2010 and almost held the AFC South title in our hands. That all ended when we lost to the Colts and then lost the rest of the games in the season in a classic Jack Del Rio late-season meltdown.
The way I see it, we’re in year one of our rebuild.
We have the same GM, but he gave us some solid pieces. We don’t have a league-leading receiver in Reggie Wayne, but we have a Pro-bowl caliber left tackle, a gifted running back, a quarterback who is making strides (truly), a couple wide receivers who could get really good later, a defense that can be stout when healthy, and a head coach whose fire is no longer in doubt.
Whether or not Smith is a part of the rest of the rebuild is up to Shad Khan, but he’ll deserve some of the credit for trying to kickstart a roster that was well organized in 2010 but failed due to circumstance in 2011. David Garrard was never Tom Brady, but losing him threw a wrench into things. Garrard was a man for whom the offense was tailored. If the offensive line wasn’t any good, Garrard could get outside and throw quite well. He was mobile, he could extend plays, and he was a smart player – if a little too safe sometimes.
Without him the wheels fell off.
The way the defense played last year is a testament to the strength of the overall roster before losing Garrard. Then came the rebuild. Now, in year one of the official restart, the Jaguars are behind the struggling Titans and surprisingly strong Colts. It isn’t a matter of perception, it’s the truth. Does it usually take a team more than a year to build a winner? Yes. Just ask the not-as-great-as-last-year Panthers.
The Mike Mularkey era is the beginning here in Jacksonville.
It’s been a frustrating run for Jaguars fans in years past (and this year), but things will turn around. We’re left behind currently, but the rebuild is just starting. We’ve been jaded by half-rebuilds in years past. This is the beginning of the turn around.
We’re left behind now, but there will be steps coming that lead toward greater success and a brighter future.
- Luke N. Sims