Former Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith left Jacksonville as the scape goat of a failing franchise. The constant underwhelming top 10 draft picks, lost seasons, and unfulfilled promises fell squarely on his shoulders. For the most part I agree with it, as I spent much of the last two years publically calling for his head on a stake. Now the Jags have David Caldwell and the fan base is more ramped up with excitement than they have been in years. The media seems to be covering the Jaguars a lot more than usual. Coupled with the new logo and uniforms, the initial grades of the team’s 2013 draft are very high from ESPN’s Mel Kiper to Pete Prisco of CBS Sports.
Before we crown David Caldwell the savior of Jacksonville, we should all dust off the archives of 2009 and compare the Jaguars then and now:
|Year: 2009||Year: 2013|
|Previous Record: 5-11||Previous Record: 2-14|
|GM: Gene SmithNFL Experience: |
-1994-1999: Jaguars College Scout
-2000-2007: Jaguars Director of College Scouting
-2008: Jaguars Executive Director of College and Pro Personnel
|GM: David CaldwellNFL Experience: |
-1996-1997: Panthers Scouting Assistant
-1998-2007: Colts Area Scout
-2008-2011: Falcons Director of College Scouting
-2012: Falcons Director of Player Personnel
|Plan for team: Get younger||Plan for team: Bring in competition|
|First Draft Pick: Eugene Monroe, LT||First Draft Pick: Luke Joeckel, LT|
|Coach: Jack Del RioPrevious Employment: |
-Carolina Panthers Defensive Coordinator. Took a 30th ranked defense to 2nd ranked defense.
-Jaguars head coach since 2003
|Coach: Gus BradleyPrevious Employment: |
-Seattle Seahawks Defensive Coordinator. Took 27th ranked defense to 4th ranked defense.
– No previous NFL head coaching experience
|Best Record as GM: 8-8 (2010). No playoff appearances.||Best Record as GM: TBD|
Now there are some clear differences. Caldwell’s team has a new coaching staff, ownership, and even logo and uniforms. But Shad Khan isn’t going to step on the field any more than the Jags previous owner Wayne Weaver did. The new logo isn’t going to catch any more touchdowns than the old one did.
While many differences are apparent, there are some similarities between the 2009 team and 2013 team. Both drafted rookies expected to start immediately, which is always a gamble. Both have a glaring weakness at pass rush. Gene Smith chose to draft some secondary players and rely on previously drafted defensive ends Derek Harvey and Quinton Groves to improve. David Caldwell Chose to draft secondary players and rely on previously drafted Andre Branch and recently acquired Jason Babin.
Did Gene’s plan work? Hell no.
Will David’s? Man, I hope so.