With the season coming to a conclusion, all Jags fans have to look forward to is next year. The Jaguars are heading in the right direction (and believe me, I didn’t feel this way in the first half of the season). Most of it has to do with the inspired coaching of Gus Bradley. A lot more can be attributed to GM David Caldwell. He had an excellent 2013 draft and was pretty spot on with free agents. I can’t wait to see what moves he makes this off-season.
I have watched the original “Longest Yard” over 50 times …So I’m EMINENTLY qualified to give my opinions on the state of the Jags at each position*. Where we are strong and where we need help. Let me know if you agree…
* = I truly hope my sarcasm is noted!!!
For the next three, we will focus on the defense. We will start with the defensive line.
Defensive Tackles – The initial starters in the 4-3 set are very clear. Sen’Derrick Marks was recently signed to a four year extension and it was well deserved. Next to Paul Posluszny, Marks was the most consistent presence on the defensive side. Roy Miller, like Marks, was brought in as a free agent and played well. He finished the year on the IR, but is expected back fully healthy next year. The remaining rotation of DT’s are either young and experienced, or castoffs from other teams. My guess right now is the next rotation would be Kyle Love (waiver wire acquisition from the Patriots) and Abry Jones (rookie out of Georgia). They seem to fit coach Gus Bradley’s scheme the best. If Tyson Alualu isn’t switched back to tackle, then the remaining tackles are Brandon Deaderick, Jordon Miller, & Drake Nevis. All fall under the “Jaguar System” of being 5 years or less of experience and affordable. All will probably be invited back to compete next year. POSITION GRADE… B- (I like the starters a lot, but no depth)
Defensive Ends – This one will be hard to grade accurately because so much depends on who returns next year. The starters are Jason Babin and Tyson Alualu. Babin led the Jags in sacks with 7.5, which was his best total since 2011. He also will be playing his 11th year in 2014, and is due to get just short of $6.2 million in 2014. That is WAY out of the Jags system on both ends. I have stated previously that I want Babin back not just because of his production and experience. I like Babin because he plays with an attitude. He’s like a poor man’s Jared Allen. The Jags are short on players that intimidate. Keep him. I do NOT want Alualu playing DE next year, or at least not starting. He was serviceable but truly uninspiring. The second best DE for the Jags was shockingly Andre Branch. He was the player who made the Cecil Shorts like transition this year. Going from lost and seemingly overmatched, to heady and all over the field was something to behold. Branch plays on the right side like Babin so he would have to convert to left. Hopefully he can because I’m excited to see what he brings in year three. The remaining players are Ryan Davis, D’Aundre Reed, Gerald Rivers, and Will Pericak. Between the four, they sport four years experience total, totaled 4 tackles and 1 sack for the year. To say we have a lack of depth is insulting depth. POSITION GRADE…(with Babin & Branch as starters) B+ (without Babin) C+ (without Babin & Alualu still starting at DE) D.
The defense was beaten up but good this year as they tried to establish who belonged where, and which players would fit in the system. We saw glimpses of improvement as the year progressed. I think another year will improve our sack totals more than the improvement we saw this year. It will all start on the line.
See you in a couple of days with my grading of the Linebackers.
Good Evening. I’m Michael McDonald and you’re not.
Is there anybody out there? I’m on Twitter @gumbussy.