With the season ending loss to the Colts, all Jags fans have to look forward to is next year. The Jaguars are heading in the right direction (and believe me, NOBODY felt 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 own five official Jacksonville Jaguar jerseys …So you know I’m 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 you’ve gotten it by now!!!
For the remaining three we will focus on the defense. We started with (DT &DE).
We will now look at our inside and outside linebackers.
Inside Linebackers – In the traditional 4-3 defense employed by the Jags, there is one middle back, That position is manned by, as far as I’m concerned, the Jags MVP, Paul Posluszny. A player brought in as a free agent in 2011, he has been nothing short of incredible. In three years, he has only missed one game. He has 419 tackles, along with seven sacks and seven interceptions. He has been one of the top three tacklers in the entire NFL for the last two years. The only speed bump is that Posluszny is a $9.5 hit on the salary cap for the next two years. He might be too much, even with the production. I hope we keep him. Backups are LaRoy Reynolds (exciting rookie) and Nate Stupar (JAG…Just another guy)…POSITION GRADE… A+…If no “Poz”…D+.
Outside Linebackers – Our outside backers are a great combo of returning and newcomer. Russell Allen, whose been with the Jags since 2009, is an interesting case. Allen became a starter in 2011. Signed a 3 year extension before 2012 season. He responded with an amazing 131 tackle season. This season, he played 14 games but fell to 64 tackles. Before 2012, he had averaged only 45 tackles a year. The Jags need to decided whether Allen was a one year wonder and maybe move on. The other outside back was free agent Geno Hayes. A FSU grad, Geno responded to a chance to start with a workman-like solid season before going on the IR the last two weeks of the season. Hayes is signed for one more year and is very affordable so I don’t see him going anywhere. the backups are John Lotulelei (rookie claimed from Seahawk’s release) and J.T. Thomas (more of an asset to our special teams than to the defensive rotation. VERY THIN. This position should be keenly looked at in the draft & free agency…POSITION GRADE…C+
The defense is set up for the interior lineman to tie up the line of scrimmage so the linebackers have free range to stop the run, while trying to cover the running backs and tight ends long enough for the defensive ends to get some sacks. The results have been fair to mostly poor. Surround “Poz” with better athletes and at least the running yards surrendered would drop considerably. Try looking for a rangy guy that has great around the corner speed that might increase our sack total.
See you in a couple of days with my final article, the grading of the cornerbacks and safeties.
My name is Michael McDonald and I approve this message.
Gimme offseason writing ideas on Twitter @Gumbussy