The Jacksonville Jaguars are in a unique situation that we haven’t been in a long time. They have made a lot of moves. Releasing some veterans. Re-signing others. Bringing in some free agents. Through all of this, there has been nary a misstep. Not one. Nothing splashy. Nothing sexy. Just fundamentally smart front office decisions. I like that. Actually…I’m enjoying the crap out of this. The Jaguars had become the George W. Bush of the NFL. By that I mean that sports reporters, ESPN, even talk show hosts, would just sit with their guns cocked, waiting for any action by the Jags so they could blast the decision. Sometimes it was justified but completely blown out of proportion. Others were not. They were actually incredibly misinformed and unprofessional at times. It sucks being the league whipping boy when there are so many more ripe targets.
But I digress.
The media must all be wearing Depends right now because they have been waiting for months to pee on the Jaguars parade for some boneheaded decision. It ain’t happened. Not even close. Their bladders must be bursting. The compliments for the Jags began late last season. They were reported with gritted teeth. Backhanded compliments that exposed the media’s depression that they were losing the nerd they loved shoving into lockers.
Coach Bradley and his staff then coached at the Senior Bowl and two things came out of that situation in the media. First the normal “which players are going to move up the draft boards and which disappointed.” The other was…The Jags have a hell of a coach there. Everyone from players, NFL personnel, fellow coaches, and (God forbid) the media sang his praises. It was well earned and refreshing.
We now have reacted in the free agency frenzy period. I don’t know about you but I was expecting a quiet first couple of days. No fireworks. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Did we bring in Michael Johnson or Jared Allen. No. But we signed Chris Clemons, for probably one fifth of the cost and he could prove to be just as productive. We release Uche Nwaneri (who’ll I’ll miss), which scared the hell out of me because our cupboards were already bare. Then they bring in Zane Beadles, and you realize we aren’t in the Gene Smith era (Dark Ages) any longer. This front office knows what they are doing. It feels great having a ringside seat to watch it all develope.
The signings of Clemons, Beadles, Ziggy Hood (throwing a bone to the Gator fans), Toby Gerhart, Red Bryant, Dekoda Watson, and Tandon Doss have proven to be the right guys at the right price. Usually we couldn’t get guys like this, especially this early in the process. We were looked upon as a “last resort” signing option, which would cause free agents to leave unsigned looking for better options. It also caused the team to get in desperation mode and overpay to convince some to come here. This year and this franchise is now different. Every player as a whole has said they wanted to come here. They like the direction. They like to coach. They like Dave Caldwell. It doesn’t appear to be money grabs. They see the team forming and want to be a part of it. God I’m proud to be a Jaguar fan right now. Thanks Dave & Gus.
The re-signing of Bradfield, Harbor, Henne, Babin, and Blackmon. All wise decisions and financially beneficial to the franchise now and in the future. The releasing of Nwaneri was difficult for fans but prodent. The parting of ways with Justin Forsett showed this franchise is not embarrassed to admit they made a mistake. Allowing MJD to explore free agency is a tough one. Has his production receded? Absolutely. Will he be missed if he signs elsewhere? As a fan, definately. As a person able to recognise eroding skills, RB age cliffs, and salary cap implications…it had to be done this way. This is coming from someone with currently five MJD jerseys in my house. (A personal note to Maurice…PLEASE DON’T SIGN WITH THE STEELERS…They are just…so OBNOXIOUS!!)
So long story short. It’s good to be a Jaguar fan…regardless of our recent history. It truly is a new team, run with confidence and knowledge.
A few random thoughts to leave you with:
- After Blake Bortles’ pro day, he is the first of these in coming college QBs that could be worthy of a number 3 pick in the draft. I’m afraid now he will no longer be on the board when we pick.
- After Teddy Bridgewater‘s pro day….I hate to be an “I told you so”….But I TOLD YOU SO!! That’s what I saw in him. Some QBs when they hit adversity, their eyes squint and you know their mind is working and their pride is kicking in. Other QBs eyes seem to get really big and you know they’re about to release their bowels right on the field. I’m just sayin…”Paging Geno Smith…Paging Geno Smith…”
- Isn’t is amazing how having a capable front office, a charismatic coach, and making rational well thought out roster decisions has quieted the “Haters” in the world. I haven’t heard about the Jaguars combined with Los Angeles or London since I can’t remember when. It’s nice.
- What is going to be so cool in May is that if Dave Caldwell doesn’t trade down at any point to accumulate more picks, it will truly mean that it’s a pick that they covet. The world is our oyster this draft and I can’t wait to see the pearl!
- You know how when a team signs a free agent and they hold their conferences and they all say “I just want to come here, contribute, and be part of something special”. I usually just look like “yeah…And you got paid well to talk like that”. But you listen to these players, both re-signed and free agents, and they all sound sincere. They sound like they have a purpose. It’s truly inspiring and it’s all about Coach Bradley. When he first got here and chirped all his rah rah stuff, I was amused. When we were in the midst of one of the worst opening of a season in the history of the NFL and he was still spouting positivity about the team, I thought either he was disillusional or thought we were stupid. Now I realize how cult leaders get their followers because I have drank the koolaid. I will follow Gus Bradley into the teeth of the enemy and I know we will still lose some battles, but we WILL win the war. Damn…Can the season start already!!!
Alright…I’ve eaten up enough of your day. What this whole rant was about is that I think this franchise is at it’s strongest place since it’s inception and early success. The Jacksonville Jaguars may not make the playoffs in 2014. Hell, they may not even have a winning record. But the league will have to respect us again. We will be nobody’s doormat any longer. For the first time in many years, the Jaguars and their fans will have chests that will burst from pride. Get on the train, people. It’s pulling out of the station…and the destination is success! GO JAGS!!!
Wearing my Jaguar sweatshirt as I write this….Michael McDonald!
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