Questions Moving Forward


May is the month of mystery as many questions surface around the NFL. With the Jaguars, I have three questions on their offseason program. Is durability going to continue being a problem? How special do our Special Teams need to be? Are draft picks being wasted?

Is durability going to continue being a problem?
There were 31 total players on the Jaguars I.R. list this past season, 6 of which were waived once healthy. Players like Aaron Kampman, Derek Cox, Rashean Mathis, Rashad Jennings, Eben Britton and Clint Session, were all placed on this list last season; which forced the Jags to play younger, unproven talent to fill in. Coupled with the league last offense, the Jaguars ended with a 5-11 record.

Tom Myslinski, the Jaguars new Strength and Conditioning coach, was hired in late January 2012 after working for the Clevland Browns for three years at the same position. Former coach Luke Richesson was fired last season.  And last season’s I.R. shows why. Richesson was hired after injures plagued the Jaguars in the 2008-2009 season. Hopefully, Myslinski won’t be a repeat of Richesson.

How special do our Special Teams need to be?
The Jaguars will, “Not look back at the draft in Anger”, as they stand by their third round selection of punter Bryan Anger out of Cal. Some analysts and fans believe a punter has no place in the third round, as there is plenty of other talent still available. Could Bryan Anger still have been around in later rounds?  Yes, considering punters are normally drafted in rounds 6 and 7, as well as Brad Nortman being the only other punter drafted,
which was in round 6.

In Gene We Trust, to draft the best available player on the board. So what will it take for Anger to triumph and silence? How many punts will have to have a hang time of 5 seconds or higher? How many punts need to land inside the 20? How many coffin corner punts will he need to record? What will his average punt have to be for him to be a justifiable 3rd round selection?
Anger will be given a chance to prove his worth, but there should be no disappointment or anger, should Anger not pan out. I believe 2-4 round picks are vital for any team to build their roster, but I would much rather take a bust 3rd round punter, over any bust first round selection.

Are draft picks being wasted?
Since Gene Smith was promoted to GM in 2009, fans rejoiced for having a new man in charge over the Matt Millen-like Shack Harris. But how good have Gene’s picks been?

2009 brought on productive draft picks like Eugene Monroe, Eben Britton, Terrance Knighton, Derek Cox, Mike Thomas, Zach Miller and Rashad Jennings. So far so good as worth while draft picks, considering the only players remaining from the three previous draft are Marcedes Lewis, Maurice Jones-Drew and Uche Nwaneri. Only later round picks of wide receiers Jarett Dillard and Tiquan Underwoord were cut.

2010 brought in Tyson Alualu, D’Anthony Smith and Austen Lane. Alualu was a shock at pick 10 but has proved his worth as a solid player. D’Anthony will get his first chance at playing barring another injury since being placed on I.R. his first 2 seasons. Austen Lane achieved a small amount of buzz last season, but has only achieved 1 sack and 34 tackles as a back up. Later round picks Larry Hart, Deji Karim and Scotty McGee were all cut.

2011 still needs another year for better evaluation as picks Blaine Gabbert and Will Rackley were the only two players to actually play a significant amount of time. Gabbert was noted as playing scared, and I would too with a line letting up 40 sacks.  Not to mention a serious lack of a decent receiver corps. Rackley played like a rookie but has the chance to anchor himself at LG this next season. Cecil Shorts III is currently being buried on the roster with Justin Blackmon, Laurent Robinson and Mike Thomas almost certain locks at the top 3 on the depth chart. Chris Prosinski was set back to injuries, but it looks like Dwight Lowery and Dawan Landry are locking down both safety slots. Rod Issac has yet to obtain a statistic and is also buried behind newer additions.

No one is perfect, but Gene Smith has done a good job by both attracting free agents and attempting to build through the draft. Not every decision will receive praise and not every pick and free agent will work out, but Gene has done his job  to put the best team on the field as possible.

In Gene We Trust

– Antonio Furgiuele