Just Thinkin’ Out Loud About the Jags…
By David Johns
I was talking to a very good friend of mine last week. We must have talked ourselves into a coma about how this is the time of year where it’s absolutely awful to be a fan of the NFL, no matter what team you love and support. The intense signing period of free agency has come and gone. The draft was almost three months ago. OTAs and mini-camps have passed leaving us waiting in suspense for the start of training camp. I’ve gone so crazy to the point I even emailed our editor, Mr. Sims complaining about how brutal this time of year really is.
LeBron finally got his ring. The homerun derby was last night if you like that kind of thing. Other than that, there’s not a whole lot going on in the world of sports. If you’re a die hard, all in Jags fan like myself you’re constantly thinking about the team. What went wrong last season? What can improve? I think I’ve written too many articles on the wide receiver position, and fellow writer Mr. Terry O’Brien even called me out on it. Hey, I can’t blame you, Terry. Believe me I know it’s redundant, but it’s what I’m thinking about. So this week, I will provide you with a list of topics and issues that have been running through my bald head the past seven days. Enjoy!
1. The ball is in MJD’s court. It’s obvious Gene Smith is NOT going to pay him. He can either show up to camp or sit at home where he DEFINITELY won’t get any new money.
2. Speaking of MJD, this is your opportunity, Rashad Jennings. It’s time to see what you’ve got if our beloved running back does decide to holdout through camp.
3. Many writers, local and national, believe that Laurent Robinson will start out the season as the #1 receiver. According to several NFL experts, wide receiver is the most difficult position to make the transition between college and pro. This will be a good thing for Justin Blackmon. Let him learn the playbook and such.
4. Regarding the wide receiver position, many people (myself included) are wondering just who will fill out the rest of the slots available. I’m not saying it’s not important, but I’ve been thinking about such ideas. After reading a recent post by Mr. Sims, it’s dawned on me that we need to “move those chains” a bit more in 2012. We don’t necessarily need to be more “explosive” but instead be more “effective”. If and when MJD does come back, I still think he’d be a better option in the passing game than some of the receivers and tight ends (Lewis included) already on the roster making our 3rd receiver in all actuality the 4th option when throwing the ball. If MJD does holdout, I wonder how Jennings is catching the ball out of the backfield.
5. While on the topic of 3rd receivers, I’m a Mike Thomas supporter. In my very humble opinion, he did not quit on the team and will benefit from how defenses play Robinson and Blackmon.
6. I’m not very optimistic about Mercedes Lewis. I hope that he proves me wrong.
7. I wonder if Mathis can cover in the slot. After thinking about our corners, I’d feel much more comfortable with Cox and Ross covering other team’s starting receivers. But what would I know? I’m just some guy.
8. Other than Blackmon, I truly do believe that Branch will be the player we think he is. The defense has to get more pressure. Notice I said “pressure” and not “sacks.” Of course it’s important to hit the quarterback, but often times it’s just as important to create chaos overall. Branch could provide a certain element of speed in our pass rush that was lacking in 2011.
9. Get Scobee signed…then get him in range!
10.Our linebackers are tackling machines and we have some pretty good run stuffers in Alualu and Knighton. I’m hoping that running on this year’s defense will be the equivalent to running into a brick wall.
11. After the draft, I read something somewhere stating that we could possibly use 6th round pick cornerback Mike Harris in wildcat packages. Yes, I’m serious.
12. If we have 27 players on IR again, look for another bum season. I’m looking forward to the returns of Eben Britton, Rashad Jennings, Derek Cox, Clint Sessions, and Rashean Mathis.
13. I wonder how young players drafted last year such as Will Rackley, Cecil Shorts III, and forgotten picks, Chris Prosinski, and Rod Isaac will do in 2012.
14. Which draft picks other than Blackmon, Branch, and Anger will make the biggest impact this season. I’m calling Jeris Pendelton. Just a hunch.
I didn’t say anything about Gabbert even though he has not escaped my train of thought. But everyone knows exactly what he has to do in 2012. At the very least he can’t lose games for us. I’m looking for him to show more poise in the pocket, and reports state that he’s already showing more leadership qualities.
To anyone living in Jacksonville, JEEZ IT’S HOT! Who is ready for training camp!?
-David R. Johns