The Jacksonville Jaguars recently concluded their 2017 offseason program with three veteran minicamps. Today, Coloring With Teal will look at whether or not the team truly “won” the offseason, and whether that matters ahead of training camp and the preseason.
Author’s note: for some reason, I really like the word “prognosticate”, as you may recall from my Mock Draft Mockery article. It will show up again today. Just letting you know.
It’s been a while since we last met, and now that the offseason program has ended I wanted to take a look at the Jaguars’ offseason again.
You see, after the start of the league year and free agency back in March, the Jaguars were lauded for their solid acquisitions. You may recall this was the case in 2016 as well.
Then, at the end of April, Jacksonville was deemed a “winner” in the NFL Draft for drafting running back Leonard Fournette followed by OT Cam Robinson. Of course, this, too, happened last year as well.
There were a few articles that suggested that the Jaguars had “won” the offseason. However, there were many last year that had done so. This is why no one wants to get on board with projecting wins to the oft-underachieving Jags for 2017. But how can we know whether or not the team “won” the offseason?
One of the biggest challenges of writing articles between January and August is identifying topics worthy of writing about. As a result, immediately after each stage of the offseason come a slew of articles grading each team’s moves and acquisitions. At least during the season we can divide up a week into the Sunday night-Monday post-game analysis, the Tuesday press conference analysis, the Wed-Thursday Pregame analysis, and the Friday Expert Pick-“em”s. Saturdays, of course, are for watching College Football. (here’s looking at you, FanSided CFB!)
It’s all so structured and easy.
It’s a lot less structured in the offseason. But for all the entertainment that the offseason articles give us, we really don’t know much more about the team’s pending fortunes when most of those articles are written.
After the 2016 NFL Draft, the Jaguars earned the lead story in NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal’s Winners and Losers article:
"The Jacksonville Jaguars will not be a “sleeper” playoff pick this year. They will be too popular for that."
While he was generally right about the improvement in Jacksonville’s defensive squad, he, like many others, missed the target on the whole team’s success (or rather, failure).
Keep in mind, however, that he made his prognostication (score another one!) on April 30, just
after the draft but well ahead of any football work.
Fast forward to this offseason.
“Winning the offseason is certainly more than just roster moves from March through May”
Again, the Jaguars have “won” the 2017 NFL Free Agency, according to CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco.
Again, the Jaguars have come away winners of the 2017 NFL Draft.
In a seemingly random-timed article, Tim Rohan at TheMMQB.si.com gave the Jaguars’ offseason an A- on June 8. But as nice as that was, wasn’t it a bit too soon to give that assessment?
After the close of 2016 minicamp last June, Jaguars.com senior editor John “Oh-zher” Oehser reported then-head-coach Gus Bradley’s perspective of the team:
"“I didn’t know how long it would take them to come together, and I like how fast I’ve seen them come together,” Bradley said. “We still have some work to do, but with the addition of some of the free agents, the development of some of our players, the rookies we’ve incorporated … we talk about a race to maturity; we’re seeing that.”Bradley said the team made significant strides the last four weeks.“I really, really like the feel of this team,” he said. “I really like how they’re energized and their approach to it and their mindset.”"
Now, hindsight being the 20/20 that it is, it is rather easy to look back and take a derisive view of Bradley’s coaching. But that’s not my point. My point is the general difference in demeanor and mindset. Keep in mind that Gus canceled the third and final on-field mini-camp practice in favor of some team-building.
"“That was my main thing coming in, knowing ‘We’ve got to start this foundation that way,’’’ Marrone said. “I think we have made strides in that area and we’re going to have to keep that up.’ …“We’ve got a long way to go, but I think now there’s a vision of where we need to get to as far as being in shape, how strong we want to be, how fast we want to practice and how many plays we want to get run.”"
On the face of it, the quotes look virtually the same. Both admit that the team isn’t as far as the coaches believe the team can go. However, the subtle difference lies in their level of excitement. Gus was excited about the team, and there is nothing necessarily wrong with that.
On the other hand, Doug’s excitement is tempered, if existent at all. His demeanor suggests that the job is not only not done yet, but definitely needs more work. That is a winner’s approach. It keeps the focus on the ultimate goal: getting ready for the challenge.
Bradley was a nice guy and all, but as a head coach he lacked the seriousness to drive the team under his watch. He tried to use enthusiasm and optimism as motivators, but those qualities are extremely difficult to use as motivators. There comes a real risk of crossing the line between optimism and wishful thinking, when unspecific goals of improvement become unfocused activities that struggle to help the player maximize their potential.
More from Black and Teal
- Jacksonville Jaguars should welcome Derrick Henry into the kingdom
- Jaguars Rumors: Trent Baalke seems to be getting respect now
- Bold trade proposal has Jacksonville Jaguars shipping LT Cam Robinson
- Jaguars News: This division rival might be making a big move
- Former Jacksonville Jaguars S Johnathan Cyprien: “New Profession, Same Standards”
So what does it take to win the offseason? It is certainly more than just roster moves from March through May. It must include organized team activities, film studies with coaching feedback, meetings and playbook immersion. Most of that doesn’t even take place until after the NFL Roster Season (a.k.a. Free Agency and Draft).
Granted, I too joined in waving the team flag during Roster Season, but in order to fully evaluate the offseason, we really had to wait until the conclusion of minicamps.
I’d be interested to see how the prognosticators (another one!) judge the league’s team offseasons based on the Roster Season AND the analysis of the teams’ minicamp developments.
As for the Jaguars, I think they are well on their way towards truly winning the offseason. Unfortunately, we won’t know better until we see how the team returns for training camp.