With a devastating defense and a great running attack, the only aspect of the game weighing the Jaguars down the past several seasons has been the passing game. Inconsistent play from wide receivers, and injuries to starting quarterback Byron Leftwich have been the two main culprits for the team's lack of success through the air. It now appears that Jacksonville is increasingly closer to bringing in quarterback Daunte Culpepper to help add some insurance incase Leftwich goes down again. The question is, would his addition be favorable to the Jaguars? Brendan Sonnone and Charlie Bernstein argue this point.
For a team just entering their prime, ready to make another stab at the playoffs, bringing in Culpepper will ruin the most important ingredient to any team looking to go the distance, and that is chemistry, which is already running low in the locker room with a disgruntled Leftwich, and an equally unhappy David Garrard. Both quarterbacks have been benched by Del Rio, but he has verbalized that Leftwich will be the Jaguars' man at quarterback this season. Although Leftwich's is playing out the last season of his contract, bringing in Culpepper, even for an insurance policy, would add even more animosity to the locker room. The general mood of the team would be in flames as Leftwich would again be moping around, and this is not what the Jags would want if they are trying to make it deep in the playoffs.
The Jags are virtually ruining the team's chemistry for the potential of a a 30-year-old quarterback who hasn't played in a whole season since 2004. In addition to the chemistry issues, Culpepper wasn't wanted by the Miami Dolphins, who were in dire need at that position, which tells me that they were far from impressed on Culpepper's health status. The Jags are gambling on too much, hoping he will find the magic he had before his devastating knee injury, when he was throwing to the likes of Randy Moss and Chris Carter. Even then he was working on a 1:2 TD-to-INT ratio before his injury.
Sure, Culpepper will bring notoriety to the Jaguars, but he will also come with a disruptive presence in the locker room (not because of his personality but just because of his presence), and a handful of questions regarding health and overall current ability. This is one of those cases where the risks are too much and outweigh the rewards.
My esteemed colleague makes some good points about Daunte Culpepper's health, but I don't buy into all the chemistry issues. As we all know, there are no guaranteed contracts in the NFL and players are virtually performing on a year-to -year basis. Byron Leftwich is already in the last year of his deal and he knows that he has to play big to earn himself another job, whether it be in Jacksonville, or somewhere else. Leftwich has had to look over his shoulder for the last three years, and the only difference having Culpepper on the roster would make would be Leftwich seeing a different reflection in the rear-view. As Brendan stated earlier, chemistry is likely already low in the locker room so really, what's the difference?
Regarding Culpepper's health, no one knows how far along he actually is at this point. The Jaguars will have their trainer's look at him before a deal is struck, and if he is indeed deemed ready to play, he becomes an immediate upgrade over any of the other backup quarterbacks. Culpepper is a guy who can look past his first progression and has made multiple Pro Bowls in his career. Culpepper's presence also gives the team some kind of insurance if Leftwich leaves after this season, and could offer the Jaguars some leverage in negotiating with Byron. Not to mention the obvious, which is if Byron goes down with an injury, as he has the last three seasons, the team will have a fighting chance of winning some games with a veteran backup, rather than what happened down the stretch in '06. From a talent standpoint, the team is trying to improve the roster, and if you're a Jaguar fan, isn't that really what you want? Or would you rather have a repeat of 12/17/06 game in Tennessee?
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com and Sportsillustated.com