Greg Cosell gave his opinion about what this year’s Super Bowl taught us, and to no great surprise, it’s all about who’s under center.
“It’s a quarterback driven league,” Cosell said. “You had Warner, who is a special quarterback, and you had Roethlisberger, who in his own way is a special quarterback. He’s a little unconventional, but he’s won more games in five years than any other quarterback and two Super Bowls. At the end of the day, it’s a quarterback driven league.”
So how does the Jaguars signal caller, David Garrard compare?
“What we essentially found out about Garrard is that he’s a quarterback that, most QB’s are like this (but some are not, Roethlisberger is special, he can win games and put a team on his back in critical situations). Garrard, I think we found out, has that tendency on rare occasion, he needs a complete offense (to be successful),” Cosell said.
How much did the injuries to the Jaguars offensive line affect the team in 2008?
“Their offensive line, first of all they lost their entire interior with the guards and the center,” Cosell explained. “And then LT Khalif Barnes had a poor season and he will not be back I’m sure. They have to revamp their O-line, but they feel good about their two guards returning. I think their o-line has to play significantly better.”
And how did that effect the rest of the offense?
“The Jaguars couldn’t run the ball this year at all, and Fred Taylor will not be back, so the question is, ‘what do they do at running back?’ Is Maurice Jones-Drew someone they can build the running game around? We know what Jack Del Rio wants to do, he wants to be physical on offense, and physical on defense. They had no physicality on offense last year.”
So without a physical offense, the team was forced to lean more heavily on the passing game which is certainly not a strength. Although Matt Jones had a breakout season, Cosell isn’t sure that he’s the answer.
“I think because he (Jones) was their best receiver, which ultimately is not saying an awful lot, I think they need receivers. When you’re dealing with Matt Jones, yeah, he caught the ball better, he did a better job running some routes, but he’s a limited receiver. You can’t build your receiving corps around Matt Jones. He’s basically a complimentary receiver.”
So what must the Jaguars do to get better on offense?
“They have no explosiveness on offense whatsoever,” Cosell explained. “Maurice Jones-Drew has explosiveness, we know that, but tight end has no explosiveness, Marcedes Lewis, they have no explosiveness at the wide receiver position, Garrard is being handcuffed right from the start.”
The Jaguars defense certainly underachieved in 2008 as well, and the NFL Films producer was not on board with their draft selections.
“Ultimately what they did last year was that they traded up to the eighth pick to get Derrick Harvey, and I thought it was a mistake,” Cosell weighed in. “I don’t think Harvey was worth the eighth pick in the draft, and they gave up an awful lot. We’ll see where he goes. I personally think he’s better as a left defensive end and more of a stout run stopper than a pass rusher. We’ll see how his career plays out, that’s how I had him evaluated and I think he played that way as a rookie, I don’t think you saw explosiveness.”
What about second-round pick Quentin Groves?
“They drafted Quentin Groves with their second pick in the draft. I think he’s got a little more juice to him than Harvey does as a pass rusher, but I think he’s got a long way to go. I didn’t quite see that same type of burst that you’d like to see from elite pass rushers. So they drafted two players that they expected to provide great pass rushing ability and they didn’t get it.”
The Jaguars recently dumped cornerback Drayton Florence, who they signed to a rich deal less than 12 months ago. The move was obviously a mistake, and Cosell weighed in on not only Florence, but safety Reggie Nelson as well—
“They signed Drayton Florence to a big number. When I watched Drayton Florence, that’s over his years in San Diego, I didn’t see him as a guy you would sign to a big number. I think he’s a number three cornerback, he’s not to me a starting NFL corner, but when you sign a guy to that number you have to put him out there. He ended up the year essentially being their nickel corner because ultimately he proved not to be quite good enough to be a starter, so they have to address their secondary as well. I also think Reggie Nelson hasn’t become the player that they thought he would be and frankly, what I thought he would be. I thought he would be a terrific free safety, watching him at Florida, he hasn’t really become that kind of player.”
Mistakes made last spring led to a nightmare 5-11 campaign in the fall for the Jaguars. There is plenty of work that needs to be done to the roster, and with the recent dismissals of Fred Taylor, Jerry Porter, and Drayton Florence, the team seems to be looking toward the future, instead of trying to rebuild through free agency.