Jack Del Rio (Phil Coale/AP)
Following the Jaguars disappointing 2008 campaign in which they finished 5-11, the team went back to the proverbial drawing board to reevaluate the current talent on the roster. Upon that evaluation, wholesale changes were made to the wide receiving corps, and nearly each and every player that had a run-in with the law or the coaching staff was sent packing.
"I want people in the locker room and on this team to have the substance of character that when you have difficult times or you are faced with adversity they are going to respond in a positive way," Jaguars new GM Gene Smith said.
The Jaguars said goodbye to longtime fixtures of the team, such as Fred Taylor, Paul Spicer, and Mike Peterson, as well as saying good riddens to free agent busts Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence. The team also washed their hands of underachieving draft picks such as Matt Jones, Reggie Williams, Khalif Barnes, and Gerald Sensabaugh, and now the squad that takes the field this September will have a much different look of the one that finished 2008.
"I believe in having a locker room full of unselfish players, a staff of unselfish coaches, and that together we can accomplish great things," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said.
Although some of the team's moves may prove to be addition by subtraction, there is still a lot of talent missing which will likely force some younger, inexperienced players into roles that they may not be quite ready for. These are the growing pains of a team that's re-tooling, even if they don't want to go as far as using the term "rebuilding."
The Jaguars have certain questions on the defensive side of the ball that need to be answered, and it's very unclear whether the rookies that they will be counting on will be able to be contributors early on. One area of need is certainly at defensive tackle. Former first-round pick John Henderson is aging, Rob Meier showed that he wasn’t nearly as effective as many believed when forced into a starting role a year ago, and although Derek Landri added weight in the offseason, the third-year player from Notre Dame will likely still be a situational guy. The Jaguars will likely depend on this year's third-round pick, former Temple defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, who was considered to be a third-round reach by many draft experts.
"The Jaguars definitely reached big time with Terrance Knighton in the third," Scout.com NFL Draft Expert Chris Steuber said on the CB Sports Radio show last week. "Knighton was a solid player at Temple, but nobody I talked to had him going before the fifth round."
Perhaps the most glaring hole for the Jaguars in 2009 will be at strong safety, as they let Gerald Sensabaugh walk in free agency and replaced him with former Philadelphia Eagle Sean Considine. Considine is a solid special teams player, but is considered to be a liability in coverage. Jacksonville didn't draft anyone at safety, and with there being little more than scraps left in free agency, the team will likely have to depend on Considine to be a starter, a job that few think he's equipped to handle.
“Whether that (winning the starting job) happens or not, it’s going to be up to the competition that goes on and I’m just looking forward to a challenge, which I know I’ll get down here," Considine said.
Offensively, the team has an entirely new corps of wide receivers and that is probably a good thing, being that the last set seemingly left the organization and the fan base frustrated year after year. Still, the team is depending on a 32-year old veteran who doesn't possess the foot-speed he once had in Torry Holt, as well as a pair of rookies that were second-day picks in Mike Thomas and Jarett Dillard. Throw in a veteran who has always had issues with his hands in Dennis Northcutt, and a talented, yet injury prone wideout in Mike Walker, and although wide receiver appears to be an improvement, it's a position that's far from settled.
Every team in the NFL has "pimples," or if you prefer to use the term "holes" on their rosters. The Jaguars have a few more than most of last season's playoff teams, and that's to be expected with a team in the midst of a youth movement coming off a 5-11 season.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
For more, go to: JagNation.com