Maurice Jones-Drew (Getty Images)
There is very rarely a such thing as a moral victory in professional sports. Front office personnel, players, and franchises in general are judged by the bottom line which is wins and losses. I’m a firm believer in that line of thinking, and that’s why it’s difficult for me to type this next statement—the Jaguars 2009 season shouldn’t be judged by their win/loss record.
Even if they won’t completely come out and say it, the Jaguars are in a rebuilding mode. 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.
The Jaguars are turning the page with a “new” General Manager, in Gene Smith, and the team appears to have a new business plan which involves building through the draft with younger players. The team also appears to be building from the inside out, as they spent their first three draft picks addressing both lines.
Although there is no reason to believe that this team in Jacksonville won’t be competitive from week to week, there are certainly some issues, especially on defense. One area of need is 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. It is more than possible that neither Henderson nor Meier will be on the opening week’s roster, and the Jaguars will likely depend on this year's third-round pick, former Temple defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, as well as journeyman Atiyyah Ellison.
Many believed that the Knighton pick was a reach, but the Jaguars obviously believe that he can be an impact player early on.
"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."
The Jaguars also have questions at safety and corner, and depth concerns at linebacker. Throw in a wide receiving corps that aside from Torry Holt, who will be learning a new system with a new quarterback, caught a total of 21 passes in the NFL a year ago.
There are also major questions at quarterback, as David Garrard has proven himself to be a great athlete, but not yet a great quarterback at the NFL level. Garrard must live up to the sizeable contract he was granted after the 2007 season, or else he could be in for a change of employment in the offseason.
No team in the NFL is without issues, but the Jaguars have more of these question marks than most franchises. If the Jaguars young defensive linemen and wide receivers can step up and play well, and David Garrard can prove that he’s a top-tiered passer, the Jaguars can call their 2009 season a success, even if the playoffs aren’t in their immediate future.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive and host of the CB Sports Radio Show on ESPN 1420, 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.
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