Eugene Monroe (Getty Images)
Before any team starts a season, there are always a handful of questions to answer. How will the quarterback play be? Will your top players stay injury free? Does your team have enough depth to overcome injuries?
There is seemingly an endless list of questions that coaches, fans and journalists alike will have about every team before a season begins. Usually, the more times you say “yes” the better. What really instills confidence though is when there aren’t even questions to answer.
There’s an old saying I like to refer to this team a year; “The less questions you have about a team, the better they will probably be,” or something like that. Of course, there are always teams that answer those questions (a la the 2007 Giants, who went from a mediocre team to Super Bowl champs). While there are teams that will rise from the ashes, it’s usually a safe bet to believe in a team that doesn’t have any huge questions regarding key personnel, injuries and experience.
With all that in mind, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a lot of questions and “ifs” that must be worked out. They absolutely should not be ruled of contention before the season even begins, but a position-by-position breakdown reveals that there’s an abundance of “ifs” an questions floating around out there. To further analyze how confidence fans should be of the team, we’ll take a look at each position’s positives, lingering questions and how the position should perform. We will follow this with an overall confidence level, running from 0-10, 10 being the highest.
Pressing Question: Will an injury-ridden front five have better luck and find a way to stay on the field this season?
Breakdown: Murphy’s Law was in effect last year for the Jaguars’ offensive line. Starters Vince Manuwai, Brad Meester and Maurice Williams all missed significant time with injuries last year, causing an offensive line that was regarded as one of the league’s best just a year before to become abhorrent. Khalif Barnes, who was perhaps the most consistent lineman on the field (off-field is a different story) for the Jags last year was not re-signed but was replaced with veteran Tra Thomas. Tony Pashos, Meester, Manuwai and Williams all return and are likely to start this year, although some infused youth might change that. Jacksonville drafted Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton in the first two rounds of the draft, respectively, and both have the physical tools to make an impact this season.
The Big If: If one of Jacksonville’s rookies can contribute immediately than depth or talent shouldn’t be a concern this year.
Our Call: With some key cogs on the line having seen their best days already go by (Thomas), others coming back from injuries (Manuwai), and some dealing with both (Meester and Williams), there is a reason for concern. Pashos cannot feel too welcome either after having the team select two tackles very early in the draft. Monroe and Britton both have tons of potential, but it takes a special lineman to adapt to the NFL as a rookie. The good news is that Monroe and Britton along with Dennis Norman and Uche Nwaneri both offer depth, but will the starters bounce back to 2007 form? Two years older, it’s unlikely that the Jaguars will have a line that opened holes like it did during the team’s playoff run two years back. Still, there is enough talent and depth to not worry too much, but this looks to be far from a dominating unit as of now.
Confidence Rating: 6