Quentin Groves (JagNation.com)
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: Can Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves live up to their draft status in year two?
Breakdown: After spending a first and second round pick on Harvey and Groves, the Jaguars didn’t see their investment pay off, at least not immediately as the team generated just 29 sacks, which was in the bottom half of the league. Harvey was hurt by a long holdout and Groves didn’t seem to have the strength to be a consistent force at end. Reggie Hayward was relatively unproductive last year as well and it doesn’t look like he’ll ever bounce back all the way from an achilles injury suffered several years ago. Hayward might get some rejuvenation when the team uses a new 3-4 package and Groves could see better numbers as a rushing linebacker. James Wyche might also get a chance to succeed as an end in the team’s new scheme. Of all the ends on the roster, Harvey has the most potential as he showed some glimpses late in the season.
The Big If: If Harvey can compete the entire season like he did in the last half of his rookie year when he logged 3.5 sacks, then the Jaguars should have a decent pass rush.
Our Call: With the team likely to use elements of a 4-3 and 3-4, there should be a rejuvenated pass rush and several ends might be a better fit in the 3-4 scheme. It would be a surprise if Harvey doesn’t get at least seven sacks this year and if he gets help from one more end, the unit should be strong, but for now everyone is unproven.
Confidence Rating: 4