Rashean Mathis (Chamberlain/JagNation)
Before any team starts a season, there is 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 someone step up opposite to Rashean Mathis?
Breakdown: As unproductive as Jerry Porter was as a free agent acquisition last year, Drayton Florence was significantly worse. The local cornerback prospect might have been better suited as a nickel back, but we’ll never know as he was repeatedly burned on the outside throughout the year. Cutting Florence might be the ultimate example of addition by subtraction, as Brian Williams will likely return to his natural position of outside corner. Williams has be a sturdy, productive corner for the Jaguars over the past few years and his consistency will be welcomed. Derek Cox might push Williams, as the rookie looked great during mini-camp. The team was criticized for taking him too high and perhaps they did, but if he can translate what we’ve seen him do in underwear to Sundays than the team has a steal on its hands. Rashean Mathis played admirably last year, even though he still wasn’t 100 percent. His health is vital for the Jaguars as he is a very good cover corner who takes a lot of pressure off of his teammates. Scott Starks is still on the roster and always looks decent in limited action but he rarely sees the field, but his depth should be a valuable addition this year.
The Big If: If Cox can play like Mathis did in his first year at corner, the team will be significantly better in the secondary.
Our Call: There is no foreseeable way that the corners can be worse than last year, as Williams and potentially Cox are significant upgrades over Florence. Williams is 30 years old, but still has gas left in the tank and Mathis is still arguably a top 10 corner. There is decent depth here as well. Our confidence rating is a six for now because we haven’t see Williams as a starter in a year, Cox is extremely inexperienced against top flight competition, and Mathis has battled through injury problems the last two years. Still, they all have given us reason to believe early on and because of that, the six is likely on its way up.
Confidence Rating: 6