Reggie Nelson (Phil Coale/AP)
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: Is Reggie Nelson an NFL caliber player? If you watched only his rookie year, you would answer yes. If you watched his sophomore campaign, you might be laughed at if you said yes. Breakdown: Gene Smith made a great move this month to obtain Gerald Alexander, a starting caliber safety who had a productive rookie year with Detroit two years ago. Alexander can play both safety positions, but a back/neck fracture caused him to miss most of last year. Reggie Nelson gave us all reason to believe as a rookie but struggled mightily when he was paired with Drayton Florence. Nelson has all the physical tools to be a star but he was caught out of position time and time again last year. If he catches on in his third year he can be a stud, but last year’s regression was unsettling. Sean Considine was brought in to be a starter but now will likely be a backup, which is where this gritty but marginally gifted player belongs. He’s a hell of a special team player and is a high character guy that you want in your locker room. He still has the ability to grow and could evolve into a starter, but at this point in his career he’s better suited to be a role player. Marlon McCree, a former Jaguar, was brought back to add depth.
The Big If: If Nelson can rebound from last year’s dreadful performance, the team might have a very good player on its hands. If not, it might be a long year.
Our Call: Alexander might be a great addition, but his neck and back problems are a concern, so much so that the Lions went out and drafted Louis Delmas in the second round this year. Nelson could be a stud but he must consume the playbook better this year and needs to play smarter. There is some experience behind the two but it’s tough to feel good about one starter who was horrendous last year and another who is coming back from a season ending neck injury. The potential is there but it doesn’t come attached with a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Confidence Rating: 3