Today we have the pleasure of Joseph Schmidt writing a piece for us on one of the more forgettable NFL franchises, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Joe’s a good guy, a great writer, and, most importantly, snarky and cynical like us! Joe’s also got the connections that we desire; he talked with Beanie Wells just last week. I heard they traded beef casserole dishes and gossiped about Matt Leinart’s many girlfriends! Anyway, take it away, Joe!
No one wants anything to do with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Not Wayne Weaver, not its fans, not television networks. Not even the writers of this blog, hence this retrospection’s outsourcing to a freelancer. I even had my own qualms about writing this piece, not withstanding my hatred for the state of Florida or my personal belief that former coach Jack Del Rio tortures and consumes small children in his basement dungeon. The prevalent notion can be explained simply: There is nothing exciting about this team – this isn’t a personal opinion, it’s a statement of fact. Even the Colts were somewhat interesting in their pathetic, Peyton-less plummet; they had Luck to gain.
The Jaguars are writing the handbook on “How Not to Run a Franchise.” Jacksonville fans, whoever they are, wherever they are, were hopeful at the start of the 2011 season, despite it beginning with the strange saga of David Garrard’s departure (which, essentially, was a warning shot for what fans should’ve expected. Come on; Luke McCown?). The defense was strong at first before being struck by that nagging plague we call ‘injuries’, but hey, you get what you pay for. Isn’t that right, Clint Session?
This is the Jacksonville Jaguars Retrospective.
Highlight: Jack Del Rio was fired, albeit seven years too late. In a stroke of genius that only took three-plus seasons to come to, GM Gene Smith pulled the plug on Jack of the River before Week 13, putting the ineffectual Mel Tucker and his moustache in the hot seat. Owner Waybe Weaver was so impressed with Smith’s chutzpah that he gave the GM a three-year extension… one week before announcing he sold the franchise to Shahid Khan. Weaver obviously wanted to leave the Jaguars with a much subtler form of sabotage than, say, retaining River-Jack for another season. If this move, and the fact that Khan has yet to rectify it, strikes you as a dubious management decision, just wait. Firing their head coach was the best thing to happen to the Jaguars all year, and it still wasn’t handled well.
Lowlight: Blaine Gabbert. The Offensive Line. Injuries to the defense. How about, “Anyone on the field without the initials M.J.D.”? Yeah, that about sums it up. There simply isn’t enough blame to go around. Rookie quarterback and Missouri stand-out Blaine Gabbert, the 10th pick of the 2011 Draft, anchored the team’s 32nd ranked passing offense. But is inexperience to blame when the O-Line allowed the kid to get sacked 40 times? The offense needs improvement not only from Gabbert and the O-Line, but also from under-performing receivers Mike Thomas and Mercedes Lewis.
Team MVP: Oh, Maurice, will you ever get the credit you truly deserve? It goes without saying that Maurice Jones-Drew was the best player on his team, but you might even go so far as to say that he was the best in the entire league. He was the NFL’s leading rusher in 2011, the only one to go over 1,500 yards, averaging 100 yards-per-game and scoring 8 total TDs. Unfortunately for everyone, he plays in Florida. And the Divines hate Florida. Thus, his success is a ratio directly proportionate to the Jaguars’ failures. C’est la vie.
Needs: To pack up its shit and move to Los Angeles. (HA!) But seriously, I was dreading writing this blog for this very reason — it’s not a question of what they need, it’s a matter of exactly how much they’ll be able to fix before the season begins. Retaining Tucker will help their defense, which was strong at the beginning of 2011 but suffered in the waning weeks due to key injuries and bad play. The secondary was strong with standout safeties Dwight Lowery and Dawan Landry, but the defense failed to pressure quarterbacks. Finding support for Paul Posluszny (and making some satanic sacrifice to ensure Clint Session stays healthy) is necessary for their front seven to see some improvement. On top of that, Lowery is about to hit free agency and will probably be looking for more than Jacksonville is willing to give. PLUS THERE’S THAT WHOLE THING WITH THEIR SHITTY OFFENSIVE LINE! Oh boy. Woe is Jacksonville. There are many issues that need addressing — deciding where to start will determine where the Jaguars stand in what is arguably the weakest division in the AFC.
What’s in a Jaguars fan’s Liquor Cabinet: Shit. Umm…. Boxed wine? Bottled perspiration? Handfulls of swampwater? WHO GIVES A FUCK?! It’s Jacksonville.
A PREFACE: The guys at the Footbawl Blog decided that, with the inevitable disappointment of the San Francisco 49ers by Randy Moss, the use of the Straight Cash Homey Meter is no longer relevant in the round-ups. (Editor’s note: HOW COULD YOU, RANDY? THIS WAS MY GREATEST INVENTION! MY EVEREST! I’LL NEVER FORGIVE YOU, YOU SON OF A BITCH) However, in the wake of controversy surrounding Nate’s Patron Saints of Headhunting, we have come up with a new method of measuring a franchise’s chances of becoming embroiled in some scandal of its own. Hence, we are proud to introduce to you THE JANGO SCALE OF SCANDAL LIKELIHOOD! We chose Jango over Boba Fett because, really, what the fuck has Boba done aside from get eaten by a giant hole in the ground? And DON’T YOU DARE start coming at me saying, “Well, if you read the book ‘Tales from Jabba’s Palace,’ you would know that he also-” you fucking nerds.
Jango Scale of Scandal Likelihood: If we’re going from last year, these guys would probably be an 8. I mean, sure, they didn’t suffer any huge controversy, nor do they have some James Harrsion-esque sociopath eager to give Goodell back some of that hard-earned salary. But their propensity to make questionable decisions at terrible points in time is damn near uncanny. This year, though, the only thing I can raise a questionable eyebrow at is the possibility of the team going to Los Angeles. They’re arguably the best candidate whose name doesn’t rhyme with ‘Schminnesota Shvikings.’ All they need is one more terrible season with continued lacklustre support from fans, and then I predict the whispers will start. And seriously, would anyone in Florida even notice if they left? And if they did, wouldn’t they be happier for it?
Entirely Too Early Prediction for 2012: They will cut Blaine Gabbert three weeks before preseason and announce they’ve signed Josh McCown. Kidding. Well, if I were every single media analyst to ever exist in the history of ever, I’d be saying the same thing I’ve said every year since 2008 — “Maurice Jones Drew is good, but there’s no way he’ll be as productive as he was last season.” Luckily, I’m one of those genius sports fans that knows more than the next guy so you can trust me when I say MJD will once again finish the year as one of the League’s top rushers. He’ll at least be in the top three. Not like that will translate into anything beneficial for the Jaguars, except maybe a few more jerseys.
(Editor’s Note: I asked for a record prediction, and Joe sent me the following)
The Jaguars will win their opener in dominating fashion, as they’ve been wont to for the past few seasons. And they might turn heads for a week or two with their empty promises of false hope. Next thing you know, it’ll be the end of the season and they’ll be on the bottom of the AFC South, as per usual. Final season record: 4-12. If they’re lucky.
Tomorrow I’ll cover the Titans, who may actually have Peyton Manning by that point! Or, you know not.