The pressure is on Jack Del Rio to win or find a good real estate agent. Jacksonville has the bad luck of playing in the same division with two perennial powerhouse teams in the AFC South. But the time for excuses is over. Win now or …
The offense has struggled for the last several years and the off season moves have not helped. QB David Garrard has to produce this season to improve the record and get into the playoffs. He has to win to keep his job as well. Garrard has lost more weapons that he got in return in the off season. Fred Taylor is gone along with his top 3 receivers from last years team. For the OTA’s, Del Rio bought three cases of “Hello My name is” labels.
Garrard was a 80-83 passer rating QB throwing about as many TDs as picks until 2007. That year he burned up defenses with a rating of 102.2 with 18 TDs and only 3 picks. After getting back from an injury in week 11 he threw 12 TDs in 6 games but was out again week 17. There was great anticipation for his 08 season but the golden coach turned back into a pumpkin and he ended up with a rating of 81.1 with 15 TDs and 11 picks.
His familiar targets are gone. Former 1st round picks Matt Jones and Reggie Williams were busts and ex Brown Dennis Northcutt had a breakout season and left as a FA. His new receivers will include Torry Holt, who has to trim his beard so he won’t trip over it, and a bunch of no names. That list includes the significantly underachiever Troy Williamson and Mike Walker, Mike Thomas, Jarett Dillard, Tiquan Underwood, Nate Hughes, Maurice Dupree, and Todd Peterson. Garrard will have to depend on TE Marcedes Lewis because I see a lot of drops in the list of WRs.
The running game is totally in the hands of Maurice Jones-Drew. The super-sub is going to have to prove he can carry the big load. But as he has gotten more carries in his three years, his average has gone from 5.7 in 06 to 4.6 in 07 to 4.2 in 08 with 197 carries. At 5-7 208, you have to wonder if he can take the pounding from a 275 carry season. He is an above average receiver. The ex-RB now FB Greg Jones will use his 254 lbs to clear the way for MJD and will get more than the 2 carries he got last year.
The Offensive line last year was—well offensive. The starters will be totally different this year. There is talent there and it had better come together quickly. Both projected starting guards Maurice Williams and Vince Manuwai are coming back from injuries that cost them the entire 08 season. They are both talented but have to prove they are ready to contribute again. Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton were the teams first 2 picks. Monroe should start at LT with Britton being a key reserve. C Brad Meester is excellent but RT Tony Pashos will be pushed by ex-Eagle UFA Tra Thomas.
Everyone on the D line is going to have to step it up. The group of DEs Derrick Harvey and Reggie Hayward and DTs John Henderson and Derek Landri are projected to start. Henderson was outstanding when his running mate was Marcus Stroud and gets a lot more double teams without him. Hayward is coming off a season ending injury. The line must generate more sacks and pressures if the D is going to get back to the top of the league. Chances are they will not.
The linebacking is shaky at best and there is no quality depth. Daryl Smith will play outside this season and Justin Durant will be in the middle. Both are changes from last year. The jury is out on how this configuration will perform.
The D backfield will undergo another shakeup this season after a below average 08. CB Rashean Mathis is the only proven player and was not as good last season as in 07. SS FA Sean Considine has a lock on the position but I think he is over rated. FS Reggie Nelson is athletic but very inconsistent. The rest are just the rest and nothing special.
OVERALL: Jacksonville will at best be 3rd in the division and unfortunately have a new coach in 2010.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .