How’s this for a stat: Over the past three seasons, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ win percentage in their final five games is .267 (4-11). They’re .500 in their first eleven (16-16). The Jags are like the anti-Chargers, but with just one playoff berth in the last five years.
We sense a shortage of mental toughness.
Regardless, this is a hole-filled roster. Let’s examine.
DB: Is there a worse defensive back unit in football right now? Jacksonville’s safety corps is easily the league’s poorest, and the cornerback position across from Rashean Mathis is a revolving door. Derek Cox and David Jones were shuttled back and forth at right corner a year ago, both struggling mightily. Cox can make plays on the ball, but his development as a cover man seems to have crashed to a halt. Considering his talent, Mathis is an underachiever. The Jaguars could use new starters at both safety spots and, at the very least, a young nickel back with long-term starting potential.
QB: After 76 career starts, we know what David Garrard is. Coach Jack Del Rio has continually acknowledged that Garrard isn’t capable of delivering consistent postseason appearances, let alone a shot at a title. Entering his age-33 campaign, Garrard should be viewed by this organization as no more than a quarterback capable of keeping the seat warm for a future starter. Unfortunately, the Jags have made no attempts to find a developmental signal caller. They haven’t drafted a QB since 2003. In any round.
WR: The Jaguars didn’t even extend free agent Mike Sims-Walker a restricted tender this offseason, indicating they have no plans to bring him back. That leaves diminutive Mike Thomas, injury-riddled Jarett Dillard, and drop-prone Tiquan Underwood as Jacksonville’s top returning wideouts, to go with Jason Hill. (Hill’s contract is up, but unlike Sims-Walker, he did get a restricted free agent tender. UPDATE: Brain fart. Hill got a two-year deal.) If there is a weaker receiver corps in the NFL, we’d like to know.
LB: Middle man Kirk Morrison and weak-side ‘backer Justin Durant are both free agents. Durant is not expected back. Daryl Smith is locked in as Jacksonville’s strong-side starter, but behind him lies an unimpressive crew including Kyle Bosworth (yes, a “Boz” descendant), Jacob Cutrera, Alvin Bowen, and ‘tweener Raiders castoff Slade Norris. Former undrafted free agent Russell Allen would probably be the Jaguars’ starting middle linebacker if the season began today.
Overview: Defensive end is arguably another need with Aaron Kampman coming off his second ACL surgery in as many offseasons. The Jaguars ranked 30th in the league in sacks last year, and 32nd the year before. The No. 1 need position on this list would benefit greatly from an improved pass rush.
The interior offensive line is another sore spot.
G.M. Gene Smith surprised everyone by using last year’s No. 10 overall pick on Cal defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, who most projected as a top-50 selection but few considered a truly elite prospect. Smith is now viewed as a wild-card drafter. Don’t be surprised if he snaps up Florida State’s Christian Ponder, Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett, or perhaps even a pre-draft riser like Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick or TCU’s Andy Dalton with this year’s 16th pick.