Well, it's going to be interesting tomorrow. That's for sure.
Well, ol' Alfie. Here we are again. All these years later, and the rebuilding project is all wrapped up nice and tidy, insofar as I mean that we both still stink. We're suffering from our own diseases .What's the root of the Jags' issues? Sure, personnel is always going to be an issue when the losses are mounting, but you guys haven't had a winning season since 2007. What has put the roster together in such an unsuccessful fashion?
The biggest issue for the Jaguars roster, as it was built under the previous general manager Gene Smith, is that he just didn't draft talented football players. He liked to go after the "base hits" and "safe" picks, feeling that was a better strategy than trying to hit a homerun with your picks. What has happened is that taking lesser talented players finally caught up with him and now there are only NINE players left from the drafts from 2009-2012, with four of those players from last year's draft.
Offensively the Rams are going to want to attack the Jaguars linebackers in coverage with Jared Cook, specifically Paul Posluszny. Overall the Jaguars defense has been tough early in games, but the offense as bad as it is keeps them on the field most of the game and they just wear down. The rush defense ranking is a bit skewed by this, as they've bottled up the run well early on and forced teams to pass. Which, realistically, is the smart play with the Jaguars starting so many rookies in the defensive backfield.
Defensively, there's obviously more talent. What part of the defense can holdover until the roster is rebuilt? Any current Jags you see still playing defense in Jacksonville in say 2017?
Of the players on the defense, not including the players Dave Caldwell has brought in, I don't think there are any that will be around in 2017. Guys like Posluszny will likely be gone after this year, as his salary balloons to a $9.5 million cap hit, which is pretty insane for a two-down "tackle" inside backer. Jason Babin could be gone after this year, as well as Tyson Alualu. I wouldn't be surprised if the hold-over starters in 2013 are all gone in 2014.
I'm guessing Jonathan Cyprien was an answer to that last one. How has the rookie class looked? Has Luke Joeckel lived up to his selection or at least shown he's on track to do so? How about the mid-round OWs in Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson? Any UDFA steal?
The Jaguars rookie class has been promising. Johnathan Cyprien and Josh Evans will be starting at the safety spot and definitely appear to be the future of the position. Joeckel has looked up and down getting used to playing right tackle, but he'll be flipping back to the left side against the Rams so he should be more comfortable. Ace Sanders has been about what was expected and is finally doing punt return duty. Third-round pick Dwayne Gratz looked good at corner before a high ankle sprain sidelined him for a few weeks. The only real disappointment has been Denard Robinson, who has some ball security issues, but also hasn't had a chance to be really utilized with how bad the offense has been. The Jaguars did appear to get a still in the UDFA market with linebacker LaRoy Reynolds who's been pushing for playing time. I wouldn't be surprised if he's their starting MLB in 2014.
It's going to take some time to put the pieces together the way HC Gus Bradley and GM David Caldwell see fit. It's obviously far too early to evaluate, but how does the fan base feel about the two? Has the endearing sense that comes with newness worn off with the four losses or does it tilt more towards the realization that this roster isn't competitive but they can learn from that and build a strong team because of it?
There's a bit of a mixed bag with the Jaguars starting as poorly as they have. Most people still like Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell, realizing the task they were saddled with to start the season. It's a roster that's literally to be torn apart, with over half of it new players coming from undrafted rookies to waiver claims. There are some calls for them to be fired and held accountable, but that's stemming from the impatience that naturally comes after failing to rebuild, only to have to rebuild again.
Thanks to my man Alfie for hookin it up.