After 17 long weeks of enduring stress & disappointment each week, the Jaguars football season has come to an end. It’s a bittersweet ending to the 2011 season. On one hand we know longer have to watch our beloved team lose every week, on the other hand we now have to watch MLB & NBA highlights for the next 8 months.
This week doesn’t just mark the end of the season, but the end of an important era in Jacksonville football. As today Shahid Khan will officially take over as the owner of the franchise.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on this season & look ahead to next season.
How did the writers of Roaring Black & Teal think this season went?
Corinna’s View: Week One, I was glowing with excitement for this upcoming season. That glow disappeared after week two. I’m sure you’ve heard me say it before & I promise this is the last time I’ll mention it… THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE SEASON! With the Colts sucking for Luck and Tennessee being inconsistent, there was only one team between the Jaguars & the division title. Well – I guess that didn’t go according to plan!
Sure this season was disappointing to say the least, but I think there are a few good things we can take away from it. Starting with the fact we are now in the hunt for a new head coach. I mean if this season was good for anything it was to prove Jack Del Rio had overstayed his welcome in Jacksonville.
Another thing we can be grateful for is the fact we had a healthy Maurice Jones-Drew on the field throughout the entire season. Who know what this season could’ve looked like if it wasn’t for MJD… Chances are we’d be duking it out with the Colts for the first overall pick. Contributing to 95% of the team’s offense (exaggeration) earned MJD the 2011 NFL rushing title. At least he has a nice, new title to congratulate him on all the hard work he put in this season.
One last thing I think we can take away from this season is the defense. Last season no one in their right mind would predict that the Jaguars would finish 2011 with the 6th ranked defense in the NFL. Thanks to the efforts of Mel Tucker & Gene Smith we actually have a defense we can be proud of. Now if we could only work on that offense….
EJ’s View: There’s no doubt that finishing 5-11 is a disappointment, but this season marked the beginning of change. No more of that rebuilding mumbo-jumbo. No more of the same schemes, decisions, and play-calling that plagued this team for years. And lets not forget that we have THE best running back in the NFL, Maurice Jones-Drew.
Plus a defense that was ranked 29th in the league the previous and improved to as high as 4th, and finished the league 6th, in total defense. We saw our rookie quarterback make strides towards the end of the season. Enough for me to give him my vote of confidence.
I don’t want to really mention the injuries, but 30+ guys were placed on injured reserve this season, many of which had significant roles on the team. Just saying.
The addition of offensive weapons and some more depth will go a long way in determining this team’s future success.
With the new owner taking over, a coaching search underway, and free agency just around the corner, I suspect the Jaguars to have one of the most improved teams in 2012.
Which player do we believe made the biggest impact this season?
EJ’s View: Maurice Jones-Drew. It’s pretty much a no-brainer to me. The guy only broke the great Fred Taylor’s franchise single season rushing record. And he only led the NFL in rushing yards. And he was only voted to the Pro Bowl for the third consecutive year (even though it is a FARCE that this guy isn’t the starter).
Jones-Drew did it all this season, averaging over 100 yards rushing a game for the season. On a team that finished last in total offense. A team that could not move the ball without Maurice running. A team who’s opponents knew that they would run, and stacked the line as much as possible. Yet, he still led the league in rushing.
Now that’s an impact.
Corinna’s View: To me suggesting Maurice Jones-Drew would be to obvious. Instead I’m going to pick someone else I believe is just as deserving. After finishing the season with 119 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 2 sacks & 2 interceptions, I believe LB Paul Posluszny had a huge impact on this season.
As mentioned before, the Jaguars defense finished 6th this season & that can be largely attributed to Posluszny’s performance on the field. After signing the free agent from Buffalo in the offseason, Posluszny proved to be worth every penny. The LB only missed two snaps all season, one of which was due to his shoe falling off. Ooops.
Posluszny injured his shoulder in week 17 & was reportedly having an MRI earlier this week. After a nice long off season he should be in great shape to return for the 2012 season.
How do we think Blaine’s first season went?
EJ’s View: Blaine Gabbert. BG11. Sunshine. Call him what you want but I have a gut feeling that this guy is going to be one heck of a quarterback. He had a rough rookie season, but lets not forget that the guy is 22.
Oh, and that his receiving corps was the worst in the league. You don’t believe me? Remember when Jason Hill was our #1 option at receiver and then he got cut? How many teams could cut their #1 receiver and none of the 31 other teams puts in a claim for him? We cut our #1 receiver and NOBODY wanted him. Now you tell me how our receiving corps is better than it is.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that Blaine has to improve. I know he has to work on pocket presence and all of that jazz. But towards the latter end of the season I saw improvements in his mechanics, and his decision making has been pretty good for a rookie.
Now we sit and watch. We see how the new coach allows for Blaine to develop. It will definitely depend on the scheme and philosophy that the new coach, or offensive coordinator, brings in. Del Rio, for whatever reason, was a big fan of the maximum protection passing plays, where there were only 2-3 players eligible to catch the ball. Can’t win like that. Not in this league.
So lets see what the Jaguars do in free agency, and then in the draft. It’s a guarantee that they will address wide receiver in one or the other, and possibly both. After that, let the offseason take its course.
But I will say this again, Blaine Gabbert has my vote as the current and future starting quarterback of this team.
Corinna’s View: I completely agree with EJ on this one. Clearly Blaine’s first season didn’t go as well as we had hoped. If Gabbert had entered the NFL in prior season he probably wouldn’t be getting so much crap. However, he entered in the same year as other successful rookie QBs such as Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, TJ Yates, & Jake Locker.
Cam Newton broke all previous rookie records in week one. Andy Dalton led his team to the playoffs. TJ Yates can’t take credit for getting his team to the playoffs, but he can say that he didn’t screw it up after the two starting QB were injured. He has proved during that time he deserves a starting role. Even Jake Locker made Blaine look like a fool during a few brief glimpses.
Like EJ stated, clearly Blaine’s support system was less than mediocre. It seemed as though everytime a WR was cut from an NFL team, the Jags were there to scoop them up.
The lack of success in Blaine’s first season could be blamed on the WR, lack of experience, the head coach, or play calling but in the end Blaine has a problem. He is scared. Scared to be hit, scared to make big plays, just down right scared. Nothing can change that. In this offseason I’d like to see him man up & show Jacksonville why he was a first round draft pick.
Corinna’s View on the Head Coach Vacancy
With the head coaching position in Jacksonville still vacant, rumors are flying around Duval as to whom will replace Jack Del Rio has the head coach. Names such as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator, Mike Mularkey has been thrown into the mix. Mularkey was a potential candidate for the head coaching position in Denver back in 2010 but declined.
The Jaguars have formally asked the Broncos for permission to interview their offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy. Broncos head coach John Fox has attributed Tebow’s success to McCoy ‘s ability to restructure the offense to better suit his strengths.
Let’s not forget about the front runner in this race, interim head coach Mel Tucker. After ending the season on a more positive note, Tucker is still a potential candidate for the head coaching position. In 2011, Tucker managed to turn around Jacksonville’s defense that finished 6th in the NFL this season. If Tucker does not receive the position chances are he will remain the defensive coordinator in Jacksonville, unless he opts to interview for another head coaching position.
EJ’s View on Potential Draft Picks
With the regular season just ending, it is difficult to accurately say which players the Jaguars should target (yes I know you want Blackmon). The reality of it is that we have to see what the Jaguars do in free agency first, and we also have to see how the future rookies perform at the combine. After that I will have a better guesstimate of what the team will do. But I can tell what positions I think the Jaguars will probably need to immediately address once the draft is here.
- Wide Receiver: You know the story. The group as a whole is arguably the worst in the league. One, even two receivers in the offseason may not be enough. I expect the team to look long and hard at…. I almost got you didn’t I?
- Cornerback: The team had a rough onslaught of injuries this season in the secondary. But the group played hard through the injuries. I feel that now is the time to get a young corner to groom into a future starter. Derek Cox has proven to play pretty well when on the field. The Mathis contract situation will be interesting to watch, but I hope he stays. Either way, the position will need to be addressed.
Corinna’s View on the Beginning of a New Era
Shahid Khan is officially the owner of the franchise, as of today. With this comes the responsibility of picking a new head coach; a process that Khan said he would actively be a part of.
In a press conference, Khan discussed that he wanted to establish the Jaguars as a premier organization. He even has plans to increase the Jaguars foreign fan base; with the possibility of the team playing a few games overseas.
Khan has emphasized again & again how much he wants to make the Jaguars a successful franchise & bring home the championship to Jacksonville.
Only time will tell if Khan has what it takes to get this franchise back on board. One thing you can count on is that he has the financial means to do so.
What does EJ think needs to happen in the offseason?
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