2010 NFL Preview, Jacksonville Jaguars: Jack Del Rio's Big Year

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2010 NFL Preview, Jacksonville Jaguars: Jack Del Rio's Big Year

By Alfie Crow, Big Cat Country

Introduction

Things looked dim as the Jacksonville Jaguars season came to a close. The team got off to a quick start at 7-5 with four games remaining, in the thick of the playoff hunt. Then the bottom fell out. The Jaguars closed out the season with four consecutive losses that began with a 14-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins. That was the game things began to come unraveled.

The offense couldn't move the ball in the second half of the game, despite the fact that the Jaguars much maligned defense held stout and continuously gave the team the ball back.  The following week in a Thursday night match up with the Indianapolis Colts, the Jaguars were crippled by two back breaking plays. The first was a long touchdown pass to Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne in which Jaguars safety Reggie Nelson attempted to tackle him by playing patty cake. A few plays later, Jaguars quarterback David Garrard was intercepted by Colts cornerback Jacob Lacey with a little over a minute left and the Jaguars within a score to win the game. The Jaguars then went on to lose the last two games in miserable fashion.

During the off season there was speculation that head coach Jack Del Rio would be fired and/or would leave to take the head coaching position at Southern Cal. Obviously none of that happened and Jack Del Rio remained to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars for now.


Significant Additions

DE Aaron Kampan

WR Kassim Osgood

DT Tyson Alualu

DT D'Anthony Smith

DE Larry Hart

LB Kirk Morrison

OG Justin Smiley

Significant Subtractions

DT John Henderson

DE Reggie Hayward

DT Rob Meier

WR Torry Holt

Offense

Projected Starting Lineup

QB David Garrard

RB Maurice Jones-Drew

FB Greg Jones

WR Mike Sims-Walker

WR Troy Williamson

TE Marcedes Lewis

LT Eugene Monroe

LG Uche Nwaneri

C Brad Meester

RG Vince Manuwai

RT Eben Britton

David Garrard has tapered off since his 2007 season that garnered him a $60 million dollar extension, even though he "made the Pro-Bowl" in 2009. The Jaguars were hoping that quarterback Luke McCown, whom they acquired late last pre-season would be able to push and challenge Garrard, but so far that hasn't been the case. McCown is either going to have to flip a switch or Garrard will need to just totally implode for that to happen.

The Jaguars are the envy of a lot of teams with their backfield, and not just because of Pro-Bowler Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jaguars have one of the better fullbacks in the NFL with Greg Jones, and second year runningback Rashad Jennings has drawn rave reviews in camp so far, and looks noticeably quicker. The Jaguars also drafted runningback Deji Karim, who looks almost like a poor mans Maurice Jones-Drew, in stature and talent.

The running game is expected to be strong thanks to part of the offensive line, as it was last year. The big question will be the pass protection, as David Garrard was sacked 46 times and was the most hit quarterback in the NFL last season.  The only real change on the Jaguars offensive line is experience and the flopping of guards Vince Manuwai and Uche Nwaneri. Nwaneri is moving from the right side to the left side, as his strength is against the pass rush and Manuwai is gong to the right side as he his a mauler in the running game.  Second year offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton should continue the progression they showed at the end of last season.

The Jaguars group of wide receivers is a funny lot. They have quite a few talented players, but it's interesting to see how they will all play out.  Mike Sims-Walker is the Jaguars clear cut number one wide receiver, but after that it gets kind of murky depending on the situation. I penciled Troy Williamson in as a starter because he started the season in 2009 as the number one before going down with a shoulder injury. Williamson has deep speed teams covet, but he's just never been able to put it all together.  Mike Thomas is an explosive player that Jaguars fans love, but his ideal spot is in the slot position. Kassim Osgood hasn't offered very much as a wide receiver in his career, and it's likely he will be primarily a special teams player.  Jarrett Dillard should round out the five wide receivers as he recovers from a broken ankle that sidelined him in 2009.


Defense

Projected Starting Lineup

LDE Aaron Kampman

DT Terrance Knighton

DT Tyson Alualu

RDE Derrick Harvey

OLB Daryl Smith

MLB Kirk Morrison

OLB Justin Durant

CB Rashean Mathis

SS Anthony Smith

FS Gerald Alexander

CB Derek Cox

The Jaguars defensive line has gone through a literal face lift. General Manager Gene Smith has injected youth into the line that was one of the worst at getting to the quarterback in 2009.  Defensive end Derrick Harvey slumped in his sophomore season after bulking up to 280 pounds and bouncing back and forth between 3-4 defensive end and outside linebacker. He's now shed 15-20 pounds and looks like the pass rushing threat he was drafted to be.  Aaron Kampman surprisingly joined the Jaguars in free agency who will add a veteran presence. Terrance Knighton is a plugging nose tackle that was a big rookie surprise, and rookie Tyson Alualu should add a pass rush in the middle of the line that will collapse the pocket. Anything less than close to double the Jaguars 2009 total of 14 sacks would be a massive disappointment.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are really four deep at linebacker, as Russell Allen should push Justin Durant for playing time at outside linebacker.  Kirk Morrison was picked up from the Oakland Raiders, and he adds a vocal leader in the middle of the field the Jaguars have been missing since Mike Peterson left in free agency in 2009. The oft overlooked Daryl Smith returns to his natural position on the outside after playing insider in 2009.

The Jaguars secondary has really been the achilles heel for the defense in a lot of their games. There has been a revolving door at the safety position since the departure of Gerald Sensabaugh. Former first round pick Reggie Nelson has been a massive disappointment and likely will not even start for the Jaguars.  Luckily there is one safety the Jaguars can rely on in Gerald Alexander, who can play both safety spots. It looks like Anthony Smith, who was picked up off the scrap heap mid-season in 2009, is going to wind up the other starting safety.  As for the cornerback position, the Jaguars are pretty set with veteran Rashean Mathis and surprise rookie sensation Derek Cox. Tyron Brackenridge and Scott Starks should make up the depth and nickle positions.

Special Teams

Projected Starting Lineup

KR Deji Karim

PR Scotty McGee

K Josh Scobee

P Adam Podlesh

The Jaguars should have one of the best special teams units in the league this season. Adding Kassim Osgood, a perennial Pro-Bowl special teamer, and pairing him with Montell Owens should make for excellent special teams play. Kicker Josh Scobee has a powerful leg, but his accuracy needs to improve a bit as it slumped in 2009.  Punter Adam Podlesh draws a lot of criticism for his punting style, as the Jaguars have him focus on his directional punting rather than booming the ball.  Podlesh however does a very good job doing what the Jaguars ask, as the return yardage allowed is some of the least in the NFL.

Coaching

The Jaguars return the vast majority of their coaching staff this season. The biggest changes come in the form of defensive line coach Joe Cullen and runningbacks coach Ernest Byner.  The offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker both return, but their duties have changed.  Dirk Koetter now has complete control of his offense and his permitted to call it how he sees fit.  On the other hand, Mel Tucker will be focusing more on his specialty, the secondary. Jack Del Rio plans to call a lot of the defense this season, as the performance of the defense is going to have bearing on how hot his coaching seat is.

Conclusion/Prediction for 2010

The Jaguars should return to being that "off the bus" type of team they were known as from 2005-2007. The team has made improvements on both lines of scrimmage and added plenty of high motor tough players. I don't think the Jaguars will muster much more than 8-8 this upcoming season, but they can be one of those teams that spoil seasons for others.  The Jaguars should once again be one of those teams no one wants to play.

Previous NFL previews

32. St. Louis Rams NFL preview

31. Buffalo Bills NFL preview

30. Tampa Bay Bucs NFL preview

29. Cleveland Browns NFL preview

28. Detroit Lions NFL preview

27. Oakland Raiders NFL preview

26. Kansas City Chiefs NFL preview

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