A new General Manager, head coach, offensive coordinator, and uniforms are just some of the many changes occurring in Jacksonville this offseason.
Owner Shad Khan is doing everything that he can to bring excitement to a city that is well deserved, including a move in hope to make the Jacksonville Jaguars international; the Jaguars have announced that they will play one home game in London for the next 4 seasons.
Not only is Khan promising change, new General Manager Dave Caldwell and new head coach, former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, have been brought in to lead this franchise in the right direction. After a disappointing 2012 season that brought 2 wins and 14 defeats, the Jaguars will look to rebound and possibly reverse those numbers. Staying quiet throughout the free agency period, the Jags are looking to produce with the players they already have.
With the recent conclusion of the Jags OTA’s, it is clear the team is going to depend on many young players to step up, and that begins with the team’s first round draft pick Luke Joeckel. Joeckel will make the switch from left tackle which he played at Texas A&M, over to right tackle. With Eugene Monroe occupying the quarterback’s blind side, the Jags are hoping their tackles will solidify a young offensive line. Elsewhere up front, the Jags will once again see veteran Brad Meester at center, and at the guards, Will Rackley and Uche Nwaneri could fill those holes, despite neither seeing the field a year ago.
Looking at the wide receivers, Cecil Shorts is easily the number 1, leading the team in 2012 with 55 receptions, 979 yards and 7 touchdowns. As for the number 2, Justin Blackmon would be the likely suspect, but due to off the field issues the Jags will be without him for the first 4 weeks of the 2013 season. Making his replacement could be veteran Mohamed Massaquoi, who the Jags signed in the offseason, Jordan Shipley, or even newcomers Ace Saunders and Denard Robinson. Aside from Massaquoi, the team has many young receivers with great speed, who hope to bring many challenges to opposing cornerbacks.
Moving to the backfield, you would think no questions would be asked about who’s starting week 1. It is clear the Jags want Maurice Jones-Drew to carry the football, but with MJD rehabbing his foot that hampered him all last season, and an incident the star running back has involved himself in, a clear starter may not be the case. Behind Drew is Justin Forsett, who last season in Houston rushed for 374 yards on 63 carries, and with the praise he has received from coaches during the offseason, he could receive a bulk of the carries regardless of Drew’s status.
The biggest question for the Jags will be their quarterback situation. A battle between Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert is ongoing and looks as though it will stay that way until week 1 is near.
Switching over to defense, there may be more questions there than on the offensive side. On the defensive line, Jason Babin will occupy one end, and Tyson Alualu looks to make the jump from the interior over to the other end position. With the departure of Terrance Knighton in the offseason, new names such as Kyle Love and Sen’derrick Marks could bolster the Jags defensive lines. At this position more than any other, the Jags will simply look to see who can perform and make plays.
With the linebackers, the middle is certain with veteran Paul Posluszny, but the rest is really up for grabs. Depth wise, the team has veterans Russell Allen and Geno Hayes, who was signed in free agency, but young talent such as Julian Stanford, among others, will attempt to make a name for themselves before the season approaches.
Moving to the secondary, Dwight Lowery really stood out last year looks to take one safety spot. The second could possibly go to rookie Johnathan Cyprien, the Jags second round pick out of Florida International. Dwayne Gratz, the rookie out of UConn could take one corner spot, while veteran Alan Ball, who the team signed early in the offseason, is making early strides for the second corner position. The defense will be young in 2013 and Khan hopes Gus Bradley, a defensive-minded coach can bring out the best in them.
It’s still a ways away from week 1 and while much is unclear, change is occurring in Jacksonville. With so many new aspects for this team, the hope is for a turnaround, no matter how small.