We’re back with more of the 2009 RotoRob NFL Draft Kit for you today with yet another team preview (we’re now almost halfway through these puppies). We’re going to try to shoot out all these team previews and then start releasing the kit’s other goodies (cheat sheets, sleepers/busts lists, etc.). While you Miami Dolphin fans wonder if the team name will be changed to the Miami Sound Machine, let’s consider whether the Jacksonsonville Jaguars can recover from last season’s disaster.
What Went Right
Following an 11-5 season in 2007, Jacksonville lagged to a 5-11 mark in 2009. Maurice Jones-Drew put up a near replica of his sterling rookie year which marked the only significant positive happening for a once rugged team. Receiver Matt Jones finally put together a solid year by his standards, which will help him headed into this…oh wait, strike that from the record.
What Went Wrong
The Jags began the regular season with injuries to the offensive line and it had a trickle down effect. Finishing second in the league in rushing in ’07, Jack Del Rio’s team fell on hard times following the injuries. Predictably, a 32 year-old Fred Taylor, coming off a great year, flopped by running for just 556 yards and scoring only one touchdown. In other not-so-surprising developments, a quarterback received a big payday (David Garrard) and crashed back to earth, and the once hard-boiled defense got trampled by quality opposition.
Jacksonville needed an infusion of youth in a few key areas, but erred on the side of experience by bringing in long-time Ram receiver Torry Holt and former Eagle offensive tackle Tra Thomas.
With its first two picks, Jacksonville addressed its offensive line depth, selecting tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton. Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton may help fill the gaping hole left by the departure of Marcus Stroud in ’08, while receiver Mike Thomas has been compared to Wes Welker. With a dearth of quality receivers, Thomas may get a chance to contribute right away.
State of the Team
Quarterback plays well, leads team to playoffs and gets a big contract. Same quarterback leads team to a disappointing effort and underperforms the next year. Heard this one before? Filling the role in ’08 was Garrard, who posted 15 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. With Jacksonville’s offensive line woes, the team struggled to run and ended up throwing the ball more, which does not suit Garrard’s strengths. He is a far better quarterback playing off the run because of play action and not being forced to push the ball downfield. If the Jags can get the running game going again, that can only benefit Garrard, who is strictly back-up fodder on Fantasy rosters. Former Viking Todd Bouman will be Garrard’s backup. Regardless, here’s hoping we will still be able to see Garrard’s wild post-game suits.
Backs over 30 years old live on borrowed time and despite being a franchise icon, Taylor’s days were numbered at end of ‘08. Armed with a new four-year, $32.8-million contract, Jones-Drew enters the year as one of the top backs in Fantasy football. Over the past three seasons, MJD owns 38 touchdowns and is a multi-purpose threat that is a good option in any scoring system. The early party line is that fullback Greg Jones is going to take up the Taylor role. Remember the name Chauncey Washington. He is a speedy second-year back out of USC, who will likely see duty as well.
Is there a worst trio of receivers for a team to trust heading into a season than Troy Williamson, Jerry Porter and Matt Jones? They were the proverbial boom or bust group and they didn’t accomplish much even though the Jags threw the ball plenty more in 2008. Holt’s arrival will help from an experience standpoint, but his best days are behind him as he enters his 11th season with a knee problem that is slowing him down. Look for Holt to start along with either veteran Dennis Northcutt or the unproven Mike Walker. To paraphrase the auditory work of Stone Cold Steve Austin, don’t trust anyone in this group.
The phrase “Fantasy value” and “Jaguars tight end” don’t go together. In 2008, Marcedes Lewis tied for second on the team in touchdown receptions…with two. Ranking 20th in standard scoring amongst tight ends is similar to being the 10th best heavyweight fighter in the world. There isn’t much regard for either. Lewis is strictly a backup at best. Behind Lewis is Greg Estandia, who has 19 catches in three years to his credit.
Besides not forcing turnovers, a lack of quarterback pressure, and allowing opponents to attack them through the air, the Jags defense was slightly average, ranking 18th in the league in ’08. Jacksonville tried to address defensive concerns in the 2008 draft, but on-field success failed to materialize for them. Leading return man Brian Witherspoon is back, but the Jags still are missing home run pop in their return game. For the Jaguars to return to their previous defensive glory, they better learn how to sack quarterbacks or the problems of ‘08 will rise again.