By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
The Jacksonville Jaguars can thank the NFL for potentially tipping the hat of the Tennessee Titans come Draft night.
Do you honestly think the schedule makers would have put together a matchup of Tampa Bay and the Titans if both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were not going to be selected with the first to picks next Thursday night? Seriously?
With that kind of endorsement by the NFL gods, it is now up to the Jaguars to make the right call on its future.
When 8:30 roles around next Thursday night, Dave Caldwell will have the biggest decision of his short career as general manager. Should he take Leonard Williams, the huge defensive lineman from USC, the speedy pass rusher and outside linebacker in Dante Fowler, Jr or should he go against the grain and take Amari Cooper, an impact wide receiver and return specialist who gives the Jaguars the best set of your wideouts in the NFL. If Blake Bortles can take the step needed to become an elite talent in this league, then I am pretty darn excited about that choice.
But honestly, it is the wrong one for this team at the moment.
Sorry, Mel Kiper Jr. Sorry, Todd McShay. For once, listen to the voice of reason.
Cooper gives us another high impact scorer on the team, but when you look at this roster, there are obvious needs to be filled.
Safety, Running Back, Pass Rusher. Maybe not in that order, but you see the point. The wide receiver position is pretty solid, regardless of Greg Jennings signing elsewhere and the team not making any real offers to other veterans in free agency. I still suspect when June 1 rolls around and roster cuts are made, there will be a surprise or two added to this roster.
A wide receiver should be something this team looks for in the third or fourth round. Rookies don’t help this offense. Veterans do.
So now that the wide receiver talk has been put to rest, what does this team do? If both quarterbacks are taken, a lot steam is taken out of the sails of teams like Cleveland, New Orleans and St. Louis who may have wanted to make a move to secure Marcus Mariota’s talent. The Jaguars won’t have many trade offers. With 10 minutes on the clock, time moves through an hourglass faster than Deion Sanders in the 40-yard dash.
It’s less than one week until it gets a whole lot of exciting in Jacksonville. The rumors are getting hotter, the analysis is getting heavier. And for the Jaguars, the anticipation is almost painful. I so want this to be over and done with. But like everyone else, I am captured in the thrill of it all. And honestly, no matter who the team chooses, we will all be excited.
Even if it’s the wrong thing to do.
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
Now, it’s time to get excited. The Jacksonville Jaguars open the 2015 NFL season at home against the Carolina Panthers. What a fitting way to open the 21st season of this team’s existence with the team that starting its infancy with the Jaguars in 1995.
Can I get an Amen from the congregation?
This is what football is all about. As fans have discussed the offseason, free agency and the NFL Draft until they are blue in the face, now we all know who will not only be in EverBank Field, but when it will happen. A collective roar was heard across the First Coast. Now, it’s beginning to look at lot like football.
The schedule for the Jaguars presents its challenges, but it also gives the team a chance to show what the new roster – which is not complete since the NFL Draft has not taken place – is made of.
I remember the first game the Jacksonville Jaguars played in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio against the Panthers. The feeling was euphoric then and for many reasons, there is a feeling of euphoria now as this franchise finally looks like it can contend to at least be relevant in the NFL again.
According to Jaguars.com, The first seven weeks include five games against teams with .500 records or better last season, and three games against teams that won their divisions last season. Carolina, Indianapolis and New England all won divisions.
The Jaguars play back-to-back road games coming out of the bye, visiting the New York Jets (4-12) November 8 and the Baltimore Ravens (10-6) November 15, before playing host to the Tennessee Titans (2-14) on November 19 on Thursday Night Football, the team’s lone 2015 prime-time game.
Like most of you, I have gone through the schedule and looked at our opponents and already have my predictions for wins and losses. There are nine solid wins in this schedule and the potential for more if the team plays over its head or gets hot toward the end of the season.
You never know in the NFL. Remember – any given Sunday.
Now with the schedule released and the anticipation of the NFL Draft (there are only eight more days) it is truly a wonderful time to not only be a Jaguars fan, but a fan of professional football. The time off has been long, the wait has been treacherous and most of all, the desire to see a winning product on the field has been almost too much to bear for some of us fans.
The saving grace is now we all know who we play, when we play and which games are certainly winnable. The rest will take care of itself.
Just just think, it may only be April, but it sure seems September is right around the corner.
The D-LINE, the official drum line of the Jacksonville Jaguars, will hold open auditions on Saturday, May 2 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields. Auditions are open to drummers and cymbal players. Registration is available on http://www.jaguars.com/fanzone/d-line/auditions.html. Media are encouraged to attend.
Parking on Saturday will be available in Lot N, on the west side of the stadium. All musicians are required to bring practice pads, sticks and chops. All musicians must be 18 years of age or older to try out. Auditions will be closed to the public. For more information, please call (904) 633-6000.
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
Over the weekend, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Denard Robinson did what every player faced with the possibility of losing their starting position should do regarding their current team.
He told the team not to count him out.
The quarterback at Michigan turned running back in the NFL was impressive in the middle part of last season, solidifying himself as the starter going into the 2015 season. But the announcement by Gus Bradley earlier in the offseason that Robinson would start, sharing the load with Toby Gerhart, seemed tenuous at best. Gerhart is now a fullback and Robinson, who worked hard in the offseason last year to work on curing his fumbling and proved to be a dependable resource for then offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch while Blake Bortles learned how to play quarterback in the NFL.
The Jaguars have made more secret about the fact they want to get better at the position and were active in the DeMarco Murray sweepstakes. Now, the team is rumored to be in the hunt to acquire Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, or they are said to want to draft a stud running back in the second or third round of the NFL Draft.
In this situation, Robinson cannot win. Despite leading the team in rushing and showing he can move the chains, “Shoelace” must sit and wait and see what happens in the next days.
I don’t think Peterson will be wearing teal and black any time soon. While there is a real possibility that the team drafts Ajay Ajayi, Tevin Coleman or TJ Yeldon, Robinson should not be counted out and is certainly not going to lose his role without a fight. That kind of spirt and desire is exactly why the team took a chance on him in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. That is the reason why the running game will be better this season.
The Jaguars have been lucky in the past, selecting tailbacks like Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew and figure to have found another gem in Robinson. He is not the ideal size for a starter in this league and has not proven yet he can take the pounding of a starting running back over 16 games. But the determination and the desire are admirable and are a reason to think he will begin the 2015 season as the starter until.
At some point, Robinson may be unseated by a rookie or even someone they sign in free agency. But for now, our starter wears No. 16. And personally, I wouldn’t bet against him.
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
Last year following the NFL Draft last season, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley issued a challenge to now jettisoned wide receiver, Cecil Shorts.
He told the often-injured pass catcher he wanted him to be a solid performer on the field, but he challenged him to be the leader of a young corps of wide receivers who were neophytes by NFL standards. Shorts was asked about the responsibilities Bradley had just given him, and to his credit he said he welcomed the chance to show he could be a leader on and off the field for the Jaguars and show Marquise Lee, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns how it was done in the Jaguars organization.
Now, Shorts is in Houston. The receiving corps is a year older and the players who looked to the fourth-year pro for guidance need a new leader of the band. Julius Thomas needs to be that player.
Thomas is an accomplished tight end, receiver, and touchdown maker – all things the Jaguars have lacked. And despite the fact 2010 was a Pro Bowl season for Marcedes Lewis, this is an organization that has never had a superstar at the position. Now the team does and Thomas’ message off the field needs to be as strong as the one on the field.
Great players in the NFL lead by example. They have a common thread their teammates see, pick up on and tend to gravitate towards. It’s not a learned concept, it’s instinctual. In the NFL, you either lead or you follow. Those who lead are the ones with the highest salaries, the biggest paydays and the most exposure (for the good) in the league. The Jaguars still need that type of player. I have harped on it many times before.
With an offense this young and this inexperienced and figures to get younger after the NFL Draft, there has to be a veteran willing to step forward. Besides Blake Bortles, who will take a giant leap this season with his leadership and on-field ability, Thomas has to be the obvious choice – not because the head coach asked him – but because he was brought in to do more than catch footballs.
So far, it appears Thomas is willing accept this “understood” challenge from the team and the fans who are in dire need of a winning franchise.
If Thomas becomes as valuable to the team in the locker room and on the practice field as he is in live action, then maybe the price for his services will be viewed as a bargain. Thomas has to want to be the “man” in this offense. He has to be the “man” who takes everyone under his wing. For that to happen and be successful, there have to be a common thread that winning breeds winning. If losing is like a disease, then winning is like an elixir. Maybe Thomas has just the right prescription to make everyone on this offense a winner.