By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
The Jaguars have been on the clock since the day after the final day of the NFL season. Player direction changes in coaches, changes in ticket packages and of course – changes in how this team will play in the 2014 season are all on the minds of the team, the management, the media and the fans in the area.
For the past two months, we continually have discussed getting better, making changes to the franchise, adding players to the roster and releasing high-cost, low production athletes who may not be the best fit for the upcoming year. That is great and in terms of “coach speak” and the company line by management, it is the right thing to do. But honestly, if the players on the current roster who remain after free agency and the draft and then through training camp and the preseason cannot produce more than they did in 2013, this will be a wasted season.
Jacksonville cannot afford that kind of let down. In other words, those left must “Do Their Job,” where anything less will not be tolerated.
I hate to put a damper on what looks like could be a huge next two weeks for this franchise, but the reality and the tunnel vision that might be skewed needs to be explained a bit. The Jaguars are still a 4-12 team, they are making changes to their stadium and ticket packages to appease fans, and they are saying the right things in the media. But actions right now speak louder than words. There is $60 million to be spent in free agency and I, like many of you want every last drop used to make this team better.
For some reason, I do not think that is what will happen come next Tuesday. The Jaguars will be “modest” players in the free agency period and will wait to see who paws at top stars and make mid-range decisions to keep a level playing field for the team financially. This will not become the Jaguars of the late 1990s and early 2000s where “Cap Hell” led to some pricy and popular players being cut or traded for cap space.
The team will rely on the current players like Andre Branch, Cecil Shorts, Austin Pasztor and Alan Ball to have even better seasons than they did in 2013. And rookies from last season in the secondary and on the offensive line and even in the running game had better show more heart and spirit and improvement than last year’s campaign.
Everyone should know their role and work hard to maintain it.
Personally, I am excited about what will happen on Tuesday and by this time next week, the team should have new and exciting players to tout and cause a frenzy. But let’s not forget the ones who we follow consistently. They will be the ones we scrutinize the most. Everyone on this team – new and old – must do their job.
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
There is a new mantra the NFL is following when it comes to this week and the 2014 NFL season.
There is no crying when it comes to free agency.
The time of the year where popular and unpopular decisions are made. The reality of what a player is worth versus what he thinks he should be paid. The truth behind the words of Jerry Jones when he says some of his players are great – when they are on the field and playing at their full potential.
Reality has set in, so much so that within less than a week, we will see what the league thinks in terms of dollars and sense with stars like Michael Johnson, Red Bryant and others. Some will be rewarded for their services (Michael Bennett) while others may not like hearing the truth about their numbered days in the NFL (Maurice Jones-Drew).
The NFL is a “Not for Long” league and these players who are paid handsomely are forgetting that they do something you, I and millions would give anything to do on a daily basis.
When the Jaguars cut Uche Nwaneri on Tuesday, it spoke volumes about what the teams was trying to accomplish:
I would suspect the Jaguars will release other popular players before the end of Monday to free up cap space, much to the dislike of the fan base here in town. The best way to please those who buy tickets and come to the game is WINNING, which – if done properly – these moves and these acquisitions will take care of.
The changes that began yesterday may have surprised a lot of fans and maybe some media across the country. But what will shock them more is if the changes made and the moves that take place have a direct result on this team’s record in 2014.
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
With $60 million already in the hopper, the Jaguars looked primed and ready to make a splash in free agency. The words of David Caldwell notwithstanding, it looked as though the team would be heavily involved in the free agent market in the team’s second season of rebuilding.
The idea of the Jaguars going “All In” on free agents might have been further confirmed on Tuesday when the team released Uche Nwaneri and his $3.7 million contract. Was this a move to clear cap space or was it a move that the team wanted to get better on the offensive line or was it a move that because of Nwaneri’s age (29), the team, most notably Caldwell, thought he was too old for the team’s dynamic.
Whatever the reasons, Nwaneri’s departure leaves two huge holes on the offensive line at guard and center. It could also be argued that there entire interior offensive line is a huge hole and the only two positions safe right now are the two tackle spots occupied by Luke Joeckel and Austin Pasztor.
The move could also mean the team will move Pasztor inside to guard, while Cameron Bradfield gets a shot at the right tackle slot.
The Jaguars are expected now to seek offensive linemen in free agency and possibly the Draft.
The offensive line is a key unit to replenish, but the Jaguars must first find a pass rush and a quarterback before anything else. Receiver and running back are also two units the team must restock.
At some point, as it was pointed out Tuesday on 1010XL’s “The Mike Dempsey Show,” the Jaguars are going to have to spend lots of money to make moves to help this team take major steps toward the playoffs. This may not be the season, but it is a leap that is forthcoming.
If the Jaguars do not use some of that cap space and attack the areas that need to be filled with “name” free agents or at least part-time starters, then the fan base and the media have the right to question the moves or the last thereof. Free agency should also give the fans and media an idea of where this team is headed in the draft. Two or three defensive starters, a solid linebacker and maybe a quality corner for depth could be the answer. So could a running back, a starter opposite Cecil Shorts and line depth.
Everything is crap shoot right now and should prove to be very interesting come this weekend.
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
A former editor of mine tells a story about seeing her grandparents each summer as a child. The farm in North Carolina served as her home away from home. And each year no matter how tattered that farm looked, the old barn got a new coat of paint and some repairs to the wood-built walls. Odd thing – as she has told this story over and over again for years – is the same materials were in the barn, no matter how many times you thought new kinds of livestock would live there.
“Kathy” was great at spinning a yarn and then making a sports analogy of some sort to show her love of the game. That “new coat of paint” could be used in the same context when describing our Jaguars and how year after year we cannot allow the same product on the field – no matter how management of the coaching staff tries to disguise it.
I’m not saying that is the case, but at the same time, the team cannot fall into a trap of thinking something is going to work and then it falls apart with the snapping of the ball.
Fans have seen that all too often with the Jack Del Rio and Mike Mularkey eras in this town. It appears Gus Bradley and David Caldwell will not only paint the barn, but stock the silo, make sure the hay is delivered and seed the grass well before the sun comes up. It leaves you with a sense that the team “or farm” will look the part. But as we all know, sometimes, intentions and reality are not one in the same.
What if the pass rush does not improve?
Can Chad Henne win more than four games?
Who will play opposite Cecil Shorts?
Can the offensive line play well enough so the team can use a running game?
Who will run the ball with Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield?
If the team can show a coat of paint isn’t the only thing that makes this team look like a contender or even an improved team, then the analogy used by Kathy and myself is all but lore. However – if the team looks the part, acts the part, and then gets on the field and lays an egg, well then it is point well taken
By Will Brown: (@wwbrown19)
English media has lamented the increase in foreign ownership of its soccer clubs for years. However, commentaries will not staunch the influx of overseas ownership in that country.
Friday, Richard Williams of The Guardian, wrote a commentary that once again wondered aloud about the impact of foreign ownership in English soccer. He used Fulham Football club as an example of a club that may have done it right.
The problem is Williams was referencing previous owner Mohamed Al Fayed.
Fulham has a 6-3-19 record, or 21 points, which is good enough for dead last in the English Premier League. Saturday’s 3-1 loss against league leaders Chelsea underscores how dire the situation is for Shad Khan’s other football team. Not only does Fulham have the worst record in the EPL, but they have the worst goal difference of the 20 teams in the league, and their 62 goals allowed is more than any top-flight team in the top five European leagues.
“Would they be in this demoralising position had Fayed stayed on? At least, unlike his successor, he was not one of those absentee owners who resemble the rich folk currently purchasing London mansions and penthouse flats as investments and leaving them empty,” Williams wrote. “Khan attends the occasional match at the Cottage — which is more than can be said for Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi, the owner of Manchester City — but his physical commitment, like his knowledge of football, is at best semi-detached.”
Williams admitted Fayed had his quirks. Fans will tolerate eccentricities so long as their team is productive. The problem with Fulham under Khan’s leadership is they are not.
Fulham has 10 games to save its season. Unlike the Jaguars, Khan’s other investment will not be rewarded with an opportunity to sign some of the best talent around because of failures in previous seasons. If Fulham doesn’t win games, the more the better, the club will be relegated to a lower league.
So what you say?
Well, far smarter people have estimated that relegation from the English Premier League will cost a team more than $30 million in television revenue. That doesn’t even include reduced income from gate receipts, sponsor dollars and selling players at cut-rate prices.
Khan spent a reported £200 million to buy the club last summer. Anyone who spends that type of money on anything would not be thrilled if their investment substantially depreciated within a year.
The appointment of Felix Magath to be Fulham’s manager may be the latest ploy to save the season and secure top-flight status.
Magath has won a league championship in Germany with two different clubs. He has also fallen out with just about every club he’s managed in the last 15 years — occasionally with disastrous results preceding his exit.
“It wasn't lost on me that introducing a third manager in a season would appear, let's say, unconventional or unpopular — or both," Khan wrote in the program for Saturday's match against Chelsea according to the Associated Press. "I expected the scrutiny and know there will be more ahead. I accept this and welcome the responsibility, because the alternative was risking a non-stop slide in the table in the hope that better results would occur in time to save our season."
Khan, as well as other Jaguars officials, has repeatedly stated the two clubs will have strategic synergies. The New York Times devoted an entire feature about just that back in October when the Jags were in London to play San Francisco.
Fulham had just as many games televised nationally in the United States this season as the Jaguars did — yet another perk of playing in the English Premier League. If the club is to be self-sustaining in the near future, as Khan told the Times he prefers, second-tier soccer will not be satisfactory.
In order to avoid that fate, Fulham must have a late-season resurgence, like the Jags did in 2013. Otherwise, the consequences of relegation would reverberate across the Atlantic.