It’s Heating Up for Jags’ Gene Smith

Posted: June 6, 2012 in Jacksonville Jaguars
Tags: , , , , , , ,

No one could have been more shaken by Justin Blackmon’s aggravated DUI arrest, a felony, than Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith. Well, except for Blackmon himself.

Smith’s job – indeed, perhaps even his career as an NFL GM – is riding on Blackmon. Smith’s track record in the draft is mediocre, at best. While his first 1st-round selection, left tackle Eugene Monroe, has developed into a solid player he hasn’t lived up to being the No. 8 overall pick. Smith’s second 1st-round pick, quarterback Blaine Gabbert, had an awful rookie season. While everyone agrees Gabbert needs more time before we can make an accurate judgment, many critics (including yours truly) are convinced he’ll be a bust.

And now Blackmon has stumbled before he even signs his rookie contract. Last weekend’s DUI arrest was his second in two years. Red flags are popping up everywhere concerning his character and maturity.

Just as the Jaguars were in desperate need of a quarterback heading into the 2011 draft, they were desperate for big-time help at wide receiver heading into this year’s draft. Trading up to get Blackmon, the consensus top WR, was considered a crafty move by Smith. The only risk factor was Blackmon’s prior alcohol-related problem.

If Gabbert doesn’t make remarkable improvement this season and if Blackmon doesn’t make an immediate positive impact, the Jaguars will fall deeper into a hole that has kept them out of the playoffs for four straight seasons.

How will Blackmon’s latest arrest affect his career? Obviously no one knows the answer, but it can’t help. Does Blackmon have a problem with alcohol? Is he simply immature? Can he be that stupid? Is he just a bad guy?

He clearly enjoys the nightlife offered at our beaches if you believe the stories floating around during his first month in Jacksonville. Most healthy and single young people enjoy the bar scene. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as they know when to say when.

There’s no doubt Smith and his scouts spent countless hours evaluating Blackmon as a player and a person. Smith has made it clear how high he rates character when signing players.

Still, he has to understand it’s a gamble with every player. Young men with money to burn and fans clamoring to be near them often develop a sense of entitlement and think they’re immune to the rules the rest of us have to follow. To use an old cliché, they think of themselves as bulletproof.

I have been told that new owner Shad Kahn has serious reservations about Smith as the team’s GM. If Blackmon, for whatever reason, doesn’t pan out, Smith likely will be shown the door.


  1. Jeff says:

    Perhaps I missed something in the reporting, but while all the stories seem to be about “how this makes the Jag’s look bad”, what I see is something more. The Jaguars lost the ability to market their number one pick, lost the ability to gain a financial return on their investment, being unable to show their number one pick as a face of the franchise. Perhaps, if Mr. Blackmon has an exceptional rookie year, the Jaguars can, next year, promote and feature him as a face of the franchise, but he won’t have the newness that adds value, and adds to the value of his being the number one pick.

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