There is Hope for Jaguars

Posted: July 30, 2012 in Jacksonville Jaguars, sports

The beauty of the opening of training camp is a fresh start. It is a time of seeing the glass as more than half filled. Except for the most cynical fans, past woes are just that, past. Hope springs eternal.

Die-hard Jaguar fans see Blaine Gabbert throwing touchdown bombs to Laurent Robinson and completing key third-down passes to Justin Blackmon. They see Andre Branch slamming Matt Schab to the turf. A 5-11 record of last fall be damned. A new day, with a new coaching staff, has arrived.

The Jaguars, indeed, can be playoff contenders this season, but – here’s a dose of reality – a lot of things have to go right.

At the top of the list is second-year quarterback Gabbert has to make significant improvement in nearly every aspect of his game from leadership to being tougher in the pocket. Rookie Blackmon has to make an immediate impact and tight end Marcedes Lewis has to return to his 2010 form.

That’s a lot to wish for and I’ve just revealed the tip f the iceberg.

Defensive end Jeremy Mincey must continue to improve and Branch, the rookie out of Clemson, has to make an impact rushing the quarterback. Defensive tackles Terrence Knighton and Tyson Alualu need to play a little better than they have and stay healthy. Right guard Will Rackley has to prove he’s a solid NFL player.

Then there’s the coaching staff. Did head coach Mike Mularkey learn from his only other head coaching job, an unsuccessful two-year stint in Buffalo.

Notice I didn’t mention Maurice Jones-Drew. I do expect him to be ready for the start of the season and I expect him to perform well. Jaguar fans should hope, however, he doesn’t lead the NFL in rushing again. If he does, it likely will mean the passing game still stinks.

That’s a lot to expect, which is why most experts think the Jaguars will come closer to matching their 5-11 record of ’11 instead of challenging for a playoff spot.

I agree with them mainly because I’ve seen nothing from Gabbert to make me think otherwise.


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