Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Fun With Mediocrity - Jacksonville Jaguars Style

Check out these two competing previews on the Jacksonville Jaguars...

Will someone step up and assume the #1 receiver role?
Writer "A": "There is hope from a lot of Jacksonville fans that someone will step up, but I just don't see that guy on the roster right now. Ernest Wilford is a bigger, slower receiver who really would benefit from having a true No. 1 opposite of him. Reggie Williams was selected in the first round of the 2004 draft to be the guy, but he is way too inconsistent. Matt Jones has excellent athletic skills but is still extremely raw in terms of knowing all the nuisances that go into being a go-to receiver. The team re-signed veteran Troy Edwards, but he is best suited as a No. 3. The bottom line is the Jaguars do not have a true No. 1 receiver. They have a bunch of No. 3s and No. 4s."

Writer "B": "Well, someone has to, right? I mean, every team has a #1 receiver, even if he sucks (look at Kansas City or San Francisco, for example). The person best able to? Reggie Williams has been a huge disappointment for his first two pro years, which is weird since he rocked at UW, but he sure can't be counted on. Matt Jones showed flashes of brilliance his rookie year, but he is still learning the position and it would be unfair to expect huge things out of him this year. That leaves Ernest Wilford, a semi-talented receiver who seemed to be Leftwich's favorite target outside of Smith. Wilford doesn't exactly have breakaway speed, but he runs acceptable routes and gets open (basically, a lesser version of D-Jack). So, the correct answer is Ernest Wilford, but the even MORE correct answer (if you go to the probable direction of this question, which is will any receiver become a star) is no one. If you asked me the same question at the beginning of NEXT season, I would lean towards Matt Jones on both counts. I love that guy."

Is Byron Leftwich going to step up and reach his potential?
Writer "A": "The addition of former Vikings head coach Mike Tice should help Leftwich develop. Although Tice never has been a QB coach, he has been around some very good QBs in his days with the Vikings. He is a very good communicator with players, and I think he and Leftwich will develop a solid rapport. Leftwich did not put up big numbers last season, but he did improve. He threw 15 touchdowns to five interceptions, which is a good indication that his decision making was better. The Jags likely will take more chances in the passing game this season. That could increase Leftwich's interception total some, but it also should result in more big plays, something this offense needs."

Writer "B": "What? What kind of stupid question is that? Leftwich was an acceptable quarterback last year who struggled in the postseason because Jack DelRio stupidly assumed that he was entirely ready to go. Leftwich comes from the Matt Leinart school of quarterbacking. He will be a solid quarterback, but he'll never be a superstar quarterback. That's fine, and those sort of quarterbacks can win Super Bowls (Brad Johnson), but I don't know what more Jaguar fans should be expecting from him. His "potential" (are we talking about the NBA now?) isn't a 10, it's more like a 7 or, at most, an 8. He was almost there last season, and I doubt he will take any huge steps back this season, but no steps forward. Smith is gone. Taylor is a year older. His receiving corps is young and inexperienced. Tendency to get injured. No."

Will Jacksonville be able to overtake Indianapolis?
Writer "A": "I don't think so, but I put it on the list because so many fans keep asking me this question. Personally, I think the Jaguars would be lucky to get back to 12-4. I think their fans and organization are in a little bit of denial about just how good this team is. Sure, they went 12-4 last season, but they showed in their playoff loss in New England that their record was more fluke than fact. Jacksonville won eight of its last 10 games last season, but all those wins came against teams that missed the playoffs. Jacksonville's goal will be to win the AFC South, but its focus will be on just getting back to the playoffs."

Writer "B": "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Um, no. No, they will not be able to overtake Indianapolis. I don't even know what kind of analysis could cause someone to lean the other way. I mean, sure, they might BEAT Indy once next season. Big whup. The Arizona Cardinals beat the Seahawks two years ago, and the 49ers barely lost to the Seahawks once last season. But, seriously, the Jags played absolutely no one on their schedule last season, and looked remarkably horrible for a supposed 12-4 team against New England, both offensively and defensively. The problem, in my opinion, was that they didn't seem to actually improve as the season moved along. At the beginning of the season they looked great, even of course beating Seattle (and they were the better team at that point). But they either stayed the same or regressed by the end of the season on both sides, never quite dominating."

Position Battle (Reggie Williams, Ernest Wilford, Troy Edwards)
Writer "A": "Wilford will begin the season as the starter. He has shown good overall production in his first few seasons, but a lot of that was based on having veteran Jimmy Smith playing opposite him. Wilford is a slow, possession-type receiver who can use his frame to make some plays in a crowd, but he is not a guy who is gong to be able to separate from people consistently.
Williams, on the other hand, has a ton of talent, but a lack of focus has hindered his ability to make plays on a consistent basis. Edwards is the wild card. He has more experience than the two players ahead of him on the depth chart. He is a guy who also has some focus issues at times, but he knows how to get open and has a much better feel for the game. Each of the three players adds a little different dimension, but this is not a wide-open offense, so a lot of plays will come from two-receiver sets."


Writer "B": "Um, wasn't this the first question? Having a hard time coming up with actual questions to consider when talking about the Jaguars? Also, where is Matt Jones in this question? Honestly, this isn't even a battle. These are the top three wide receivers, who will be used interchangeably in whatever way best moves the chains. This isn't a battle. This is a stupid question. I'm done with it."

Player under the microscope
Writer "A": "WR Williams. Williams was drafted with the ninth overall pick in the 2004 to be the heir apparent to longtime productive WR Jimmy Smith. With Smith's sudden retirement, that time has come. However, Williams has done very little in his first two NFL seasons. He played a little better at times last season, but he is still a guy who has exactly one TD reception in two NFL seasons. Williams has talent, but he has had trouble adjusting to the speed of the NFL game. His hands also have been a lot more inconsistent than he showed at the college level. Heading into camp, Williams is listed as the No. 3 receiver. He needs to step up and become a starter at this point, though, or he officially can start carrying the "bust" title."

Writer "B": "How about Fred Taylor? The media keeps telling us that this dude is just the shizz-nit, but he keeps getting injured by Week 4 and he never looks that dominant when he's actually in the huddle. His age is also catching up to him, so this season might be his last wearing a Jags uniform. The front office thought so as well, drafting Maurice Drew from UCLA. Don't be surprised if Drew is starting sooner rather than later. The Jags might be better off with sooner just to see what they have in him before looking to the draft next year."

Breakout Player
Writer "A": "Rookie TE Marcedes Lewis. On a team with very few legitimate receiving threats, Lewis has a chance to make an immediate impact. Lewis' stock might have slipped a little in the draft, but that was only because of his 40 time, which was in the low 4.8 range. Lewis plays much faster. He is a polished receiver with solid hands. He is a good route runner, and on tape he shows the speed to press the seam. He will have plenty of opportunities to make plays in the short to intermediate passing game."

Writer "B": "An actual breakout player on the Jags? You know, my pick wouldn't generally be considered a breakout player by true Jags fans, because he's already awesome, but no one outside of Florida seems to know about him. I'm talking about a man who's developing into one of the best cornerbacks in the game, Rashean Mathis. Obviously I haven't seen enough Jags football to see his weaknesses as well, but the games I have seen him in (like against Seattle last season), he really stood out to me as one of the leaders on the defense. This might be the season that he finally gets double digit picks and gets some well-deserved praise."

Comeback Player of the Year
Writer "A": "SS Donovin Darius. This is an easy choice. Darius played in only two games last year before injuring his knee and being placed on IR. Darius will turn 31 this summer, but he was still playing at a solid level before the injury. It would be tough to say he can come back and play at the same level he did before the injury, but his presence back in the lineup still will pay dividends. Darius is a physical, run-support strong safety, and the Jaguars were inconsistent in their ability to stop the run. He is also a smart player who is a leader on the field -- he is the type of player who makes everyone else better by just being on the field."

Writer "B": "There are only a few players on the Jags roster that can even qualify for this award, since you must have sucked in the preceding season. Thus, I'm forced to pick an individual who I don't actually think will be that much better, but he couldn't be any worse. That's tackle Mike Williams, who the Jags picked up off the scrap heap from Buffalo. He possesses a nice physique and serious skills, but he's lazy and underperforms. Maybe THE Mike Tice can mold him into an actual player. Hey, that pencil isn't just for looks, you know?"

Offensive Philosophy
Writer "A": "The Jaguars already have gone through a few offensive coordinators during the Jack Del Rio era. Carl Smith took over the job last season, but it already appears his authority will be somewhat stripped. This offseason, the Jaguars added Tice, who has an offensive background and will be involved heavily on the offensive side of the football. In fact, the Jaguars already have started to incorporate some of the Vikings' system into their offense. This means we will see more two-tight end sets in Jacksonville along with a lot more emphasis on the vertical passing game. Initially, Tice will not be the play caller, but his influence in the system will be felt. Should the Jaguars struggle on offense early, it also would not be a surprise to see Tice become involved in play calling."

Writer "B": "Answer: Try desperately to score points. No, their philosophy is going to be the same as the majority of teams in the NFL. They will try to run to set up the pass, unless the running game fails, and then they will try to pass to set up the run. It's called football. Look for Taylor to get plenty of touches early, and for them to operate the run and pass out of the shotgun, where Leftwich seems WAY more comfortable. The passing game will attempt a few long balls (Reggie Williams), but a short approach with multiple slant routes will be the norm. At least, that's the way it was, and I see no reason that they will attempt to change that since they just lost their best receiver."

Defensive Philosophy
Writer "A": "The Jaguars' defense is coordinated by Mike Smith, but Del Rio (a former defensive coach and player) has a lot of input into the constructing of the defensive scheme. Jacksonville is a team that likes to zone blitz. The Jags are a fairly conservative defense, though, and will play a lot of zone behind their blitz pressure. They are a bend-but-don't-break type of defense that does not take a lot of chances in coverage. However, I have been told Jacksonville will play more man coverage this season. The addition of cornerback Brian Williams gives the Jaguars another solid man cover corner opposite Rashean Mathis. They will get Darius back from injury, and he is a guy who makes sure everyone gets lined up properly. The Jaguars are an excellent defensive team, but too often they get caught playing on their heels. You can expect them to come out and be a little more aggressive this season."

Writer "B": "Answer: Attempt to stop the other team from scoring points. Seriously, the defense operates from the two stalwarts in the middle, Stroud and Henderson. That's the focal point. They allow everything to open up for MLB Mike Peterson, who is a sure tackler. This is why they are an excellent team against the run. However, the secondary, outside of Mathis, could use a little work, which is why they picked up Brian Williams from Minnesota. They should continue to be tough against the run (health of players permitting), while protecting against the deep ball. A good defense overall."

In case you didn't get the point yet, Writer "A" is Scouts Inc extroardinaire Jeremy Green, and Writer "B" is Colin. Writer "A" gets paid tons of money to be called an "expert", and Colin's not wearing pants right now. The Crushed Optimists are sick and tired of these pansy previews. These people get paid real money to tell us real information about these teams. Jacksonville isn't even in the friggin' NFC and Colin knows more than this yutz. Yes, it is obvious that we have been bored with these training camp "previews". Bring on the real analysis, people.

posted by Gavin @ 6:09 PM  0 comments

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