If I Controlled The Worst Team In America
By Troy Graham
Sit down Caldwell, it’s the fans turn now.
If I controlled the worst team in America, I would sign every player available until the roster maxed out. Yes, every player. No excuses, no stating we are rebuilding, or letting young players with “potential” get experience, but utilizing every season to give fans the best opportunity to win now, meaning actually showing effort.
In today’s NFL, there are quality players in free agency simply because of past successes not translating into what they are worth now with strict salary cap restrictions, and of course there's always the wild card variable of off-field issues. Just the name Aaron Hernandez sums up the importance of off-field issues by itself.
Yes, I am speaking of the Michael Turner, Brandon Lloyd, Jeremy Shockey, Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens, Richard Seymour, Casey Hampton and you can even throw Tim Tebow into that mix just to make this paragraph look longer. I would add Willis Mcgahee too if the Browns weren’t trying to compete with the Jaguars for worst team in the league, or which ever explanation you think fits best with the controversial Trent Richardson trade.
The point of the argument is, there is no secret that the last games of the Jags season are predicted to be a major role in the sweepstakes for top-rated collegiate quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. For a team who has had a struggling fan base and having trouble with preventing the relocation rumors, wouldn’t you not want to make the public feel you are throwing away the season?
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King did make an interesting point this past week about Jacksonville’s quarterback situation on his latest appearance on NBC’s Pro Football Talk, stating that it would not make sense for them to add another signal caller into the mix to cloud and confuse things when they are still trying to see if Blaine Gabbert can be a franchise player.
This was in a response to whether a team like the Jags should try to trade for the Buccaneer’s Josh Freeman. Personally, I like Freeman. I just believe he's gotten into a place in Tampa Bay where he is no longer motivated and just need’s a change of scenery to get out of this brief drought of production.
Like most observers though, I am not too sold on Gabbert’s potential, but King’s point allows you to understand how people are being paid so much money to allow a team to become such a push over, and it’s primarily the offensive attack. The pass defense is ranked 11th in the league, partly because it’s ranked last defending the run and teams have no need to pass on them, but it’s a start! The anemic, dreadful, ‘I can not even get past my own midfield logo at home games’ offense has not started, if the team admitted they forgot preseason was over right now, it would make a little bit more sense.
That is why earlier the majority of the players mentioned were on offense. The team is just too young outside of Maurice Jones-Drew and Brad Meester. Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon are solid receivers, but why put so much on their shoulders? A team like the Cardinals drafted Michael Floyd in the first round two years back despite having Larry Fitzgerald, the Vikings picked up Greg Jennings in free agency but still drafted Cordarelle Patterson in the first round this year, the 49ers already had Michael Crabtree locked in at the number one receiver and traded for Anquan Boldin, the Broncos acquired Wes Welker in free agency despite already having Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas and the list goes on. The rich gets richer offensively.
Why not load up like these teams do? Some of the excuse is that people don’t want to play in the underwhelming beaches of Jacksonville because it is not as big as market as Miami. But offering the right price changes that, if you are unemployed you have a price tag.
I’m pretty sure if the Jags extended an offer to T.O. and Ochocinco they would take it, the team may not think they are that desperate to steep low enough to acquire older players who could be potential distractions to the overall goal of the season, but they should be that desperate, just ask the experts and fans. Jaguars post-game highlights are hysterical. Comcast television guide describes the team as “hapless” and neighboring cities have to release public service announcements apologizing that they are required to show their games. You would have to think the city has the best tailgaters because there is no way someone in their right mind would want to experience the weekly output the team exerts. How the recent week three game versus the Colts had a little over 59k tickets sold was flabbergasting.
Also, what's the big deal of getting high profile players if they are available, especially if it’s involving a situation with a franchise with ambitions of being more marketable and increasing ticket sales. Let them have their reality shows and talk about the city, let the football world gain knowledge of something called north Florida. When Jaguars play on prime time, the broadcasters have to do a Google search to find conversational topics during dead ball periods, it’s awful.
If I was General Manager David Caldwell, I would sign them all, why not? We already are losing, at least make it interesting. All these athletes listed have experience playing deep in the playoffs. They can bring that competitive nature and presence in the locker room. Brandon Lloyd to me would be an ideal fit. He hasn’t aged as much as T.O. or Ocho and is a bigger receiver with dependable hands. Other than recently acquired second-year receiver Stephen Burton who came from the Vikings waiver wire, the team does not have anyone over 6’1 with experience.
There are just not enough playmakers. Ace Sanders could be more explosive if he could just solely concentrate on doing work in the slot, but with the lack of depth and the Blackmon suspension he has been playing on the outside. Lloyd could stretch the field and make safeties drop deeper in coverage. Another rookie who has been living up to that first year player label is Denard Robinson. He is just fast, nothing more nothing less, no true identity found yet and he really has not yet made his mark on this offense how fans were longing for. In reality, everyone would rather see him play quarterback than anything else. As long as the person back their throwing the ball is not Henne or Gabbert at this point.
Michael Turner is another bigger player who could be essential. MJD is turning 30 soon, the expiration date of when a running back is leaving their prime, and Turner could keep a steady pace. It’s not always about the statistical impact but the option of having more bodies that can possibly make plays in ideal situations. Another around the league example is how the Carolina Panthers signed Mike Tolbert, disregarding the fact of having Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart on the roster. Needless to say, their running game is not too shabby.
As a result, the need for versatility includes Jeremy Shockey too. He can be a character in the locker room and is known for freelancing and running his own routes, but it would be a huge boost to have an option coming from the line opposite of Mercedes Lewis. Lately, the league has been seeing more two tight end sets. Now that Lewis has this lingering calf injury, they wish they had a true dual threat tight end, and the offensive line still needs work despite having the rookie Luke Joeckel added this year. He has been inconsistent at best and for some reason the team decided to follow the Browns with trading one of their best players in Eugene Monroe who was at the left tackle position to the Ravens for multiple draft picks. It is thought to be ideal trade as the Ravens get younger on their line and the Jaguars are able to gain some depth through the draft and allows Joeckel to go back to his more natural left tackle position he grew up in at Texas A&M.
For a team that has allowed 18 sacks within a four game period, it shouldn’t feel encouraging if they trade their only asset in the position group. If the quarterback actually could get a comfortable feel in the pocket, it could give a chance for the fans to have something to root for.
The depth chart is pretty solid, the team putting Marcus Trufant on waivers and then picking up Will Blackmon from Seattle was a surprise because of the young defensive backfield, but you have to admit Gus Bradley does know defense. It’s just the depth of the defensive line is a little skimp and someone like Seymour who has great football instincts could excel. Other than Jason Babin, the line doesn’t have any proven playmakers. Paul Posluszny is second in the league in tackles, but he’s just a magnet for the football when it’s not in the air, not so much a drop back in coverage guy or a pass rusher. One more veteran linebacker could help because the starters can’t stay on the field the whole time.
After the Colts game, Bradley said during the team press conference, “This one stinks, this is not the result we expect, we got to continue to learn from these opportunities, we have to continue to emphasize competing, competing is not just effort, and I want my team to understand that, I think they want to. I think it’s our job as coaches, it fall on me.”
All star basketball player Kevin Durant said “hard work beats talent any day,” on his draft day, which would be a consistent variable in all sports, but only so much hard work and coaching can go so far. There’s personnel out there, just the administration has to be aggressive and not be as timid as their leader under center.
Yes, the players listed here are on the brink of retirement- if they haven't called it quits already-, and are considered ‘has beens.’ But for a suffering young team, you would think they would want has beens instead of players who have never been anything at all.