One of the other reasons for the Jaguars tendency to stick to the ground game has been the lack of personnel. Jimmy Smith was the team's last 1000 yard receiver, and he retired after the 2005 season, and Smith wasn't nearly as effective late in his career. Although Reggie Williams and Matt Jones have showed flashes from time to time, the two former first-round picks have not been able to elevate the Jaguars passing game to anything greater than mediocrity.
Until the beginning of last season, the Jaguars also had major question marks at quarterback, as Mark Brunell's heir apparent, former first-round pick Byron Leftwich was not the answer, and currently finds himself without employment in the NFL. As Jaguars fans and people around the league know, David Garrard seized control of the Jaguars quarterback controversy, and had a career year in 2007 which earned him a wealthy contract extension.
The first mission of the Jaguars offseason was to get Garrard some more weapons, and the Jaguars accomplished that early in free agency as they signed former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jerry Porter. Porter is a 6'2", 220 lb. receiver who has great speed and good hands, and can be the first legitimate number one receiver for the Jaguars since the days of Jimmy Smith. Jaguars starting quarterback David Garrard spoke fondly of his new target--
"I think he's going to be a great receiver here. He's definitely a receiver that can make a lot of spectacular plays, and I think he's going to add to the great group of receivers we already have."
Jerry Porter in Oakland
"There is no question in my mind that (David) Garrard-to-(Jerry) Porter is going to be a combination that will be very productive for us," said Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio.
Porter's contribution to the Jaguars will not be able to be measured in statistics alone, as he will likely command double-teams that should open up the underneath of the field for guys like Reggie Williams, Dennis Northcutt, and Marcedes Lewis. Although Porter has the albatross of a big contract around his neck, 6 years/$30 million, his expectations are tempered in terms of production.
"I don't go out and say I'm going to have 100 catches and 2,000 yards. It's not going to happen," Porter, the former Oakland Raiders receiver said. "I am going to go out and bust my butt every play whether it will be running, blocking or catching the ball. Just helping the team."
Although the Jaguars don't expect Porter to reach triple-digits in terms of receptions, they do hope that he can eclipse 52 receptions, which is the highest total of any receiver since Jimmy Smith left the team a few years ago. Much of Porter's success will be calculated in the team's success, and if they can improve on their number 17 ranking in the passing game.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustrated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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