There is seemingly an endless list of questions that coaches, fans and journalists alike will have about every team before a season begins. Usually, the more times you say "yes" the better. What really instills confidence though is when there aren't even questions to answer.
There's an old saying I like to refer to this team a year; "The less questions you have about a team, the better they will probably be," or something like that. Of course, there are always teams that answer those questions (a la the 2007 Giants, who went from a mediocre team to Super Bowl champs). While there are teams that will rise from the ashes, it's usually a safe bet to believe in a team that doesn't have any huge questions regarding key personnel, injuries and experience.
With all that in mind, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a lot of questions and "ifs" that must be worked out. They absolutely should not be ruled of contention before the season even begins, but a position-by-position breakdown reveals that there's an abundance of "ifs" an questions floating around out there. To further analyze how confidence fans should be of the team, we'll take a look at each position's positives, lingering questions and how the position should perform. We will follow this with an overall confidence level, running from 0-10, 10 being the highest.
Pressing Question: Can John Henderson return to his old form or have his best years gone by? Bonus Question: Will Henderson even be on the opening day roster?
Breakdown: The Jaguars will be using elements of both a 4-3 and 3-4 defense this year. How that will effect personnel is not yet known but it's safe to say that every defensive lineman will be kept on a short leash, just ask John Henderson. Henderson has underperformed due to several reasons over the past few years and it has become clear that it's a get good or get gone type of deal for the former Pro Bowler. With the possible switch to a 3-4 and with Henderson's apparent decline, the team reached some for nose tackle Terrance Knighton out of Temple. At 6'3", 320 lbs., Knighton has the measurable needed to play in the 3-4 but entrusting the vital nose tackle position to a rookie who didn't see top college competition week in and week out is a bit of a risk. Rob Meier was asked to be a run stuffer last year and it was painfully obvious that he is best as a high-motor guy who can come in as a third man in a rotation and disrupt starters, which is what he will do this year. Derek Landri might fill a similar role as Meier and both could be solid 3-4 ends. Atiyyah Ellison is a big tackle that the team is hoping can exceed expectations.
The Big If: Henderson or Knighton can prove to be efficient run stoppers, then Jacksonville's linebackers can become a dominant unit as they will move freely around the field.
Our Call: Too many "ifs." If Henderson can stay healthy and get back to form at 30-years-old…if Knighton can contribute immediately as a rookie…if Meier can prove to be a consistent starter…if Ellison is a pleasant surprise. That's not to say that some of this "ifs" can't be answered positively but as the lead-in states, the more unanswered questions heading into a season, the worse a feeling you have to have.
Confidence Rating: 5
Jaguars Confidence Rating: DT
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