Jaguars 5 Major Questions

After two dismal last-place finishes, the Jacksonville Jaguars and head coach Jack Del Rio are "all in" for 2010. It's basically win or find work elsewhere for much of the team, including the coaching staff. JagNation will examine the five major questions that the Jaguars need to be answered positively for the team to make a postseason appearance.

5. How good will special teams be?

The Jaguars are a team that has arguably the worst quarterback in the division and although their roster has nice players, they are void of a lot of top-tiered talent. If the Jaguars are going to win games against seemingly more talented opposition (which happens every week in the NFL), they have to do all of the little things well, and it starts with special teams. The team brought in three-time Pro Bowler Kassim Osgood to help in kickoff and punt coverage, and he and Montell Owens could be the best two "gunners" in football. Adam Podlesh needs to simply kick the ball farther with greater hang time (41.9 yard gross average a year ago), and kicker Josh Scobee must be more consistent than he was in 2009 (only connected on 18 of 28 field goal attempts). Jacksonville needs to make plays in the return game and they hope sixth-round draft pick Scotty McGee can assist in that department.

4. Can another wide receiver step up?

Jacksonville saw Mike Sims-Walker break out in 2009 after two injury-riddled seasons. Sims-Walker developed into the best Jaguars receiver since Jimmy Smith retired and the team hopes that he can at least replicate last year's campaign, if not improve upon it. The rest of the wide receiving corps is mostly a group of unknowns without much of a resume. The Jaguars need either Mike Thomas, Troy Williamson, Jarett Dillard, Kassim Osgood or Nate Hughes to step up into a productive number two role. If Jacksonville can have two reliable targets on the outside, things should open up in the center of the football field for tight ends Marcedes Lewis and Zach Miller.

3. How will the team respond to a coach under fire?

Jack Del Rio's contract may show that he's employed by Wayne Weaver through the 2011 season, but everyone in the know believes that this is Del Rio's final chance to prove that he can get the job done. In seven seasons as head coach, Jacksonville fans have witnessed just three playoff games, none at home, just one very fluky victory and no division titles. The players know the job status of their head coach and if things begin to go awry early in the season, we could witness a team that quits, similar to what we saw over the past two Decembers. The flip side of the argument is that perhaps Del Rio can rally the troops and take an "us against the world" approach which could cause the team to give maximum effort from week to week.

2. Will the changes on the defensive line make a difference?

The Jaguars defensive line was simply unable to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks a year ago and it didn't matter what scheme or plays they called. The result was wholesale changes on the defensive line, spearheaded by the free agent signing of Aaron Kampman, and the dedication of the early part of the draft to that unit, as Tyson Alualu, D'Anthony Smith, Larry Hart and Austen Lane will be expected to make a difference. New defensive line coach Joe Cullen has been working with the guys all offseason and they need to apply pressure as the AFC South boasts three Pro Bowl quarterbacks.

1. Can David Garrard play like the exception, or will it be the rule?

The question over the past two seasons has been "What David Garrard will Jaguars fans see? The 2007 version, or the previous years?" All you have to do is peruse the stat sheet, much less watch the film to realize that the 2007 season has been the anomaly in Garrard's career. Although Garrard has physical skills that would make any quarterback guru drool, he makes rookie mistakes in the worst possible situations, something you simply can't have from a nine-year veteran who's north of 32 years old.

So if the Jaguars are going to qualify for the playoffs, David Garrard must simply play better, learn to go through his progressions and most importantly take responsibility when he doesn't play well. Far too many times since Garrard received his new contract he's been quick to throw his offensive line "under the bus" and blame his receivers for shortcomings. That doesn't play well in the locker room and a divided team will not win in this league with their suspect talent level.


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