Rebuilding Jaguars avoid talk about winning
No doubt, the Jacksonville Jaguars want to win.
They just don’t want to focus on it, talk about it or really
even think about it.
So you won’t hear general manager Dave Caldwell, coach Gus
Bradley or many of their players mention that ultimate goal.
Instead, the main theme in Jacksonville is getting better. It’s the
team motto these days, a catch phrase that Bradley brought with him
from Seattle and one he hopes will narrow each player’s focus
during what could be a lengthy rebuild.
”I really believe in the process,” Bradley said. ”I think
when you look ahead, you forget about enjoying the process. We want
to compete, have our guys go hard, get better at fundamentals and
techniques, but also enjoy it. And when you look ahead, sometimes
you miss those things.
”If we can get a guy to get to his highest level, then we win.
That’s how we define winning, that’s how we talk about
The Jaguars are coming off the worst season in franchise
history, a 2-14 debacle that got general manager Gene Smith and
coach Mike Mularkey fired and started the franchise’s third
overhaul in the last five seasons.
This one is going to be a complete renovation.
And it might not yield immediate improvement on the field or in
the standings, something Bradley can handle – at least for now.
”His mindset is for everybody to go out there and give what
they have and live with the results,” tight end Marcedes Lewis
said. ”He’s instilled in us that we don’t have to worry about
expectations; that kind of thing will just take care of itself. I
think that creates an environment which allows us to be able to
just go out there and give it all we’ve got, and live with the
results. And if it’s good enough, it’s good enough.”
With winning off the Jaguars’ radar, here are five things to
watch in 2013:
GABBERT’S LAST GO: The biggest thing Jacksonville needs to get
out of this season is clarity at quarterback. Bradley named Gabbert
the starter, picking him over Chad Henne and giving the former
first-round draft pick a chance to prove he can be a franchise QB.
If Gabbert shows significant progress, then the Jaguars could be
set under center for years. If not, there’s little doubt Caldwell
and Bradley will move on and draft their guy in 2014. Caldwell and
Bradley believe Gabbert played in less-than-ideal circumstances his
first two years and will benefit from drafting right tackle Luke
Joeckel with the second overall pick, getting running Maurice
Jones-Drew back from a foot injury and having more experienced
receivers in Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon.
MJD HEALTHY, HUNGRY: Jones-Drew is trying to make a comeback and
earn another contract. The NFL’s leading rusher in 2011 sustained a
Lisfranc injury to his left foot last October and missed the final
10 games of the season. He had surgery in December, which delayed
his rehab and his return. He was cleared to practice just days
before training camp and has shown no ill effects from the injury.
Jones-Drew is eager to prove he can return to form, even in a new
offense that features a zone blocking scheme. If the 28-year-old
back stays healthy, he could land another lucrative contract in
Jacksonville or elsewhere.
DEFENSIVE DOUBTS: The Jaguars might be punchless at the point of
attack – again. Bradley’s retooled defense features press coverage
designed to disrupt timing and routes, but it’s unlikely to find
much success if the unit doesn’t generate pressure on opposing
quarterbacks. Jacksonville has been the least-disruptive defense
the last five seasons, averaging a paltry 24 sacks. Although free
agents Roy Miller and Sen’Derrick Marks and veteran Jason Babin
(claimed off waivers last November) are upgrades, the Jags have yet
to show they can apply the kind of consistent pressure needed in a
SHORTS SHOWS UP: Shorts has been the team’s best receiver
throughout the offseason and in training camp. The Jaguars would
love to see it continue into the regular season. With Blackmon
suspended the first four games for violating the league’s
substance-abuse policy, Shorts will be asked to carry the load
early, a role he welcomes. Shorts caught 55 passes for 979 yards
and seven touchdowns last season – 47 receptions for 784 yards and
five scores over his final nine games – and showed glimpses of
being a go-to guy.
FRANCHISE’S FUTURE: Despite continued speculation the Jaguars
will move to Los Angeles or London, billionaire owner Shad Khan has
made it clear he has no plans to relocate the small-market
franchise. Not only has he already spent about $10 million in
facility upgrades, he’s committed millions more in local business
ventures and is helping commission a $60 million scoreboard that
will be the largest in the NFL. As for those four home games in
London, which begin this season, they’re part of Khan’s plan to
increase the team’s international profile and reach an untapped
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