By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
I am often amused at what reporters and columnists can and cannot say when it comes to the NFL, OTAs and the secrecy of what happens when the practices are closed to the public. While coaches are tight-lipped and “hush hush” about what happens with new schemes, new offenses and what the teams hope to accomplish before the start of the preseason, fans already know more than they should because social media has become the NFL and the sports world’s worst enemy.
There were twitter reports last week about Denard Robinson behind center, taking snaps with the Jaguars in OTAs. That may not have been what Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley wanted to get out into the world of everyone’s newest friend (Twitter) but it happened and while I agree with Times-Union Jaguars writer Ryan O’Halloran about what can be reported about in OTAs (nothing) and what cannot be said (everything).
The name of the game is winning in this league and it is a reporter’s job to report everything they can to give the fans and the reader or follower as much information as they can to not only sell copy, but to better their fan base.
I am just as guilty, using social media to get my work out into cyberspace, as this is the best way to communicate with you about what my thoughts are and what stories I am writing.
It’s a godsend and a curse at the same time.
While writers still need a good relationship with coaching staffs and their own bosses, there is a fine line each reporter takes. And with Adam Schefter using Twitter and Facebook every five minutes it seems to report on what he has seen and heard over the last few days, there are others who use the social media outlets to let us know Robinson is taking snaps and the former quarterback may be used in those pivotal plays.
It truly is a no-win situation.
Social media helps the NFL, doesn’t always help the franchise a reporter covers and again still draws in hundreds of reads, just to see if something has changed.
Twenty years ago, this was not a worry, and the Internet was something of an anomaly. There was more secrecy and not as level a playing field as it is now where any team can be awful one season and a Super Bowl champion the next. Social media has helped level the playing field in the NFL. It just so happens the equality of the outlet has come through the words of reporters as well as the things coaches teach their players and don’t necessarily want us to know beforehand.
By: Connor Perez (@connorperez)
Gus Bradley and David Caldwell believe they don’t have a quarterback controversy, rather, a “competition.”
“The one thing coach Bradley has preached is competitiveness” David Caldwell has said.
Who will win the starting position? I’m not convinced it is going to be Blaine Gabbert.
In fact, with Jordan Rodgers out injured following surgery for a sports hernia, Blaine Gabbert is likely happy about it as it means one less competitor to worry about.
Let’s get back to Blame Gabbert. Wait, is that nickname appropriate? Gabbert threw the ball a total of 278 times in 2012, while Chad Henne threw 308 passes. Only 30 more tosses for Henne, but he also threw for 422 yards more than Blaine Gabbert.
Blaine becomes Blame Gabbert for his play. Blame is the focal point of failure. Does Gabbert deserve all of the blame? With dynamic receivers, Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon, it’s easy to say “yes.” But, the Jaguars had a 29th ranked offensive line last year. With improvements in the draft, the line will to improve. No more excuses for Gabbert.
Gus Bradley introduces two great rookie backups, Matt Scott and Jordan Rodgers, acquired through free agency after the draft. Yes, these rookies have a great shot to win the starting job. I think Rodgers has the best shot. He threw for 2539 yards and 15 touchdowns, with a rating of 139 at Vanderbilt last season. Oh, and on a side note, an older brother named Aaron Rodgers to mentor his football game.
I believe Gus Bradley is pushing this quarterback situation, motivating Gabbert to either get that QBR up, or join him on the sidelines. By the way, I don’t think Henne is the answer. Jaguars fans paid enough for a short ride with Chad; and I don’t think a total quarterback rating (QBR) of 29.9 is starting caliber.
As much as Blame Gabbert rolls off the tongue, the Jaguars are betting he can be the starter if his feet are put to the fire. Gabbert is in the midst of a quarterback competition, and he is “looking forward to it” as he was quoted in ESPN. Jaguars fans, let’s hope so. A little competition never hurt anybody, right?
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
We have talked an awful lot about the need for another pass rusher in the Jaguars lineup. The team, who had the second pick in the draft, bypassed Dion Jordan and others to concentrate on taking Luke Joeckel as another cornerstone on the offensive line.
It was a solid move for the Jaguars, who did the same thing in 1995 when they selected Tony Boselli instead of Kevin Carter of Florida. Joeckel will be a menace on this line for the next decade if he stays in Jacksonville that long.
The defense did get help in the secondary with five draft picks, none of which will aid a pass rush that had only 20 sacks last season. The signing in the offseason of steady yet unspectacular defensive tackles Roy Miller and Sen’Derrick Marks and the addition of Brandon Deaderick on Tuesday means David Caldwell, Gus Bradley and defensive coordinator Bob Babich are happy with what talent is before them.
While Jason Babin was a nice pick up late in the 2012 season, the team was not impressed with the play of rookie Andre Branch, a defensive end out of Clemson who was the second round selection in 2012 and re-signed free agent Jeremy Mincey, who had two sacks last season after leading this team with eight sacks in each of the previous two years.
Yes, while we have not mentioned his name much, Mincey is still a member of the Jaguars after signing a huge, four-year contract last March and gave little return. Does the silence by the former Florida Gators star mean this is a year for redemption, or is he not as much a part of the Jaguars’ plans as he once was?
At 6’4” and 265 pounds, Mincey is still the fast “cat” off the line who can be a disruptive force for this team. He figures to compete with Branch, who was placed on IR at the end of last season, for the other starting end spot, opposite Babin. With Deaderick, if he makes the team, Austen Lane, and Paul Hazel, the end rotation could be a real eye-opener for this team, and a surprise for opponents who are not used to speed instead of overpowering strength.
This also fits into what Bradley’s plan was in Seattle and the reason the Seahawks defense was one of the best in the NFL and so dominant in the playoffs.
If Bradley can take a group of virtual no-names (add Tyson Alualu to this mix) and create havoc much like Mel Tucker had done two years ago, and this is a front line to worry about. Speed, intensity and desire are much better than being a big fish in a small pond. Bradley must preach that to this team to forge its success..
If Mincey can prove he is as good as 2011, then this is one more piece to a puzzle that is slowly taking shape. Mincey must be the piece that helps hold things together on the field and in the locker room. Should he do that, then this is a front line offenses can fear once more.
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
There were many ways I thought about writing this column regarding David Garrard and his sudden retirement from football.
I could have talked about the kid the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted in the fourth round out of East Carolina, who upon greeting the Jacksonville media, proclaimed he wanted to take Mark Brunell’s job.
I could have talked about the man who replaced Byron Leftwich in 2007 when the Jaguars were in a playoff race and was subsequently replaced by Leftwich when the team reached the playoffs..
I could have talked about how he replaced Leftwich as the starter permanently and played on adequate teams, where he never was asked to win football games, but to only manage them, and of course not lose them.
I could have talked about how a week or so before the 2010 NFL season, Leftwich was cut from the team because Jack Del Rio felt he could not win with him as the team’s quarterback. This led to the Blaine Gabbert era of the franchise and where the team is now.
There are so many ways to write this story, and the one I am most focused on is the man whom I have have something in common with. No, we are not both athletes, rather men with children and a love of family. But we also have Crohn’s Disease, which makes it difficult to play sports and live an active life. We both have loved ones who have battled cancer. David lost his mother to cancer, mine is still fighting it and winning.
It’s hard when all of the sudden, one of your heroes calls it a day. David is younger than I am and someone who is much stronger and hungrier than I; one who can live with a daily vigor I could only hope to have. David is the athlete I wanted to be, the hero to many and the reason I have fought for years to find peace with my disease. I have never gotten the chance to talk to him about it. But hopefully now, he will read this and see how I view him playing in the NFL was an inspiration.
Thank you, David.
It isn’t about yards thrown or touchdowns or wins. It’s about character and showmanship and a smile that we always saw. David will go down in the record books right now as the second best quarterback to ever wear teal and hopefully one day, that means he will be on the Ring of Honor at EverBank Field. We will never know the real reasons why he was cut back in 2010, but our team and our community lost a leader and a fighter.
Just about every team can “say” that about its own, but how many truly believe it when the words are read out loud?
The Jaguars can say that about No. 9. And when they say it, it is said with conviction. There may have been better players to put on a Jaguars’ jersey, more with records, but there are few who were as much a class act as her was.
All we can do now is say thanks for the memories, thanks for the spirit and thanks for the support you gave our community.
And thank you for inspiring this writer to do his job as well as you did yours.
By: Timothy White (@The_Motley_Jag)
Dear Jaguar Fans:
In light of the recent news, I am truly sorry for my actions off the field since becoming a Jaguar. As a number one pick, it is my responsibility to be on the field day in and out and never give anyone the perception that I am taking plays off. If it were not for the fans of each team, none of us players would have the opportunity to do what we love. And we love playing football. Not because of the riches that it bestows upon us, but because of the chance to compete against the very best in a sport that few people truly excel.
The decisions that I have made in the past few years are decisions that are made by a selfish individual who has put himself before the fans, organization, teammates and family. I do not know if I have an issue with alcohol, but I am going to do whatever it takes to overcome this, whether it is through the available NFL channels, or through other avenues to beat this. I owe it not only to myself, but to you as fans that pay large amount of your incomes to see me on the field. Once again, I am truly sorry that I have made the recent decisions, and I ask that you support me while I battle to overcome this.
Unfortunately, this is not what we heard at his press conference. I take issue with a person who does not take responsibility for his/her actions. As a fan, I have to wonder where the Jaguar Public Relations Department was regarding this statement/presser. Did they talk to him prior to the press conference about the questions that he would be facing? Did the prep him like an attorney would prior to going to trial? It doesn’t appear so.
I do not know if Justin has an issue or not. I am simply not qualified to speak to that. As a fan of the team, all I can hope for his that he gets the necessary help and support that is available, if it is needed. Justin, we as fans are counting on you to provide the leadership that a number one pick is supposed to bring to a team. Can we afford to do that? I hope so. Good luck Justin.