- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
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Through April 20, "SportsCenter" will put every NFL team "On The Clock." Scouts Inc. will break down each team and look at what questions still need answering.
The Jaguars again played second fiddle to the Colts in the AFC South. They were wildly inconsistent and too often played to the level of their competition. The Jags had a very good running offense that excelled on first downs, which opened up a lot of options on second and third. Byron Leftwich has been named the starting quarterback for next season, but that didn't happen without some controversy. Even though he clearly gives Jacksonville the best chance to win, Leftwich has some flaws. The Jaguars are solid on special teams, found a gem in RB Maurice Jones-Drew and have a chance to be simply exceptional on defense. A record of 8-8 will not do this season.
Jacksonville was not really busy in free agency, but it was quick to get the Ravens' Tony Pashos signed. Pashos will be the Jaguars' starting right tackle. This signing allows Maurice Williams to slide to the left side to compete with Khalif Barnes and helps the overall depth. Pashos is a tough guy who will add more nastiness. He is better in the run game than protecting the edge, but continues to improve. Jacksonville also signed Dennis Northcutt. Northcutt could help this team because he is a proven slot receiver with a skill set that its other pass catchers lack. He is far from a great player, but is a good fit with this offense. He also should contribute as a punt returner. The Jags also re-signed place-kicker Josh Scobee, who is adequate at what he does. Jacksonville hired Dirk Koetter as offensive coordinator to fix the passing game.
The Jaguars lost starting FS Deon Grant to Seattle and he will need to be replaced. Grant is solid and intelligent. He isn't outstanding in any one area, but his loss will be felt at a position that was already thin. Gerald Sensabaugh is now in line for the job, but was also arrested last month and is facing misdemeanor charges of speeding and carrying a firearm without a permit. Longtime Jaguar Kyle Brady was signed by New England. Brady is an excellent blocking tight end whose presence will be missed substantially in the running game. He also did a fine job of helping Jacksonville's offensive tackles on throwing downs and provided a short outlet option. The Jaguars used their first-round pick on Marcedes Lewis last year and signed Jermaine Wiggins recently. The tight end position is now in his talented hands.
If their passing game can take a step forward, the Jaguars have a chance to be a very good team. Another question remains: Can they be consistent throughout an entire season? Getting starting MLB Mike Peterson, SS Donovin Darius and DE Reggie Hayward back from injury could make this one of the top defenses in the league. Hayward has to prove he is the same player after returning from a torn Achilles tendon. The Jaguars do not have a whole lot of needs, but do have a pressing one at safety. Grant has moved on to Seattle and Darius has been very injury prone over the past two seasons. Although one probably will not be available, Jacksonville's offense could really use a true No. 1 wide receiver who can change a game and strikes fear in an opponent. The Jaguars also could use a nickel cornerback, defensive tackle depth, maybe a defensive end if the right guy falls in their lap and possibly a developmental quarterback, although they really don't have room on their roster for another signal-caller. In terms of handling personnel, Jacksonville does a great job and rarely gets the credit it truly deserves.
5hEric D. Williams
1dSharon Katz & Hank Gargiulo