Jaguars 101 continues its Confidence Rating series by discussing the Jacksonville Jaguars’ linebacker situation.
Question To Answer: How will the Jaguars react to an overhaul at the position?
Breakdown: Outside ‘backer Daryl Smith was the lone bright spot of the unit this past season. He logged 95 total tackles and led the NFL in defeats according to Football Outsiders. But there wasn’t much else good that came from the linebackers. The team traded for middle linebacker Kirk Morrison but he didn’t gel with the team and Justin Durant was hampered by injuries. Durant isn’t expected back and Morrison is a wild card. Depth at the position is also a concern.
This Group Will Be Fine If…Morrison bounces back and returns to his old form.
Worst Case Scenario: Jacksonville brings in two free agent linebackers to take over starting roles and neither one fits in.
Prediction: Durant is gone, no doubt. And there may not be enough time for the team to find a replacement Morrison, which isn’t a bad thing because he has potential to be an excellent fit with the Jaguars as long as he develops chemistry with the entire defense. Look for the Jaguars to bring in an outside linebacker with a proven track record and for the linebacker group to be much improved in 2011. Smith should be solid again in 2011.
My Confidence Rating: 5 – Things will be better (can’t get much worse) at linebacker but the reality is that the Jaguars are likely depending on one, if not two free agents to come in and solve their issues. So the question becomes, will the gamble pay off? Overhauling a position via free agency is always a risk that doesn't normally payoff.