The Jacksonville Jaguars have significantly improved their roster this offseason.
There’s no doubting that.
The team’s solid draft and stellar haul in free agency has gotten many fans excited for what could be a breakout 2011 season.
But is the team done with its rebuilding process and ready to truly contend for a spot in the playoffs?
Well that depends on who you ask.
Prior to the free agency period, Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union wrote a Jaguars’ season preview for the Sporting News. In it he talked about where the Jaguars were in terms of a rebuilding phase that started after the 2008 season when Gene Smith took over as the team’s general manager.
“The Jaguars are about halfway through a rebuilding process since Smith took over as GM,” Frenette wrote.
At the time, that statement seemed plausible because the Jaguars had an atrocious back seven that needed fixing (which Frenette alluded to) and a rookie quarterback in Blaine Gabbert that would need a few years of seasoning.
Now expectations are changing some. ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky wrote that the team has remained competitive the past two seasons since gutting the
“After another draft and an active free-agency period, they now feel the rebuild is complete,” Kuharsky wrote.
But not everyone sees the job as complete. Far from it.
Charlie Bernstein of Jagnation.com noted that the team could have easily been 4-12 last season and the Jaguars’ hesitation to make big moves on the offensive end in free agency signified that the team still was very much so in a rebuilding process.
“If you poured truth serum on Smith, he would likely tell you that the main purpose of 2011 is to get the younger players more development while figuring out who can play and who can't,” Bernstein wrote.
Every single author makes valid points. Yes, the Jaguars did sure up the back end of the defense this offseason and that should pay immediate dividends. But will that be enough for them to be legitimate playoff contenders?
As Bernstein contends, probably not. The team could surprise some people and even sneak into the post season if everything breaks right, but for now this is a team that is still relying on unproven youth at too many positions to really feel like this is a 10-win squad.
Maybe the rebuilding process is close to being over, but I don’t think you can definitively say the Jaguars are there just yet.Tags: Blaine Gabbert, Gene Smith, Jacksonville, Jacksonville Jaguars