Simply stated, it has been a busy offseason for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
With big-time free agent signings, the drafting of an expected franchise quarterback (Blaine Gabbert) and re-signing one of their best players (tight end Marcedes Lewis,) the Jaguars have made some moves to significantly upgrade their roster.
How will these transactions help? Jaguars 101 brings in some of the top authorities on Jacksonville Jaguars football to weigh in on the team’s offseason in the first addition of Jaguars 101 Roundtable Discussion.
Charlie Bernstein of Jag Nation and Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country were both kind enough to offer their insights into the Jacksonville Jaguars.
1.)How would you describe the Jaguars’ work on the free agent trail?
Charlie Bernstein: It's impossible that a team which finished in the bottom five in defense a season ago can address all of its needs in one free agency period, but the Jaguars came pretty close. The (Clint) Session and (Paul) Posluszny signings were certain upgrades and Dawan Landry should improve the secondary. The Jaguars are still shy a free safety and there are still questions at defensive end, but the team spent their funds pretty well considering the market and what was out there.
Alfie Crow: The Jaguars made the simple upgrades they needed as a whole at linebacker and safety.
Brendan Sonnone: The Jaguars targeted their biggest needs and brought in good value without overspending. There are still some holes, but this free agent haul was a big step forward. A wide receiver and another safety would have been nice though.
2.) Which free agent acquisition was the best pickup for the Jaguars?
CB: I love the free agent signing of former Colts linebacker Clint Session. Session may have been the Colts best defensive player in 2009 and he adds suddenness and big play ability on a defense which has been lacking that for nearly a decade. The biggest factor may just be the addition by subtraction as Indianapolis has not fully addressed his loss despite signing Ernie Sims, an inferior player.
AC: I think Clint Session will wind up being the best free agent pick up. While some question if he was worth the contract he got, in 2009 prior to his injury in 2010 he played at a Pro-Bowl level. Session brings explosion off the edge at the linebacker position the Jaguars haven't had in a long, long time. He also brings that attitude defensively you want that the team has missed since the departure of Mike Peterson.
BS: It’s a tossup between Session and Posluszny for me, but ultimately Session appears to be the bigger playmaker of the two.
3.) What is the worst move Jacksonville has made so far this offseason?
Tags: Blaine Gabbert, Clint Session, David Garrard, Jacksonville, Jacksonville Jaguars, Paul Posluszny
CB: The worst move the team has made thus far may actually be fictional. Not putting quarterback David Garrard on the trading block (assuming they didn't) may or may not hurt the Jaguars. Garrard is clearly not a part of the team’s long term plans and any compensation the team could've received for him would be helpful. It's doubtful that they could've received much, and perhaps they did try to move him, but removing Garrard from the roster avoids any backlash from the fan base when the move to Gabbert occurs.
As far as a move that the team made, Paul Posluszny is a certain upgrade at linebacker but he's not an impact player and I feel that they overpaid for him.
AC: The worst move the Jaguars made this offseason was not addressing the wide receiver position, but the team was kind of hamstrung in that regard. Outside of Sidney Rice and Santonio Holmes, there wasn't much out there in terms of an upgrade. The receiver the team let walk, Mike Sims-Walker, was about on par with much of what was available. That move however, could bite them.
BS: Leaving the group of receivers stay as is was a big mistake in my opinion. Adding a veteran like Derrick Mason or T.J. Houshmandzadeh would really have helped the team’s young wide outs learn from guys who have been successful for years at the pro level. Now the Jaguars are hoping that unproven players will get job the done. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. The point is the Jags are taking a big gamble by standing pat.
4.) Which undrafted rookie free agent do you think has the best chance
to make the team?
CB: There are a few undrafted rookies that have legitimate opportunities to make the 53-man roster. Defensive end Marc Schiechl, defensive tackle Odrick Rey, wide receiver Armon Binns and linebacker Scott Lutrus are all players to watch. Based on a lack of depth at the position, Marc Schiechl may have the best chance as he has quick feet and good power. If the Jaguars place Schiechl on the practice squad, there's an excellent chance he'll be claimed by another club.
AC: I think Armon Binns, the wide receiver out of Cincinnati has the best shot of the UDFA's to make the roster. Binns has looked very good in camp, but has been sidelined by a soft tissue injury. He's excelled at catching the ball in the corner of the endzone, using his size and leaping ability to catch the ball over defensive backs. Outside of Marcedes Lewis, the Jaguars don't have a receiver over 6-feet tall, and I don't count Kassim Osgood.
BS: Marc Schiechl at defensive end and Binns are two guys that have a shot because the Jaguars need help at both positions. I’m a little biased but UCF grad Jamar Newsome is a favorite of mine. Fast, powerful and explosive, he has the ability to at least make the practice squad.
5.) Who has been the biggest surprise so far in camp? The biggest disappointment?
CB: The biggest surprise in camp thus far for me has been rookie wide receiver Cecil Shorts, with an honorable mention to second-year defensive end Aaron Morgan. Shorts has caught everything thrown in his direction and runs routes like a pro. He's polished for a player that is from Division III.
As for a player who has been disappointing, quarterback David Garrard has thrown more interceptions than most people can count, and looks like the same unsure poor decision maker who has led this team to late season collapses over the past three seasons. With Garrard's job seemingly on the line for the first time since 2007, he's playing like a player who doesn't want it. A big honorable mention goes to right tackle Eben Britton, who has been shaky at best.
AC: The biggest surprise in camp so far has been rookie Blaine Gabbert. Just how poised he's been. He doesn't look like what you would expect a rookie quarterback with no offseason to look like, he's right on David Garrard's heels and often outplaying him. The biggest disappointment has to be the shape in which defensive tackle Terrance Knighton came into camp. It's been over a week and he's still not at the weight the team wants him to be at.
BS: Gabbert has blown me away. All reports on him have been stellar. Admittedly, I thought he was going to be pretty raw coming into camp and would take a year of seasoning, but he’s been impressive in all aspects of the game so far.
Conversely, the biggest disappointment is Garrard. I didn’t think he was going to set the world on fire, but he didn’t arrive the first day when doors opened to make a good impression and has missed time with a back injury. Obviously he doesn’t want to be hurt, but you’d think someone who is fighting for their job would be kicking and screaming to get on the field. Garrard’s lethargy has turned a lot of people off.
Well gentlemen, thanks for taking the time to talk Jaguars with me. Awesome insight and we’ll plan on doing this again later on in the preseason.