The Jacksonville Jaguars’ Youth Movement
All in all, for me, I felt it was a very successful year. Although I would probably say that, regardless of what happened in 2009, just to sound cool or normal.
If those involved in the Jacksonville Jaguars organization look back at 2009, I’m sure they would call it a successful year.
And, I would be hard-fought to disagree with them.
This year’s Jaguar team has a different feel than the 2008 squad. There was so much hype behind the 2008 team that everyone was blinded to one fact: most of the players were old.
Playoff talk for 2008 began almost as soon as the 2007 Jaguars were picked apart by Tom Brady’s near-perfect day in a New England Patriots’ 31-20 victory.
We all should have seen the holes and old age that riddled the 2008 Jacksonville Jaguars. But, we refused to clean the old bifocals.
When I think of the 2009 team, I compare it to the experience of when one gets a much-needed haircut. One feels stylish and rebranded.
It’s time to flaunt that new haircut and get noticed by all. But even with a new do, national media outlets refuse to compliment the Jaguars.
This season has brought the Jags a 7-6 record and actual playoff talk just when it matters most. The young team is being rebuilt and molded by first-year general manager Gene Smith.
The wide receiving corps is finally respectable after years of pity from around the league. Receivers Matt Jones, Dennis Northcutt, Jerry Porter and Reggie Williams were not welcomed back. (Allow moment for fist pumps and hollering.)
Veteran and future Hall of Famer Torry Holt, brought in by Smith, has made a group that features Mike Sims-Walker and rookie Mike Thomas credible.
Along the offensive line, rookie tackles Eben Britton and Eugene Monroe have combined for 22 starts. The high draft picks look promising for the future. In my opinion, the two are working any kinks out now before they emerge over the next few years as tops at their positions.
Knowing that the Jaguars organization intended to recruit and mold a younger team, former Jaguar tackles Khalif Barnes and Tony Pashos had to head elsewhere for employment. Youth will always win out in the long run.
Additionally, with the departure of Fred Taylor, running back Maurice Jones-Drew locked up a solid four-year contract and the starting gig. It’s a place Jones-Drew has thrived in while obtaining his first 1,000-yard rushing season and tying Taylor’s single-season team record with 14 rushing touchdowns.
Likeable Jaguar long snapper Joe Zelenka joined Freddie T by not returning to Jacksonville for the 2009 season.
The closet wasn’t completely cleaned out yet. The exits of defensive players such as Drayton Florence, Mike Peterson, Gerald Sensabough, Paul Spicer and Brian Williams left spots open for cheaper and/or less experienced players.
The youth movement has given me and other Jaguar fans a look at one of the team’s most impressive seasons.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and their fans will remember the 2009 season as one of hope brought about by key changes to the roster.
This season has laid the foundation for an organization that has an opportunity to do something special in the next two or three seasons. (Non-Jacksonville citizens can feel free to mention the “forever-potential” move to Los Angeles. Better now?)
This organization is headed in a strong direction, which only the players can disrupt.
Although, I’m reminded of the famous Pablo Picasso quote – “It takes a long time to become young.”
Not as long as you would think, Pablo.
Richard Miller is a national broadcaster for Jacksonville Jaguars’ home games on Sporting News Radio. Additionally, he can be heard on ABC 1320 WBOB in Jacksonville at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesdays with The Jacksonville Observer Radio Show.
Richard contributes to Inside the Game with Robin Valetutto every Saturday from 12-2 p.m.
Currently, Richard is writing David Lamm’s biography entitled Lamm at Large: The David Lamm Story, which will be available in 2010.
You can e-mail Richard at Richard.Miller@jaxobserver.com