JACKSONVILLE – In 2018 offseason jaguars.com series featuring 11 former players talking about 11 current players, Pride of the Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith talks with senior writer John Oehser about the Jaguars’ ’17 success, the team’s current wide receivers and the team as it moves forward …
Question: As someone who played for the Jaguars in the 1990s and experienced the team’s past success, what did it mean for you to see them win the division last season and advance to the AFC Championship Game? It had been a long time …
A: It was exciting for me. It made me feel alive again, and I know what it did for the city. It made the city of Jacksonville really appreciate having an NFL franchise there again. It was tough during the years of not winning. It makes me feel great. I’m really happy for all of the guys. It was exciting to see them get so close to attaining that No. 1 goal – and that’s the Super Bowl.
Q: I imagine it meant something more to you see former Jaguars Head Coach and current Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin involved with it, too.
A: I knew when he got hired on [as EVP of Football Operations in January 2017] what he was going to do. I was talking to [former Jaguars running backs coach] Jerald Ingram last year. He said T.C. really regretted not getting the Super Bowl [with the Jaguars] in his first time around. We left a lot on the table. I know T.C. is determined and I know his No. 1 goal is to bring a Super Bowl and the Lombardi Trophy to Jacksonville. I don’t think he’ll stop until he gets it.
Q:Tell me about the wide receivers on this team. When you see them, what do you see?
A: I really like Marqise [Lee]. He’s a possession guy, and I think he reaped a lot of benefits last year because his coach (current Jaguars receivers coach, former Jaguars wide receiver and longtime Smith teammate Keenan McCardell) was a possession-type receiver. Keenan knows how to coach the position. He was the best at playing his position, so he’s the best at coaching those guys to play the position. It may be a little challenge. I envision [newly-signed wide receiver Donte] Moncrief being a big-play guy on the outside, taking the top off the defense. I think he’s fast enough and I watched him at Ole Miss stretch the defense pretty good; it’s just a matter of coaching him up and teaching him how to run that outside receiver position.
Q: You mentioned Keenan. It seemed you saw some of him in the receiver group last year …
A: A lot of the plays that were made, it was easy to see Keenan work. A lot of those plays were plays Keenan made when he was playing. The challenge is going to be coaching those outside guys and making them be as effective in order to help those inside guys.
Q: Your son, Trey Smith, will be a redshirt junior running back at Louisville in 2018. What is it like following his career and watching him develop?
A: It’s the best. He’s penciled in as the No. 1 or No. 2 guy, so I’m excited to be on that journey with him. I get so much excitement out of it.
Q:What are your thoughts on the Jaguars moving forward? Is this a team on the rise?
A: Most definitely. For them to get as far as it got in the playoffs with the offense not being a “power” offense was remarkable. There’s a solid running game, and that will continue, but to do it without always passing sometimes was impressive. Their formula is to have a great defense and a solid running game, but if you’re able to throw the ball and get some plays downfield, that’s the only part that’s missing – having those big-time playmakers get down the field.
Q:What were some of the highlights for you watching last season? You were part of some big postseason victories for this franchise, including obviously the AFC Divisional Playoff victory over the Denver Broncos following the 1996 season. I would think watching the Jaguars’ victories this past January over Buffalo in the Wild Card Playoff and Pittsburgh in the Divisional Playoff brought back some memories …
A: We beat Pittsburgh in ’95 and ’96; it seems like that’s a rite of passage when you beat a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers. No matter what kind of a season they’re having, when you can beat Pittsburgh you’re really doing something in the NFL. Regardless of what kind of season they’re having you’re going to make headlines when you beat the Steelers. It did bring back memories of beating Denver in ‘96. That’s still one of the greatest wins in franchise history. I enjoyed being a part of that.