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Looking back and looking ahead


JACKSONVILLE – Today, we take a look at aspects of the Jaguars' 2012 season you may have overlooked.

Here's what's notable about that first line:

Substitute "2011" for "2012" and it's the same lead sentence of a story that ran on January 9, 2012, the day before the Jaguars hired Mike Mularkey as head coach.

We wrote that story last year because we were waiting for Jaguars Owner Shad Khan to hire Mularkey, and we write this one now – less than a year later – because we're waiting again for a move that will determine franchise direction and philosophy.

This time, the decision is as important as last, if not more so.

This time, Khan is seeking a general manager, having parted ways with Gene Smith on Monday following a 2-14 season, the worst in franchise history.

Reports are Khan is deep into the search. He reportedly interviewed Atlanta Falcons Director of Player Personnel David Caldwell Monday and San Francisco 49ers Director of Player Personnel Tom Gamble Tuesday. The Jaguars also will reportedly interview Arizona Cardinals Vice President of Player Personnel Steve Keim for the position.

Khan also reportedly met with Caldwell a second time on Wednesday.

Whoever Khan hires as general manager, the franchise will take on a new direction. Smith selected most of the players on the roster, and the ones he didn't, he made the decision to retain. A new general manager will mean new philosophies, and a new approach to personnel.

What will those approaches be?

That process will begin in a big way immediately upon the general manager's hiring.

Mularkey said he and Khan did not discuss Mularkey's job status when they met Monday, and Mularkey said he's the coach until told otherwise, but general managers often are hired with the authority to select their own coach.

Khan has not discussed that situation publicly.

So, for now, we wait and speculate. As we do, we'll spend the coming days taking a look back at the 2012 season, and try to take a look forward to 2013. Of course, these plans blow up immediately when Khan picks a general manager who will shape the franchise for the foreseeable future.

For now, here are some things about the 2012 season that maybe you overlooked:

  • If you think there is something familiar about Wild Card Weekend, there is. Five of the eight teams playing this weekend – Green Bay, Minnesota, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Houston – were on the Jaguars' schedule this season, with a sixth – Baltimore – on the preseason schedule.  The Jaguars lost to Minnesota (26-23, OT), Houston (27-7 and 43-27, OT), Indianapolis (27-10), Cincinnati (27-10) and Green Bay (24-15) and also beat Indianapolis (22-17).
  • Overall this season, eight of the Jaguars' games came against playoff teams. Not only did they play the above-mentioned seven games against postseason teams, they also lost to the New England Patriots, 23-16, in late December.
  • We also spend some time today looking forward, breaking down the 2013 opponents. The dates and times will be announced later this spring, but the Jaguars play the following teams at home next season: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers (in London). They play the following teams on the road: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks. The schedule is not nearly as quarterback-heavy as 2012, with Colts rookie Andrew Luck probably the biggest-name quarterback scheduled to play in Jacksonville. The away schedule features a road game at Denver, the first time the Jaguars will play against Peyton Manning since he left Indianapolis.
  • The 2013 schedule includes five 2012 playoff teams – Houston (12-4), Indianapolis (11-5), San Francisco (11-4-1), Denver (13-3) and Seattle (11-5).
  • Tight end Marcedes Lewis, after a difficult season in 2011, put up numbers a little more comparable to his 2010 Pro Bowl campaign this season, finishing with 52 receptions for 540 yards and four touchdowns. He caught 58 passes for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns in his Pro Bowl season and made 39 receptions for 460 yards and no touchdowns last season.
  • Cecil Shorts, despite starting just nine games, turned in the best season for a Jaguars receiver since 2005, catching 55 passes for 979 yards and seven touchdowns, a 17.8-yards-per-catch average. Shorts didn't move into the starting lineup until Week 6, then missed two games after that with a concussion. He fell 21 yards short of becoming the first Jaguars player since Jimmy Smith in 2005 to have 1,000 receiving yards in a season.
  • Justin Blackmon, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, overcame a slow start to set rookie franchise records for receptions (64), receiving yards (865) and average per reception (13.5 yards).  He caught 39 passes for 615 yards and four touchdowns in the last seven games of the season.
  • Punter Bryan Anger finished his rookie season with NFL rookie records for gross average (47.8 yards) and net average (40.8). He also set single-season franchise records for gross average, net average and most punts (91).
  • Defensive tackle Tyson Alualu started all 16 games for the Jaguars, the third time in as many NFL seasons he has done so. Six other players – linebacker Russell Allen, safety Dawan Landry, defensive end Jeremy Mincey, middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, center Brad Meester and left tackle Eugene Monroe –also started all 16 games this season.
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