One of the favorite questions being asked of players and coaches as the days of this season fade away is: What do the Jaguars need to do in the offseason to become a playoff contender in 2009?
All right, I'll bite. Here's what I think they need to do.
Number one, they must find a left tackle. That is absolutely the team's top priority. Nothing can improve on offense if the team doesn't acquire a left tackle for their long-term future. It must and it can be done because next spring's draft is expected to include several franchise left tackles and the Jaguars will be perfectly positioned to pick one of the top two or three.
The number two thing this team has to do is find the same kind of big-guy cornerstone for its defense. They need to acquire a physical, run-stuffing, play-disrupting defensive tackle. Can it be done? Yeah, but it'll be more difficult because the defensive tackle supply in next spring's draft isn't expected to be as deep as the offensive tackle crop.
Speed is needed on both sides of the ball. Frankly, this team got slow and the recent game against Houston underscored that fact. The Jaguars need an influx of speed at linebacker and in their defensive backfield, and the need for speed at wide receiver is even greater.
A young, developmental quarterback is a priority. David Garrard is being criticized for everything from not seeing the field to his selection of hats, but what nobody seems to appreciate is his durability. Try playing without him. That's why this team needs a young lion at quarterback who can push Garrard and offer the team long-term security at the position.
Overall depth and competition must be improved. The Jaguars may have been guilty of overrating their roster last spring when they traded away several picks they probably wish they had now.
A new attitude must be acquired. The team needs to re-commit to everything, from scheme to theme, and those who don't buy into the program must be removed, lest the chemistry spoil again next season.
The need to get healthy and stay healthy should go without saying. The Jaguars need Vince Manuwai, Mo Williams, Fred Taylor, Greg Jones, Rashean Mathis, etc. back and committed to being in the best physical condition of their careers for the start of the 2009 training camp.
All of this is likely to be preceded by the usual end-of-the-season changes that occur on every coaching staff in every front office around the league, and how the Jaguars re-structure themselves is of critical importance. Every team needs a plan that can succeed or its efforts will be doomed to fail.
Now, here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Packers.
- Stop the pass—Good luck. The Packers can wing it.
- Run the ball—The Packers are 27th in the league against the run and getting worse.
- Show us what you have—Young players are expected to get some playing time.
- Play with pride—This is another chance to get a home win.
- Get an early lead—It's certainly worked for the opposition.
- Rush the passer—Rookie Derrick Harvey showed up last Sunday. It would give us hope for the future if he did that again.
- Throw it to MoJo—He's the man in the passing game.
- Allow no excuses—Protect David Garrard and get open for him. Then it's up to him.
- Look around the stadium—Is this how you want it? Winning changes it.
- Protect this house—I ran out of things.