Can SLB Daryl Smith, yet to play in 2012 because of a groin injury, really be the reason for the Jacksonville “D” plummeting from No. 6 overall at the end of last season to No. 29 in the NFL entering Week Seven?
According to our sources, the absence of Smith has definitely had an impact. It's been particularly noticeable in the lack of pressure the Jaguars have generated (league-worst three sacks in five games), but it is beginning to look more and more like last season’s impressive finish was more a case of smoke and mirrors.
Jacksonville’s defense was good on paper — and it withstood a barrage of injuries — yet there were plenty of cases when it faltered just enough to cost the Jaguars.
As for Smith, one of the league’s more underrated ‘backers, the timing of his injury is incredibly unfortunate — not only because the linebacking corps has underwhelmed in his absence, with replacement Kyle Bosworth taking a number of bad angles in pursuit and not providing the type of blitzing prowess Smith brings to the table — but because Smith is in a contract year.
Smith, 30, has been durable throughout his nine-year career, starting 16 games five times, but this was supposed to be an opportunity for him to strut his stuff and finally earn the credit he has so long deserved.
With so much money tied up in the linebacking corps — and the future of Clint Session, who hasn’t been played since last year because of concussion symptoms, murky at best — it remains to be seen what type of offer Smith might garner from the club, assuming he can get back on the field and begin contributing in a hurry.