For the second straight year, the Jaguars’ offseason has already provided more intrigue than the regular season.
Of course, the goal is that all of the changes — Dave Caldwell replaced Gene Smith as general manager and Gus Bradley took over for Mike Mularkey as head coach — are geared toward reversing this trend.
That is, of course, with the exception of announcing a new logo and brand identity, which, although we hear has been well received locally, is really more akin to trying to distract Jaguars fans from 2-14 and everything that accompanies it.
The Jaguars have actually revealed some football-related news this week as well, though.
Caldwell told PFW correspondent and the Florida Times-Union’s Vito Stellino that the roadmap for constructing the roster will travel mostly through the draft, and the club isn’t planning to target high-priced free agents. He said it will be “slow and steady.”
It’s hard to argue with this philosophy, as many of the league’s most successful franchises prefer using the draft as the main source of roster acquisition, but the Jaguars have enough needs that successfully utilizing free agency will also be critical.
The other big news this week — which has led to some head-scratching among our sources — is that new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch will install a zone-blocking scheme.
The Jaguars have long been a power-running team, with Maurice Jones-Drew one of the NFL’s most productive backs since joining the league. One source wondered if this move makes sense given Jones-Drew’s powerful running style, noting that Darren McFadden struggled to adapt to Greg Knapp’s system in 2012 — and Knapp was fired after just one season largely as a result.
The other side of the coin, however, is that Jones-Drew will be 28 by the time next season begins and entering the final year of his deal. With Caldwell and Bradley expected to have at least three years to put their stamp on the organization, this is likely a move with beyond 2013 in mind.
The Jaguars must rebuild virtually their entire offensive line, so this decision definitely impacts the type of players they will look to procure. As for the two entrenched starters of this group, OLT Eugene Monroe absolutely has the athleticism to thrive as a zone blocker, but ORG Uche Nwaneri is more of a road grader who could struggle to get proper fits on the second level, we hear.