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Commentary: Jaguars Don’t Look Like a Super Bowl Team Yet

Let me preface this by saying that the bar has been set much higher for the Jaguars this year. Being in the mix for a playoff spot isn’t enough. This off-season, championship expectations developed and so it is against that backdrop that I say this.

The Jaguars don’t strike me as a championship team.

Here’s why:

The three main areas that needed improvement from last season haven’t improved. Pass rush, pass protection and pass catching.

The pass rush is without first round pick Derrick Harvey and since flashing in the preseason opener, second round pick Quentin Groves has not looked good. I’m worried about how long Reggie Hayward’s legs will hold up. And if the Jaguars have to rely on the blitz to pressure the quarterback, I don’t like their chances against veteran quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

David Garrard has been hurried and hit too often in the preseason, with the pressure coming from his blind side more often than not. That points to Khalif Barnes and Richard Collier, who began Training Camp competing for the starting spot, but who both are ending the pre-season needing to play better.

As for the pass catching, the Jaguars signed Jerry Porter, traded for Troy Williamson, got Mike Walker back off the Injured Reserve list and added them to the list of Reggie Williams, Matt Jones and Dennis Northcutt. Porter won’t likely play until the second week of the regular season, Williams just got back from injury, Williamson has been fighting an injury of his own, but hasn’t looked very impressive since putting the pads on. Matt Jones has shown flashes and his effort has been better. Northcutt is still the same guy and Walker has shown promise, but has to catch the ball better. Does the wide receiver corps instill confidence in me right now? Not really.

That all being said, the Jaguars did improve their secondary with Drayton Florence moving in at cornerback and Brian Williams moving to safety. Plus we all expect Rashean Mathis to have a better season this year and Reggie Nelson is no longer a rookie.

And you would have to say that the linebackers are a better group with Mike Peterson and Clint Ingram healthy and Justin Durant a year older.

Can the Jaguars, in their current incarnation, be a playoff team? Yes. They still have Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew and David Garrard, plus a defense that I believe will stop the run. That being said, as of right now, they don’t look like they’re ready to beat the Colts or Patriots and win the AFC.

On the other hand, if you are one of those pie-eyed optimists, you can hope that Porter returns and makes a big impact, Matt Jones has the season of his life, Mike Walker’s ability turns into productivity, Derrick Harvey signs and is a star and Khalif Barnes just gets it. If those things happen, I’ll buy into the Jaguars as a title contender.

Stay tuned.

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