AFC South: Soldier Field
Last week I posed this question: What one philosophical tendency, trend, tenet or practice would you like to see the Jaguars change, and why?
As opposed to some previous questions you've encountered here, I wasn't looking to reach any sort of consensus, just to stir some debate. Based on your responses, I think we got that.
So here's the best of what you had to say with some of my thoughts interspersed. Thanks for all the quality responses.
Steve in Jacksonville: The Jaguars need to have a tough competitive camp. For the past two years, Jack has been a little soft on the players. The team paid the price losing in both instances to the Titans. Two years ago, they managed to bounce back and get a little hot at the end of the season. I'd rather see blood, sweat, and tears to get everyone battle ready!
Paul Kuharsky: I really think Jack Del Rio is reassessing everything based on last year's failures. While his camp philosophy has been to keep it somewhat light, I wouldn't be surprised if he turns it up as he looks to help his team re-establish its physical identity.
Keith in Jacksonville: Simple: Get Greg Jones back in good health so he can go back to the caliber football he played at Florida State....you only need type his name into youtube to see what I'm talking about. Much love to Mojo and a bittersweet good riddens to the Gator, but now let's give the football to the big double 3 and get the Jags run game back to what it used to be.
Paul Kuharsky: I don't know that Jones at his best is going to fix what ails the Jaguars or qualifies as a change in philosophy, but I appreciate your enthusiasm.
Tom in Jacksonville: Magic Wand comment: I would like to see the Jaguars solve the "Houston problem". Even in the years when Jacksonville fields a good team and the Texans do not, they either split or get swept. It just seems the Texans have their number.
Paul Kuharsky: There is no philosophical tenet that's led to Jacksonville's struggles with Houston, I don't think. Nevertheless, this is a big issue they need to figure out. The Jaguars are 6-8 all-time against Houston, have swept the season series only once (2005), have been swept twice and have split four times including last season. The Colts and Titans, meanwhile, have records of 13-1 and 11-3, respectively, against the Texans.
The problem from a Jacksonville angle is this: The Texans are moving from division pushover territory to Serious Threatland.
Will in Jacksonville: That's easy. The Jags need to change there Scouting Department. Both Pro and College. Lets look at the evidence, R J Soward, Reggie Williams, Byron Leftwich, etc... Bryce Paup, Hugh Douglas, Jerry Porter, etc... Every team misses but can you think of a team that misses more outside of Detroit than Jacksonville?
Paul Kuharsky: First-round failures and free-agent busts have been issues, of course. The Jaguars have sworn off big free-agent shopping, so that side of things should be less of an issue.
And new GM Gene Smith is now calling the shots, which should provide some hope that the draft strategy and analysis changes in ways that will improve the hit rate at the top. But we'll have to wait and see.
JvilleJag2 in Jacksonville: Well since we're talking about the Jaguars and Jack Del Rio is head coach of the Jags I'll say I wish he would hold onto his assistant coaches. I don't think any other head coach since Del Rio's been hired has fired more assistants. I understand some positions are going to underachieve but that doesn't mean the coach has to be canned. I think it's a blemish on Del Rio's record and has damaged the chances the Jaguars organization could have to hire first rate coaches. I also believe Del Rio has let his attitude cloud his judgment on coaches that he's given the pink slip to.Nelson in Jacksonville: If I could change a tenet of the jaguars, It'd be the over all coaching staff. There are too many head coaches on one team, It won't be as bad this season with Greg Williams gone, but seeing as how last year Jack Del Rio, Mike Shula, and Greg Williams, all of which are head coaches(Greg Williams' goal is trying to be a head coach), so no true decisions are the whim of Jack Del Rio, he has so many other people to look to before he's able to make an executive decision. I only wish he could do whatever he want with his team.
Paul Kuharsky: Staff stability is definitely an issue. The idea that Del Rio can't make a decision because of who his assistants are, however, is a misguided one. Who do you think hired those assistants? He did.
There is a perception that he relies on his inner circle, which includes running backs coach Kennedy Pola and assistant head coach/tight ends Mike Tice, disproportionately. If the Jaguars don't look like they're on the upswing this year, Del Rio's job security could fall into question. Because of that I think he will be more hands-on with the defense and with new coordinator Mel Tucker.
Brian in Jacksonville: Jags tenet...tough one Paul. Considering the lack of talent across the board there are many tenets I'd like to see changed but after application we might find the change didn't offer any real improvement. Not be run first? You need receivers. Blitz more? You need a better front 4 and faster LBs, along with DBs you can trust. I love that Jack gambles on 4th down. I guess I'd like to see Garrard get the TE more involved. I know Lewis had his drops last year but in watching the games (I attended all home games and 1 away), ML is open a vast majority of the time and David simply isn't getting him the ball. If you take a TE in the first round you'd better make him more integral. I would imagine, however, that faster receivers who run better routes would open the field some. Still, the opportunity is there.
Paul Kuharsky: I too have struggled to understand why they haven't found ways to use Marcedes Lewis more consistently and more effectively.
Charles in Jax: With regards to your Jags magic wand question: I wish the Jags could change the size of their stadium. Jags fans and the team get a bad rap for not supporting the team and having its share of blackouts (none in 2008 though), but people tend to forget its the league's smallest market in population terms (giving GB Milwaukee) yet it has one of the largest stadiums. It was built this way to accomodate the annual FL/GA game, Gator Bowl, and the one time Super Bowl, but its way too big for the market. Shrink it by 10,000 seats and you'd have year-round sellouts and perhaps a waiting list.
Paul Kuharsky: I wrote about this in my early days on this job.
Jacksonville did a good job supporting the Jaguars in 2008 despite a disappointing season. Anyone who gives the
team and city grief for having to cover some seats to downsize probably isn't aware that Jacksonville Municipal Stadium still seats 5,664 more than Soldier Field.
Have marketing, sales and support always been what you'd hope? No. But should we really expect an expansion team in a small city to average better crowds than a team with the history and population of Chicago?
It's not about running back Matt Forte' breaking tackles or Rashied David pulling in a third-down reception.
It's the low sideline angle of game film from Soldier Field.
"It sucks, we always notice that when we play them guys," Haynesworth said. "It's horrible I don't know why they do that. You can always tell when you are watching Chicago film from that sideline angle. It sucks. They're definitely the only one. It's just odd once you've seen normal sideline angles and then you see theirs. It's completely different than anybody else's."
"They have the worst sideline view in the history of the NFL," said Bulluck, probably going a little too far back with his timeframe. "It's kind of tough. Normally you have an above view so you can see the formations, you can kind of see the splits of the linemen, you can see a lot of different things. With the tape when you play the Bears and get it from them -- it's not like they do it on purpose, everybody gets the same tape -- but it's definitely hard to differentiate linemen splits, splits of the wide receivers, things that are really key to studying an offense."
The Bears said it's a matter of the location of the camera bay in new Soldier Field, which opened in 2003.
Coaches and players have access to shots of each play of every game from two standard angles -- the central sideline and the end zone. A member of each team's video department shoots the game from each spot.
Titans left tackle Michael Roos said the Bears' low sideline angle is not much of an issue for offensive linemen as they rely more on the end zone look.
But receiver Brandon Jones said it adds a different wrinkle to preparations.
"It looks like a high school game almost," he said. "It's weird. Nobody else does it like them that I have seen. But you're going to get the information because you're going to study, study, study. You're going to see how their defensive backs play, how their defense plays, what they play. Your coaches are going to help you out too. We'll be able to figure it out."