Jacksonville Jaguars: Matt Cassel

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The class of free-agent linebackers in the NFL isn't very impressive and that's why the Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran writes that the Jacksonville Jaguars are expected to address that position in the draft and not in free agency.

O'Halloran writes that there's only one available linebacker who is younger than 30 and played at least 1,000 snaps last season: Washington's Perry Riley.

The Jaguars have seven linebackers under contract for 2014, including the three starters from last season: Paul Posluszny, Russell Allen and Geno Hayes. The team hopes to get faster and more versatile at outside linebacker to add to the pass rush and help in coverage.

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the web in our Reading the Coverage feature:

ESPN debuted the Bill Polian Free Agent Tracker Insider on Wednesday. Polian and Insider's NFL analysts evaluated the free agents and gave them grades. You can sort the list by various categories and keep track of signings pretty easily.

The Jaguars released their season-ticket campaign on Wednesday and O'Halloran writes it includes five new seating areas and a program the team hopes will keep the fans engaged year round.

The T-U reports that Jaguars owner Shad Khan has donated $50,000 to mayor Alvin Brown's re-election campaign, making him the top individual donor.

ESPN's Kevin Seifert writes that the qualities that made Johnny Manziel so good in college don't project to the NFL.

NFL media insider Ian Rapoport reported that the Houston Texans have an interest in pursuing Matt Cassel. If they sign Cassel, it could mean they're targeting Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 1 overall pick.

Jaguars fantasy breakdown: Week 1

September, 6, 2013
9/06/13
5:15
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Looking for some help with your fantasy football lineup? Every Friday I'll give you my opinions on which Jacksonville Jaguars players to play and sit as well as which of the opposing players might be a good play against the Jags. For more fantasy football advice, check out ESPN.com's fantasy football page.

Jaguars

RB Maurice Jones-Drew: He says he’s healthy and ready for whatever workload Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch throws his way. He had just 10 carries during the preseason because the team was trying to ease him back. If he is healthy, he’s capable of a 1,300-yard season. The only question is his TD production, which has fallen off from a high of 15 in 2009. Verdict: Play him as a flex option this week until a clearer picture emerges of his workload.

WR Cecil Shorts: With Justin Blackmon serving a four-game suspension, Shorts is the Jaguars’ top receiver. He’s coming off a year in which he caught 55 passes for 979 yards and seven touchdowns. He averaged 17.8 yards per catch -- better than Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, and DeSean Jackson. Verdict: Only play him as your No. 3 WR because of the uncertainty at quarterback.

TE Marcedes Lewis: He has been ruled out with a calf injury.

K Josh Scobee: He’s been a consistent performer and has made at least 22 field goals the past three seasons. However, after making five field goals of 50 or more yards in 2011, he only made one last season. Verdict: Because of the uncertainty of the offense, you’d be better off keeping him on the bench.

Jaguars defense/special teams: The special teams were pretty poor during training camp and the first half of the preseason schedule but an influx of players claimed off waiver claims has helped improved the units. Still, there aren’t any game breakers. The defense is starting two rookies in the secondary and is trying to improve a pass rush that produced NFL-worst 20 sacks last season. Verdict: Bench ‘em.

Kansas City

QB Alex Smith: Smith has been an efficient quarterback over the past three seasons. He has thrown only 20 interceptions in that span, the fewest in the NFL. However, he’s not regularly ripping off 300-yard games and with the Chiefs’ running game, his role will be as more of a game manager, even in Andy Reid’s West Coast offense. Make a few key throws here and there, but most importantly take care of the ball. Verdict: Keep him on your bench.

RB Jamaal Charles: He ran for 1,509 yards last season and there’s no reason to think he’s not going to threaten that number again in 2013. He’s the key to the Chiefs’ offense. He can be a grinder as well as a big-play runner -- he had three TD runs of at least 80 yards last season. Verdict: No question he’s a starter.

WR Dwayne Bowe: Bowe is one of the most talented receivers in the NFL, but he has been hurt by poor quarterback play. Smith is an upgrade from Matt Cassel in terms of efficiency and not turning the ball over, but the problem is that teams can double Bowe because of a lack of complementary playmakers at receiver. However, Bowe has caught 11 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns in three games against the Jaguars. Verdict: Play him as your No. 2/3 receiver.

WR Donnie Avery: He is the starter opposite Bowe. He caught 62 passes for 781 yards last season but is more of a deep threat. Since Reid’s West Coast offense stresses shorter passes, he may not have as many opportunities for big plays. Verdict: Sit him.

TE Anthony Fasano: He is entering his eighth season and coming off a career year in which he caught 41 passes for 332 yards and five touchdowns. The Jaguars struggled to cover tight ends in the preseason, so he could have a big day. Verdict: Play him.

K Ryan Succop: He makes 81.5 percent of his field goals and the Chiefs’ offense should be improved. Verdict: Start him.

Chiefs defense/special teams: Rookie Knile Davis returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the preseason and he’ll get some work on Sunday. The defense is loaded with playmakers -- linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston and safety Eric Berry -- and the Jaguars are starting a rookie right tackle in Luke Joeckel. Verdict: Start the Chiefs against a Jaguars offense with few experienced pass catchers and either a QB with a fractured right thumb or his back up.
Gud Bradley, Andy ReidAP PhotoGus Bradley and Andy Reid are looking to get off to fast starts with their new teams.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Fans know a lot about their favorite teams, but they don’t have the same depth of knowledge of the 31 other teams in the NFL. That’s not going to be a problem any longer.

Each week the NFL Nation writers will team up Q&A style to help you get a handle on each team. Today, Kansas City Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Jacksonville Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco help break down Sunday’s matchup.

Michael DiRocco: Is Alex Smith really an upgrade over Matt Cassel?

Adam Teicher: He had better be or the Chiefs are in some trouble. Cassel and Brady Quinn turned over the ball far too many times last season. One thing we know about Smith is that he hasn’t thrown many interceptions. He threw just 10 in his last 25 starts with the 49ers. So he’s been a quarterback who protects the ball, and if he can just do that, he’s already an upgrade over Cassel and Quinn. Another thing: Andy Reid’s West Coast offense will succeed if the quarterback completes a high percentage of throws. Smith completed 70 percent last season. If he can get close to that number this season, he’s even more of an upgrade.

Teicher: How patient will the Jaguars be with Blaine Gabbert on Sunday and this season?

DiRocco: This is a make-or-break season for Gabbert, who must prove he’s capable of being a franchise quarterback. That’s the team’s No. 1 goal for the season, so there will be a certain amount of patience. It does no good to give him a half or one game and yank him because the team will essentially be where it was heading into the season. That being said, if Gabbert really struggles during the first two months of the season, then the team will have its answer and may turn to Chad Henne or the recently signed Ricky Stanzi for the remainder of the season.

DiRocco: What’s the biggest change Andy Reid has brought to Kansas City?

Teicher: It’s a change brought by Reid and John Dorsey, the new general manager. Everybody seems to be pulling in the same direction. The Chiefs went through plenty of infighting the past few years and it was dragging them down. People often had their own agendas or felt they had to align themselves with one person or another. Dorsey and Reid swept that out the door. Winning looks to be the only goal and it certainly appears everybody is on board with that. Of course, it’s easy for a new administration to have everybody on board when it’s undefeated. So it’s an issue to keep an eye on once the Chiefs start losing some games.

Teicher: What are the biggest changes Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell have brought to the Jags?

DiRocco: On the field, it’s on defense, where Bradley is implementing a more aggressive attitude and trying to rebuild the secondary with bigger, more physical cornerbacks -- essentially what he did in Seattle. Off the field, Bradley and Caldwell have changed the culture in the locker room. There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm around the franchise even though everyone knows that the talent level needs a significant upgrade and the team likely isn’t going to reach .500. It was a much-needed boost, because the atmosphere around the team the past few seasons under Jack Del Rio and Mike Mularkey had become somewhat stale.

DiRocco: Some NFL experts have pegged the Chiefs as a playoff team just one season after finishing 2-14. What are a few things that have to happen for that to become a reality?

Teicher: They have many good players, but from the GM to the coach to the coordinators to the offensive and defensive system to the quarterback to 29 other players who didn’t play for the Chiefs last season, there’s a lot new here. How quickly Reid and his staff can pull everything together will be a key. The Chiefs have a favorable schedule the first half of the season and they need to take advantage because it gets more difficult after that. On the field, the Chiefs have to fix a turnover differential that was minus-24 last season. Their defense and special teams have to do a better job of providing better field position for the offense. This offense won’t make a lot of big plays, and if it has to go 80 yards on every possession, it will be a struggle.

Teicher: What are realistic expectations for the Jags this season in terms of number of wins?

DiRocco: I kind of let that slip in my earlier answer, but a six-win season would be the best-case scenario for the Jaguars. Four or five victories seems more likely, though, especially considering the team has back-to-back road games on the West Coast, plays San Francisco in London, and has to play at Denver, Indianapolis and Houston.

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