NFL Nation: George Yarno
In 2009, with his first pick as an NFL general manager, Gene Smith selected Eugene Monroe at No. 8 overall. Smith believed the foundation of his Jacksonville Jaguars should start with a cornerstone lineman.
Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M was long presumed to be the top pick in this draft, but Kansas City chose Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher instead.
New Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said recently that if the team drafted a premier tackle at the top, the newcomer would play on the right, with Monroe remaining on the left. That, of course, could change.
Monroe has been a good player for the Jaguars, not a great one. I don’t think longtime line coach Andy Heck maximized the talents of many of the team’s guys. Now Heck is, interestingly, with the Chiefs and will coach Fisher, while George Yarno will work with Monroe and Joeckel.
Having two left tackles and playing one on the right side isn’t a crime. A year from now, Monroe might leave as a free agent. We’ll have to see how he plays, how much the Jaguars want him, how much he wants to stay. If Caldwell had drafted a defender, all those questions still could have been in play for Monroe after 2013.
At worst, in a year, the Jaguars would shift Joeckel to left tackle and probably get an upgrade.
For 2013, the Jaguars just became a significantly better pass-protecting team, which helps Blaine Gabbert's chance to improve or creates a better setting for a new quarterback. They get better blocking for Maurice Jones-Drew, too.
Right tackle was a disaster area last year with Cameron Bradfield starting 12 games and Guy Whimper starting four. Neither was up to the task.
Cross it off the list of issues.
Pass rush, cornerback and strong safety remain massive holes, and a quarterback could be in play with the first pick in the second round Friday night. Or sooner, if the Jaguars trade back into the first round.
One reaction is to question how much the team likes him if the new regime, which has plenty of money, isn’t reaching out to a solid player who looks like he can be a staple.
I understand it though. It’s just too early.
General manager David Caldwell, coach Gus Bradley, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch and, probably most significantly, offensive line coach George Yarno, hardly know Monroe yet.
Perhaps once they get to know him and find out just how good he is at what they want to do up front, then they’d approach him.
But inheriting a bad team, the brass is understandably focused on the draft now.
There is nearly a year before Monroe will be a free agent. Perhaps they will want to open extension conversations after OTAs or after minicamps or after a couple weeks of training camp.
While a lot of teams and a lot of players don’t like to hold extension conversations during the regular season, a team executive and an agent can easily do so without creating a distraction for a team.
We’ll have to see if the Jaguars are a team that’s willing to do that.
Or maybe, even if they fall in love with Monroe, they simply won’t ponder extending anyone until after the team’s actually played a full season under the new regime.
Which would be just fine.
Minnesota owner Zygi Wilf is ramping up efforts to sell his stadium plan as a way to spur job growth and stimulate the local economy, according to reports in the Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Wilf hosted a meeting of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council on Tuesday, hoping to gain its leaders' support in spreading the message. Dick Anfang, the council's president, estimates the project could net $500 million for local contractors and at various times provide jobs to as many as 5,500 people during the four-year construction period.
There are many questions left to be answered about those figures, including whether any of the jobs would be permanent and if the stimulus would compensate for the taxpayer contribution -- expected to be $700 million or more -- the project would require.
Every indication from Minnesota state leaders has suggested the Vikings won't get serious consideration during this year's session of the state legislature. But it's clear Wilf will not go quietly. His stadium point man is already elevating the rhetoric, noting the Vikings have 30 games left on their Metrodome lease (which expires after the 2011 season).
Continuing around the NFC North:
- There were reports last month that Detroit would hire Bob Slowik as its defensive backs coach. But a report from FOX-13 in Memphis says the Lions have hired University of Memphis defensive coordinator Tim Walton for the job. The Lions have yet to confirm any member of their coaching staff other than coordinators Gunther Cunningham (defense) and Scott Linehan (offense).
- Via Dave Birkett of the Oakland Press, Rivals.com reports that former University of Washington assistant Tim Lappano will join the Lions as tight ends coach.
- Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com confirms earlier reports that former Lions offensive coordinator Jim Colletto, demoted last month to offensive line coach, won't return in any capacity. Colletto said he likely will retire. George Yarno has been reported to be the Lions' new offensive line coach.
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times analyzes whether one of the draft's top quarterbacks could slip to the Bears at No. 18.
- In an online chat, Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette says he thinks backup tailback Brandon Jackson will get more carries in 2009.
- Mike Vandermause of the Press-Gazette suggests the Packers freeze ticket prices for 2009. A decision is expected next month.
Although there haven't been any official announcements, it appears new Detroit coach Jim Schwartz has lined up most of his coaching staff.
David Birkett of the Oakland Press reports that former Tampa Bay assistant George Yarno will be the Lions' offensive line coach. Meanwhile, holdover Shawn Jefferson (receivers) and Sam Gash (running backs) are expected to be retained in their current positions. Former offensive coordinator Jim Colletto, who was demoted to offensive line coach earlier this month, is not expected to be retained.
Previously, it's been reported that former Denver defensive coordinator Bob Slowik will coach defensive backs and former Tennessee assistant Matt Burke will handle linebackers. That leaves the defensive line as the only job that is publicly unaccounted for.
Continuing around the NFC North on Super Bowl hump day:
- New Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham expects his staff to be formally announced within a week. Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press reports.
- Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel breaks down Pittsburgh's version of the 3-4 defense, one that new Packers coordinator Dom Capers likely will emulate.
- Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times traces the path of former Bears offensive lineman Mike Gandy, who will start in the Super Bowl for Arizona.