Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Jaguars open offseason program amid more change
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Maurice Jones-Drew had four empty stalls to his right and two to his left.
And dozens more scattered across the locker room.
It was a clear sign of all the changes surrounding the Jacksonville Jaguars. The team opened its offseason conditioning program Tuesday with another new coaching staff, a new general manager and without several key starters from recent years.
"If you don't win, there's going to be changes regardless," Jones-Drew said. "You never really go in thinking you're going to have 57 guys on the roster. You wouldn't think that with the caliber of guys that were here, but there's a different vision.
"A lot of people think it's just fun and games around here. We have a job to do, and if you don't do it, they're going to find someone else to do it. It's just the reality of the NFL."
First-time head coach Gus Bradley, the energetic former defensive coordinator with Seattle, opened the day with a 45-minute team meeting.
It was a wide-ranging introduction that included stories about his background, his vision for the team and mentions of Mozart, Michelangelo and Beethoven.
"Oh yeah, we were hitting them all," said Bradley, whose message invigorated players. "Our plan is going to be really simple. Michelangelo, he used three primary colors and look at what he did. Beethoven used seven notes and look at what he did. It was more along those lines. We don't have to be over complicated in our house.
"Maybe to the offense, maybe to the defense that's watching us on film it appears that way, but we're going to teach and really understand with simple concepts."
The simplest concept is that the Jaguars are rebuilding.
Owner Shad Khan cleaned house after the worst season (2-14) in franchise history. He fired general manager Gene Smith, the architect of the roster the past four seasons, and coach Mike Mularkey after a one-year stint.
Khan hired former Indianapolis and Atlanta assistant Dave Caldwell as general manager and then added Bradley to the mix. Together, they're reshaping a team that has missed the playoffs 11 of the past 13 years.
"The season we had a year ago brings about this kind of change, so we're sort of lying in the bed we've made for ourselves," linebacker Russell Allen said. "But it's all for the good."
The Jaguars parted ways with several former starters, including guard Eben Britton, running back Rashad Jennings, fullback Greg Jones, safety Dawan Landry, linebacker Daryl Smith, offensive tackle Guy Whimper, defensive tackles Terrance Knighton and C.J. Mosley, and cornerbacks Derek Cox, Rashean Mathis and Aaron Ross.
The team also declined to tender five restricted free agents: fullback Brock Bolin, linebacker Kyle Bosworth, center John Estes, tight end Zach Potter and defensive end George Selvie.
"When I was at home training, I was checking (the team website) every minute to make sure I was still on the team," tight end Marcedes Lewis said. "It's crazy. They're moving in a different direction. We've just got to trust that it's going to be right by the time we play games, and I believe that we're going to get there. But it's crazy."
The team also made three changes at positions dealing closely with players: hiring Jimmy Luck as equipment manager, hiring former Colts tight end Marcus Pollard as director of player development and adding Hamzah Ahmad as director of football logistics and facilities.
Throw in recent resignations by longtime and high-ranking Jaguars executives Bill Prescott and Macky Weaver, and there's few feeling comfortable inside the facility.
And Bradley likes it that way.
"This is going to be a competitive environment," he said. "We're going to apply pressure. You're going to see some things going on here that may be uncomfortable. Understand the pressure is being applied to help us get better, but I am not going to go with stress. I am going to try to stay away from that."
The Jaguars have two weeks of conditioning before a three-day orientation camp (April 16-18) for veterans and workout players. Jones-Drew (foot), running back Montell Owens (knee), running back Jordan Todman (calf), guard Uche Nwaneri (knee) and tight end Matt Veldman (knee) won't participate.
But like their teammates, they will use this window to get to know coaches as well as another new offense and defense.
"We've had so much change, it's going to be a huge couple of months for us," Allen said. "We're getting used to who we have around, who's coming in and who's going out, and kind of getting all that figured out."