Jacksonville's Downward Spiral Starts at Top

Jacksonville's Downward Spiral Starts at Top

During Thursday's embarrassing 27-10 home loss to the Colts, the Jacksonville Jaguars acted like they were rejecting a newly transplanted organ. Virtually every notable personnel move the team made this offseason produced a notably disappointing game. Veteran free agent wideout Laurent Robinson, already benched after signing a big deal this past offseason, fumbled a reception away to end a promising drive. Former Giants cornerback Aaron Ross was lost in coverage on a 41-yard bomb that set up a Colts touchdown. Franchise kicker Josh Scobee missed his first field goal of the year. Most disturbingly, wide receiver Justin Blackmon — whom the Jaguars traded up to acquire with the fifth pick in this year's draft — continued to exhibit a total inability to separate from pro coverage and become a playmaker in the passing game. Jacksonville threw the ball 47 times against a team whose starting cornerbacks were both inactive, and Blackmon mustered just three catches for 25 yards. At least third-round pick punter Bryan Anger had a good game.

 

The man behind these decisions is Jaguars general manager Gene Smith, who serves as an interesting case study in why some of the league's personnel decision makers fail when given a role as a key decision maker. Smith, who has been a part of the Jaguars organization since the team debuted, started as a lowly area scout before working his way all the way up through the ranks to become the team's general manager in 2009. When the Jacksonville franchise was sold by Wayne Weaver to billionaire bumper magnate Shahid Khan during the 2011 season, Weaver's last act as owner was to give Smith a three-year contract extension, a deal that ensured he would have time to build a team around Gabbert. Smith's tenure, though, has been marked by one clear problem: For whatever Smith offers as a talent evaluator, he's exhibited virtually no ability to be one in the NFL marketplace.

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