Yardbarker Horiz

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mirror, Mirror for Bucs and Jags

Last week we compared the rebuilding process done by General Manager Scott Pioli with the Kansas City Chiefs to the rebuilding done by General Manager Mark Dominik with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  This week, we'll compare Dominik to Gene Smith and his rebuild-in-progress in Jacksonville.  As you'll see, the two teams as well as the philosophies of their General Managers are mirror reflections.

As previously noted, Gene Smith inherited some valuable players at key positions, such as Quarterback and Running Back.  With these pieces in place, the Jaguars have spent their draft picks up front on both sides of the football:  in 2009, the Jaguars drafted offensive tackles with their first two picks, then added a defensive tackle in the second round.  In 2010, Jacksonville spent their first four picks on defensive linemen (another tackle and three defensive ends).  The results of this approach are, as all second year plans in the NFL seem to be, inconclusive at this point.

Let's compare: 

2009 First Round Picks:
Buccaneers:  Josh Freeman, QB
Jaguars:  Eugene Monroe, OT
Quarterback in Tampa had been a revolving door since the SuperBowl victory in 2002.  While Josh Freeman is the designated starter in his second year, he will not play for the rest of the preseason to nurse a broken bone in the thumb of his throwing hand.  Meanwhile, Jacksonville already had an established veteran in David Gerrard and so was able to select elsewhere.  Monroe started the Jaguars second and third preseason games in 2010.

2009 Second Round:
Buccaneers:  No Pick
Jaguars: Eben Britton, OT
Britton has been inactive for both the Jaguars preseason games this season but started opposite of Monroe against Tampa Bay 

2009 Third Round:
Buccaneers:  R Miller, DT, starter for all 2010 preseason games
Jaguars:  T. Knighton, DT, starter for all 2010 preseason games, and Derek Cox, DB, currently at the top of the depth chart at one cornerback position after a promising rookie season.

2010 First Round:
Buccaneers:  Gerald McCoy, DT, starter for all 2010 preseason games
Jaguars:  Tyson Alualu, DE, not active for the first preseason game but started the second and third.  Are you noticing the defensive draft patterns here?  Did I mention that these two francises have proud defensive histories?  Hold on, more on the way.

2010 Second Round:
Buccaneers:  Brian Price, DT,  not active for the first preseason game but started the second and third; Arrelious Benn, WR, currently mired in a suddenly deep receiver group.
Jaguars:  No pick.
This flips the 2nd round from 2009. 

2010 Third Round:
Buccaneers:  Myron Lewis, CB, hampered by injuries saw his first time in the 2nd 2010 preseason game and played in the third.
Jaguars:  D'Anthony Smith, DT, has not played in the preseason in 2010.

Some common attributes for new General Managers are starting to become apparent.  The first is getting a talented QB in position.  As evidenced by Dominik and Holmgren this past offseason, continuing with Pioli in KC and Smith in Jacksonville, all the newly appointed General Managers have either inherited a competent starting quarterback (Smith), gotten one from free agency (Holmgren, Pioli), or sought one through an early draft pick (Dominik, Holmgren again).  Other Class of 2009 General Managers are doing the same thing:  Denver traded for Kyle Orton and drafted Tim Tebow; Detroit drafted Matthew Stafford; St. Louis drafted Sam Bradford (QB).  Settling the Quarterback position seems to be job #1.  In many cases, these men are living up to the job (though not all, yet).

For the Buccaneers and the Jaguars, the next step was upgrading the defense.  Both teams have spent a great deal of draft picks up front on defense, and likewise you saw two young defenses play strong last Saturday night to a 10-6 at half, 19-16 final score.

In fact, these two teams specifically are starting to look very similar, with youth up front on defense, at the corner, and at the wide receiver positions.

Will these teams have similar success this season?  In less than two weeks we'll start to see the answer unfold!

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