Jaguars OL Earl Watford: My First Impression

“Jacksonville is a place with amazing fans right off the top.” That was Earl Watford’s response when I asked him about what the conversation about the Jaguars was during his first four seasons in the league as an offensive lineman for the Arizona Cardinals on Jaguars Today. You can check out the full interview here, just skip ahead to the 1 hour and 9 minute mark.

Watford is a forgotten name in the Jaguars offseason plan, but has a chance to make a real impact on an offensive line that still has question marks at both guard spots. Watford was a fourth round pick of Arizona in 2013 and struggled to break into the Cardinals starting lineup until last season when he started eleven games. Eight of those starts came at right guard and three at right tackle.

There appears to be a clearer path to playing time on the Jaguars line at one of the guard spots. AJ Cann is one of the presumptive starters, but shouldn’t have anything locked down after a disappointing 2016 season, and the other guard spot is a mystery with second round pick Cam Robinson and Branden Albert being the two names most often mentioned there right now.

Brandon Linder, Cam Robinson and Branden Albert appear to be the best three lineman that the Jaguars have (as soon as Albert reports to the team) but there are big questions about where two of those names are going to play. Based on performance last season I think that Linder should be the only presumptive starter in that group while the other four positions ought to be opened up for the best man to win the job. However, we all know how “open competitions” usually go. Given the draft/free agency capital invested into them it would appear likely that Branden Albert, Cam Robinson, Brandon Linder, AJ Cann and Jermy Parnell will be the team’s starting five.

That creates an uphill battle for Watford to earn playing time, but not an impossible one. How long of a leash will AJ Cann be given in his third year? I don’t think Cann should be handed a starting job and I certainly believe he should feel the pressure to hold on to that spot, if he earns it, all season long.

 

When It Comes To Albert There’s No Need To Worry

There is no doubt, for me at least, that the most interesting tidbit to come out of Jaguars mini-camp were the comments of head coach Doug Marrone regarding his lack of communication with presumptive left tackle Branden Albert. It is rare for a coach to answer a question that honestly about something that there really isn’t any need to answer at all. Especially when you consider how little information there is to share.

The Jaguars traded for Branden Albert. Branden Albert said he expects his contract to be reworked. The Jaguars have made it their very public stance that they won’t rework that contract. Neither side has been in communication with the other, outside of the shots fired by the Jaguars representatives towards Albert.

Marrone hasn’t spoken with Albert. He didn’t have to say that. He could have said, “I’m only going to talk about the players that are here.” We have all seen coaches and executives handle these kinds of situations that way before, but he didn’t. Instead, Marrone answered in a very blunt, honest fashion. He said he hasn’t talked to him. He said that it makes him more frustrated than angry. Frustrated that he just doesn’t know what Albert is thinking and can’t give Tom Coughlin or Dave Caldwell any more information than that, and the he can’t speak FOR Albert because he simply hasn’t spoke TO Albert.

I am surprised that Albert hasn’t been in communication with the team, but I really don’t care that he isn’t here for the voluntary portion of the offseason. Albert has been around the league long enough (going into his 10th season) and has played the game at a high enough level (2 Pro Bowl selections with his last coming in 2015) to know how to get himself ready for the season. You can check out Albert’s Instagram page here to see him working out in his spare time right now. If he doesn’t show up on June 13th for the first mandatory portion of the offseason the conversation will drastically change, but for now it is a bit of a non story.

Albert is almost certainly one of the Jaguars five best offensive lineman when he gets here and is therefore a likely starter whenever that times comes. The building of chemistry during this time of year is blown out of proportion, in my opinion, especially considering how little and what kind of work players can actually do on field with coaches.

The discussion about a possible battle for the left tackle spot between Cam Robinson and Branden Albert is something I will entertain more when Albert reports to the team which I fully expect to be when the mandatory portion of the offseason begins. After all, there aren’t any other places where Albert is going to get paid nine million dollars this year. I think that, ultimately, will get Albert eager to put on a Jaguars uniform.

Jaguars Free Agency Primer

Free agency is right around the corner and the Jaguars are expected to be players in it…again. I’m looking forward to the day when the Jags are like the Packers and Steelers and Patriots and have drafted well enough that they can just use their cap space to hold onto their own players that they have drafted and developed and dip into free agency, but we clearly aren’t there yet.

A couple of notes as we head into the frenzy of the next couple of days…

1. Worrying about how much money your team (in this case that is likely the Jaguars) spends on a player is dumb. The Jaguars have nearly $80 million dollars to spend despite having been big players in free agency the last two years. They could land the top four free agents this year and STILL have no issue resigning anyone that they want (Allen Robinson, Telvin Smith, etc.). The cap keeps going up and up. The issue isn’t how much money a player costs, the issue is choosing the RIGHT PLAYER. That’s what matters. The Jaguars haven’t done that enough…and that’s a wild understatement.

2. Why are you still worried that they signed a guard for 12 million a year? I know, this largely goes back to my first point, but it’s important. If the cap is going to keep going up, then the money that teams can spend is going to keep going up which means the value of positions (like guard) that teams used to fill in for 5-6 million at the top end are going to go up. This is basic logic, but let me lay it out as simply as I can. A player is worth whatever a team is willing to pay them and if a team has more to spend then the player’s will make more money. Simple, right? Remember that when you start to ask, “Why did they spend…” Just stop and remember two things. They spent it 1. because that is what they had to spend to get a player they liked and 2. it isn’t your money…why are you worried about it? Worry about the player, not the contract.

3. I’ve been saying it for months and I’m not backing off of it now. If the Jaguars don’t land one of the four offensive guards that we’ve been talking about since before the season ended that would be a failure to me. They need help on the line and there are high end options available to them to get that help and they have enough money to land one. Get. It. Done.

Obviously more thoughts on free agency to come on Jaguars Today. You know where to find me. Comment. Share. Like.

Tim Tebow is A Met

Tebow is signing with the Mets and once again I’m watching the two sides of the Tebow dividing line fly to the extreme sides that sports most polarizing figures have always pushed fans to take. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in the middle.

To say that it is offensive for Tim to play baseball is taking it too far. The guy loves to play sports and is still young enough to play them at a high level. Is he going to succeed playing baseball? I have no idea, but I’m not mad at him for trying.

If you think Tim Tebow playing baseball is a joke then you should direct your anger at the Mets for signing him. I don’t remember this kind of anger directed at Michael Jordan for ‘taking someone’s spot’ with the White Sox organization. Jordan packed stadiums everywhere he went on his baseball tour and that’s why he was in the organization…playing double A baseball…badly. The Mets to this point are going to have Tim playing in their Instructional League. Time will tell if Tim gets beyond that. I know if I were the Mets I would have him up just for the gate. That’s the honest truth.

You can also direct your anger at ESPN who tweeted out Tebow alongside other great two sport stars like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders. That’s a joke, and it’s something worth getting upset about. Jackson was one of the best baseball and football players at the same time. Sanders is a hall of fame football player and was good enough to play major league baseball. Tebow flashed for a season in Denver and has accomplished nothing in football since, and just signed to play in an instructional league. Tim, as far I know, doesn’t ask to be portrayed in that kind of light. He just is. Why? Because he’s Tim Tebow and his name alone draws attention from those who support and hate him.

Tim has never struck me as anything other than a likeable, earnest guy. He is a lightning rod for controversy that has nothing to do with anything other than a guy being likeable and earnest and people thinking he isn’t good at what he is likeable and earnest doing. It’s really funny when you step back and think about it, and if your opinion on Tebow is too serious to take a step back and chuckle about it…lighten up. It’s not that serious.

Oh and one last thing, baseball doesn’t need Tim Tebow so hush with that nonsense, but Tebow doesn’t need baseball either, which is why I think his interest in playing is earnest.