2007 Retrospective Response

In an article that inspired heated debate, Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country argued that the 2007 season in which the Jaguars went 11-5 and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild card round of the playoffs was detrimental to the future of the team. I actually agree with Alfie in that evaluation, but I don't entirely agree with all the reasoning behind the article. Alfie begins his argument by saying that the Jaguars "bought into their own hype" and signed massive extensions for Jack Del Rio and David Garrard, arguing that both deals "still haunt the team." It is at that reasoning that I draw the line of agreement and respectfully disagree. While I will gladly go on record saying that I am not at all a fan of David Garrard, I do not believe that the Jaguars have been "haunted" by the deal. Has Garrard played, in the last three seasons, like a player deserving of a $63 million extension? In my opinion, absolutely not. He has faltered down the stretch and made crucial mistakes at crucial times, and as such is a liability to the franchise. However, at no point in time do I feel that the contract prevented the Jaguars from making a move at the position. If a reasonable opportunity to upgrade with a new and better starting quarterback position had arisen in the 2009 or 2010 offseason I don't believe that Garrard's contract would have prevented the Jaguars from doing so. Even if an upgrade was available in the 2009 offseason, I'm not sure the Jaguars would have been eager to sign the player and essentially give up on a player they named the franchise quarterback just one offseason prior. I also do not believe that Jack Del Rio has been a hinderance to the team in the last three seasons. While I am not a Garrard supporter, I am a Del Rio supporter and I believe he has gotten the most out of his team in the recent rebuilding years. While his accomplishments probably didn't warrant the contract he received, I also don't believe this contract was of any hinderance to the team during the rebuild. With all that said, I still agree with Alfie that the 2007 season was very counterproductive from a long term standpoint. What the 2007 season did was make the Jaguars believe that they were just a few players away from a championship team. As Alfie pointed out in the article, they spent big money on free agent acquistions Jerry Porter, Drayton Florence and Cleo Lemon. None of the three players were retained for the 2009 season. The Jaguars then traded a disgruntled Marcus Stroud to acquire a 3rd and 5th round pick which were used to trade up and select Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves. They traded another draft pick to acquire collosal draft bust Troy Williamson in the hopes that he could revive his career in teal. Ultimately, it was an offseason when the value of players like Ernest Wilford, Bobby McCray, Marcus Stroud and Terry Cousin was underestimated and the age of the team was ignored. When offensive lineman for the Jaguars went down in the week 1 opener, the Jaguars had a lack of youthful talent to fill in the gaps because the 2008 draft was essentially lost. Three years later the Jaguars have just about picked up the pieces of a 2008 offseason that crippled the franchise. So while I disagree with Alfie that the Del Rio and Garrard contracts were "the Jaguars biggest albatrosses," I agree with him that the 2007 season was one that directly caused a catastrophic 2008 offseason and 2009 rebuild.