Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags' Strategy to Unfold; Jaguars Likely to Look toward Offensive Line, Improving Every Area of Defense

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jags' Strategy to Unfold; Jaguars Likely to Look toward Offensive Line, Improving Every Area of Defense

Article excerpt

Byline: Ryan O'Halloran

They're not Miami, which spent lavishly last off-season and appears to be adopting the same strategy this year in an effort to resuscitate its franchise.

They're not Cleveland, which used its transition tag last week on center Alex Mack and been linked to will-cost-a-lot San Francisco safety Donte Whitner.

And they're not Dallas, Pittsburgh or New Orleans, which have spent the last month cutting players and re-working existing contracts to create salary cap space.

So who are the Jaguars? What is their plan?

A picture will crystallize when the free agent signing period starts Tuesday at 4 p.m.

If the Jaguars are "aggressively modest," as general manager Dave Caldwell termed it last month, they will try and make a right-away move before laying back.

An educated guess on The Plan: The Jaguars are committed to building their offensive line and entire defense until they absolutely, positively believe they've found the right quarterback.

If the Seattle Plan rings a bell, you're right.

The Seahawks drafted left tackle Russell Okung, cornerback Walter Thurmond and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor in 2010, guard James Carpenter, linebacker K.J. Wright and cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell in 2011 and defensive end Bruce Irvin, linebacker Bobby Wagner and quarterback Russell Wilson in 2012.

When they settled on Wilson, just about every other piece was in place to make Seattle elite.

A look at the Jaguars' moves:

2013 free agency: Signed cornerback Alan Ball, linebacker Geno Hayes and defensive tackles Roy Miller and Sen'Derrick Marks.

2013 draft: Selected left tackle Luke Joeckel (round 1), safeties Johnathan Cyprien (round 2) and Josh Evans (round 6) and cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz (round 3), Jeremy Harris (round 7) and Demetrius McCray (round 7).

2013 re-signing: Marks on a four-year extension ($8 million guaranteed).

2014 free agency: Defensive end Red Bryant on a four-year deal ($5.255 million guaranteed).

2014 draft: Pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney at No. 3? Linebacker Khalil Mack if they trade down? Center Travis Swanson or linebacker Kyle Van Noy later on?

The Jaguars remain conservative by nature, which means they are unlikely to sign a pass rusher that commands $20 million guaranteed or draft a quarterback No. 3 overall. (Don't rule out them taking Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson in the first round).

The same philosophy may apply to free agency. The Jaguars figure to prioritize offensive line and defense.

But will it result in a better on-field product?

An analysis of the last 10 seasons in five major defensive statistics was revealing.

*Fewest yards: The top five made the 2013 playoffs; at least four teams in the top 10 reached the postseason each year; in five years, six or more teams qualified. …

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