Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It's Too Soon for Jags to Give Up on Soward

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It's Too Soon for Jags to Give Up on Soward

Article excerpt

He was booed Sunday at Alltel Stadium louder than any Jaguar in history, continues to be vilified on the airwaves and got publicly reprimanded by his boss, Tom Coughlin, again yesterday for practically handing a victory to the Washington Redskins.

Now that R. Jay Scissorhands, er, Soward has been rebuked in various forms by all the frustrated black-and-teal congregation, do you feel better? Or would you prefer to hang him in effigy from the top of the Modis building?

Yes, Soward messed up. He dropped a couple of passes and a punt that should have been caught, and it cost his team dearly. There's no question Soward is playing way below expectations for a first-round draft pick, but to bench him indefinitely isn't going to help him or the Jaguars. And for those already declaring him a bust after just eight NFL games, stop ingesting those rush-to-judgment pills.

When Coughlin drafted Soward out of Southern California, he knew full well he was getting an electrifying receiver who had a lot of growing up to do. Soward's immaturity was evident in training camp and periodically since then, with his penchant for showing up late at team meetings, an offense for which he has been fined repeatedly.

So when his lack of discipline off the field manifested itself Sunday in the form of an 18-point swing in the Redskins' favor, Coughlin lit into him. And Jaguar nation followed.

But to suggest Soward, a 22-year-old rookie, should be chained to the bench for a while or given his walking papers is the height of absurdity. You don't see second-round draft pick Brad Meester getting pulled every time the Jaguars guard gets pancaked or misses a blocking assignment, because Coughlin knows he's not going to improve unless he's out on the field in a three-point stance.

As exasperating as it is to see Soward drop catchable balls, he's also one of the Jaguars' most breathtaking talents. You don't write off a $5 million investment after half a season because he's struggling with some basic techniques of the game. You see if he can play himself out of it.

"R. Jay is doing all the hard stuff," said receiver Jimmy Smith. …

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