Outside of injury, the Jag's quarterback situation is in great hands. Mark Brunell remains one of the top QB's in the NFL. Nonetheless, Brunell has been injured and his style of play warrants some discussion of further injury. The impressive play of Jonathan Quinn should make Martin expendable. Quinn came into relieve Brunell and Martin, and showed signs of poise and capability that might just slate him as Jacksonville's No.2 with Will Furrer staying on board as the third QB.
With the emergence of RB Fred Taylor, the Jags are in an interesting predicament. It's probably in the interest of both parties involved for James Stewart to find a new home, because it has been made clear that Taylor is the RB of the future. FB Daimon Shelton's role is underrated. Shelton has excellent size and uses his powerful legs to sustain blocks. The next step for Shelton is to become more reliable in the passing game.
The Jaguars are blessed with one of the league's most prolific WR duos. Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith have established themselves as an extremely complimentary tandem and throw opponents defensive backfields into fits. As a No.3 WR, Reggie Barlow is an asset too. Barlow is a big-play talent and the threat of a homerun commands respect out of defenses when he lines up on the field. Lack of depth is a concern because it limits the Jags ability to run four-receiver sets.
The team made it clear that Pete Mitchell was not the man, as they signed the former Jet, Kyle Brady to start at the TE position. Mitchell headed to the Big Apple signing with the Giants. Reserve, Damon Jones has all the physical tools, but now he must improve his questionable work ethic and contribute in 2-TE sets.
The only big shake up in the off-season should be at the ROG position with Brian DeMarco. DeMarco has had an ongoing personal conflict with Coach Coughlin and has decided to exercise his option to leave as a FA. This means you can expect the team to sign restricted free agent Rich Tylski. Tylski split time at the ROG position. The team may also get back OC Michael Cheever, who missed the season with a back injury. That could mean rookie OC John Wade will battle with Tylski for the ROG position. Of course, the Jags have the NFL's best OT tandem in Tony Boselli and Leon Searcy. This line should shape up to once again be one of the league's more dominant units. A swing player for depth would be a luxury.
This is a major project for the Jaguars in the off-season. DT's John Jurkovic and Kelvin Pritchett are both UFA's, with Jurkovic signing with Cleveland. At the DT position, the Jags only have two players under contract, and both Seth Payne and Renaldo Wynn are coming off IR. The addition of Tennessee's Gary Walker would allow Wynn to return to DE for depth and to shore up the pass rush. The team is still waiting on DE Jeff Lagaman's decision to play one more season or not. DE's Eric Curry and Fernando Smith are both in the FA pool as well, but the team feels confident in letting them go. With Tony Brakens, Joel Smeenge, the hopeful returns of Lageman and Wynn, the Jaguars look to get rid of some of the dead weight and upgrade their pass-rush defense.
Jacksonville seems set on replacing UFA MLB Bryan Schwartz. The team was not happy with Schwartz's performance last season and re-signed Brant Boyer to tag off with Tom McManus at MLB. At the SLB spot, Bryce Paup will return, but the heat will be on. For the money Paup is making, Jacksonville was expecting a higher level of performance and certainly more than 6.5 sacks (2nd lowest output in 8 years). Kevin Hardy will be looked to once again anchor the Jags defense. Hardy led the team in tackles and had the best all-around season of his career in '98.
The concern over losing FS Chris Hudson to free agency was answered by signing All-Pro Carnell Lake. The Jag's may also look to let go of Deon Figures and his salary to free up some money to pay Lake and chase Hudson. This is a secondary that has taken heat, but with a healthy SS Donovan Darius, and the pursuit of a more prominent pass rush, this should be a dependable unit for the Jags in '99.
Punter Bryan Barker averaged 45.2 yards-per-kick, had no blocks, and put 28 punts inside the oppositions 20, second most in the AFC. PK Mike Hollis continues to go about his business, and go about it in All-Pro fashion. The return game is also in good hands with Reggie Barlow. Barlow is a speedster that possesses a threat of taking it all the way every time he touches the ball.