COMMENTARY | The Jacksonville Jaguars have officially started the season 0-5, which is the worst start in the team's 18-year history.
The game against the St. Louis Rams was particularly problematic, considering promising rookie left tackle Luke Joeckel fractured his right ankle, effectively ending his season. This was Joeckel's first game on the left side of the line as a professional after the team traded Eugene Monroe to Baltimore for a fourth- and fifth-round draft pick.
The game also cemented Blaine Gabbert's legacy as a legitimate NFL draft bust, if there was any question beforehand. Gabbert went into the game without a single touchdown pass to go along with five interceptions -- two of which went for touchdowns in the other direction. After the game in St. Louis, Gabbert has one touchdown pass, seven interceptions -- three of which went for touchdowns. His days as a starting quarterback in the NFL are numbered.
The defense also made quarterback Sam Bradford, who has been struggling this season, look like an All-Pro quarterback as he threw for three touchdowns against the struggling unit.
The funniest part of this whole situation? If the draft were to start tomorrow, the Jaguars wouldn't even hold the top overall pick -- that prestige would belong to the New York Giants.
The team has hit rock bottom. While Jaguars fans are in for a long season, the team will not be this bad forever. If David Caldwell makes a few rational moves within the next year, the team could potentially compete for a playoff spot by 2015.
There is nothing Caldwell can do to save this season. The Jaguars will be lucky to win a single game this year.
So, here are three things the team must do this offseason in order to compete in the future:
1. Improve the interior offensive line
Guard Will Rackley has been atrocious this season. The former Baylor standout has been pushed around like a rag doll all season and consistently finds himself on the injury report. Center Brad Meester is 36 years old and arguably should have retired a couple of seasons ago; his play has been slipping dramatically and he isn't a fraction of the player he once was, which wasn't anything to write home about to begin with. Right guard Uche Nwaneri has outperformed Rackley by a considerable margin, yet has been only average this season.
While there is no excuse for the poor quarterback play so far -- especially in regards to Gabbert, who often scrambles into a defender, effectively sacking himself regularly -- it is hard to go through your progressions when a defender is in your face at the peak of your backdrop. The Jaguars must fill these "holes" with talent, via free agency or with picks 2-7 in the draft. Center Alex Mack could be a viable option for the team next offseason.2. Find a Pass Rusher
Jacksonville's best pass-rusher is Jason Babin, who has a mere two sacks this season. This is a team that has not had a legitimate pass-rusher in nearly 14 years. The Jaguars have tried mightily to find a pass-rusher in the draft over the pass decade, selecting guys like Derrick Harvey, Quentin Groves, and Andre Branch -- all failed to make an impact.
What the team must do is address this position via free agency, making a move for a guy like Michael Johnson, who will not command as big a contract as 2014 free agents Jared Allen or Michael Bennett. Throw him on a line with a couple of other big bodies on the interior and production will ensue.
3. Draft Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater is only a junior this year, but he is scheduled to graduate early, recently took out a $10 million insurance policy, and told Dan Patrick that he would rather be the No. 1 pick than win the Heisman Trophy. While the Jaguars would not hold the top pick in the draft if it were today, realistically, they will by season's end.
Bridgewater has elite pocket presence, pinpoint accuracy, and already knows how to manipulate defenses -- and he's only 20 years old. One could make an argument that Bridgewater is the second-best quarterback prospect of the past decade, behind only Andrew Luck. Throw Bridgewater in an offense that includes wide receivers Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts III, and it could be a recipe for long-term success. If the Jaguars have the No. 1 pick come May, Caldwell will not pass on a prospect like Bridgewater.
Matt Gonzales is a Jacksonville native who has been following the Jaguars for the last decade. He graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in Journalism and is a contributing freelance writer for both Yahoo Sports and Cover32.com.
Follow Matt on Twitter @mattgonzales25.
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