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Smith not 'powerful' but 'meaningful' as Jags GM

Discussion in 'Tennessee Titans and NFL Talk' started by NewsGrabber, Jan 28, 2009.

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    <em>Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky</em> <p>Thanks to Jacksonville PR chief Ryan Robinson, I've been able to look over a piece of the transcript of general manager Gene Smith's first meeting with the local media.</p> <p>Some thoughts and some snippets:</p> <p>Smith has been with the Jaguars since the beginning and sees front office promotion as an example of how he'd like to see the Jaguars work -- by growing their own players.</p> <p>He went back to his experience as an assistant coach at Edinboro University and Ohio University to illustrate that.</p> <blockquote> <p>"We went with high school players [and away from junior college transfers] and I saw over the course of time players who were in the program four and five years develop this sense of ownership that 'This is our team.' I saw on our best teams great peer leadership because they felt that when things were going wrong that they were going to correct them. The guys that were in the program for three, four, five years, they were stepping forward and saying 'No, this is how you do it. This is our way.' And I think when you have players in the building that play well, do right off the field, if you have an opportunity to reward your own, like I felt I needed to when I got the position that I'm in, in our own department, I think it sends the right message."</p> </blockquote> <p>On the potential to recover to compete for a playoff berth in one year:</p> <blockquote> <p>"I think when you look at Miami who was 1-15, you look at Arizona, they're in the Super Bowl, they're 8-8, you can look at Baltimore at 5-11, I believe Atlanta was 4-12. I think the NFL to some degree has become a year-to-year league. There are things that you can do if you make the right decisions in terms of retooling a football team and getting them back in the hunt. Now the most important thing as you get into an NFL season, which is different than college and high school, is health. You're talking about playing 20 games when you include the preseason before you get to the playoffs, so certainly if you're in November and you're healthy and you get hot, you have a chance to ascend and that's where we want to be. We want to be in the hunt in November every year and hopefully one of those years if we're healthy enough and we get hot, we will ascend."</p> </blockquote> <p><!--more-->Rebuilding the offensive and defensive lines has been the presumed priority, and the way Smith talked about the line it sounds like we are on target with that thinking.</p> <blockquote> <p>"I don't think you can ever be strong enough in the offensive and defensive line depth-wise. That's one area, and I've said this before, I think you build a team from the inside out. You certainly have to have the people up front on both sides of the ball that can play downhill, that can help you win football games, again in late November and December and hopefully into the playoffs. From my standpoint too I certainly feel strong about those two positions because myself as a player, as a coach, those were areas that I had my hands on and I know the importance that winning starts up front."</p> </blockquote> <p>More specifically about the team's priorities and what it went through on the offensive line with injuries:</p> <blockquote> <p>"The first thing we have to fix is protecting the quarterback and I think you do that by fortifying your offensive line so you can run the ball better. Something that was our strength two years ago this past year due to injuries up front became an Achilles heel to us and I have all the confidence in the world in what we're doing as a coaching staff. We just have to put healthier players on the field and some of that you don't have control over. So God willing, we'll have an opportunity next year and in the coming years to be a healthier football team than we were this year."</p> </blockquote> <p>With what amounts to the final say on the roster, he was asked if he ranks as one of the most powerful GMs in the league considering how many coaches dictate on personnel.</p> <blockquote> <p>"I wouldn't use the word 'powerful' but I would use the word 'meaningful.' I think in my defined role I should know the players the best and with the staff that I have that I feel very confident in, if you trust the tape and you do the work, you certainly are not going to bat a thousand but I hope to bat better than any good batting average. We are dealing with human beings so there is a calculated risk in every decision you make but it's my job and the staff's job to reduce the risk in the pick. And when I say ultimately I have the final say on the roster, when we're talking about the 53, we're talking about player movement. I certainly listen to the player personnel staff. I certainly listen to the coaching staff because Jack [Del Rio] and I have a very good relationship. We've been in this for six years together. He has a feel for player personnel. So it's rare where he and I have ever been way off base on things because again, if you do the work, unless there's something out of the norm, I feel like you can come to a good decision in the best interest of the organization."</p> </blockquote>

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