I didn't want to acknowledge the possibility that Blaine Gabbert was a bust or Gene Smith could be fired before the season started, but at 1-3, it's time to address that issue.
Gene Smith took over as the Jaguars' head personnel man following the 2008 implosion. Since then, the best the Jaguars have done was a near divisional title two seasons ago. Now in his 4th season as the Jaguars general manager, we have to wonder, why isn't this team better?
It's possible to trace the Jaguars' problems back to Smith's hiring as the Jaguars' general manager. That was following the Jaguars' 2008 debacle, and the Jaguars decided to blow it up -- kind of. Jack Del Rio held on to his job, probably because the 2007 Jaguars had been such a solid team. David Garrard also retained his job as the team's starting quarterback.
Last season, Jack Del Rio was fired (I still think he's a great coach, and this was probably the most pro-JDR blog out there until the bitter end), and Blaine Gabbert struggled to find any consistency or positive play. At the same time, Shahid Khan entered the picture, and a few months later, Mike Mularkey became Gene Smith and Shahid Khan's new head coach.
The whole point of this long-winded narrative is that the Jaguars never blew it all up at once, and with a first-year head coach, it's not likely going to happen this offseason either, but the Jaguars may get as close to a new start as they've had since Jack Del Rio and Byron Leftwich came to Jacksonville.
So, with the Jaguars at 1-3 and looking very poor, I have to ask, is it time to fire Gene Smith?
My answer is simply yes.
Since Smith took over, the Jaguars have not hit a home run with any draft pick, and they've yet to sign a truly blockbuster free agent to help the team. Smith may hit singles all day long in the draft, but the Jaguars need some big play makers, and they don't have them.
On the other side of the coin, Gene Smith has picked plenty of mediocre players, including Blaine Gabbert. I realize that it's still too early in the year to judge the Jaguars, especially a second year quarterback with his third head coach, but he really doesn't have much time left.
My gut feeling is that the Jaguars will move on from the Gene Smith era and the Blaine Gabbert era if things don't turn around in the next 12 games. It really makes no sense to fire a general manager before the end of the season, but if the Jaguars only put together five wins this year, it's hard to imagine Shahid Khan not finding his own general manager.
Blaine Gabbert is in the same boat as Gene Smith. With only five wins, the Jaguars would be in the running for a top quarterback prospect, and it's also hard to imagine the Jaguars sticking with Gabbert if he doesn't show great improvement over the next few months, especially if they hire a new general manager.
The Jaguars are just four games into the 2012 season, and it seems time to address some very interesting questions. Remember, the Bills showed great improvement over the course of Mike Mularkey's first season with the team as their head coach, especially on offense. It will probably take that type of improvement to save Gene Smith and Blaine Gabbert's jobs. Otherwise, it's time to blow it up -- kind of.