The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

January 8, 2013

Jaguars hire Falcons' Caldwell as general manager

(Continued)

Khan fired general manager Gene Smith last week, parting ways with the guy who built a team that failed to make the playoffs the last four seasons.

Smith had been with the team since its inception in 1994, working his way up from regional scout to general manager. He had been GM since 2009, compiling a 22-42 record. Not one player he acquired made the Pro Bowl, though.

Smith changed the way Jacksonville approached personnel moves. He made character as important as ability, but it never paid off the way he envisioned.

Finding talent was the main issue.

Smith whiffed on offensive tackle Eben Britton (39th overall pick in 2009), defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (10th pick in 2010) and quarterback Blaine Gabbert (10th pick in 2011). Smith traded up to select Gabbert even though several teams with quarterback needs passed on the former Missouri starter.

Smith's most controversial act came in April, when he chose punter Bryan Anger in the third round (70th pick). Anger was terrific as a rookie, but adding him never seemed like the best call for a team that needed talent and depth at so many other positions.

Equally alarming for Khan had to be Smith's penchant for overpaying in free agency: Torry Holt, Aaron Kampman, Paul Posluszny, Clint Session, Dawan Landry, Laurent Robinson and Aaron Ross.

Smith did hit on some players, including left tackle Eugene Monroe (eighth pick in 2009), cornerback Derek Cox (73rd pick in 2009) and receivers Cecil Shorts (114th pick in 2011) and Justin Blackmon (fifth pick in 2012). But none of those starters has become a star. And Smith gave up a second-round pick to get Cox and a fourth-rounder to trade up and get Blackmon.

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