I woke up at 4:30am this morning to start my normal day. I began to ponder what it would take for the Jaguars to earn the respect of the town in which they play, let alone the national media. It's easy to cast stones from afar, since I live in Pennsyltucky (read: rural Pennsylvania) , where to get into a bar, it requires a 3 tooth minimum. However, I guess you can say that it is hard to comprehend the fact that this team is doing better than most have ever dreamed of, and still has not warranted a curious glance from its own hometown.
With the off season came numerous changes that has caused a ripple effect in a league where the Jaguars were not given any consideration to make the playoffs. Yet, here we are in the thick of the hunt, and no one's paying attention. To be honest, I LIKE IT! What I don't like is the continued disinterest from the town of Jacksonville. Now don't get your panties in a bunch because blackouts are not the subject of this post. We've all heard it before, and there is no need to continue kicking a dead horse.
Those changes have not only been limited to the off-season, but during the season, and even as recently as last week. The pick up of Torry Holt has dramatically changed the face of our receiving corps, and the addition of Mike Thomas, Jarrett Dillard, Nate Hughes, and Zach Miller have helped the Jags to see an extraordinary return on investment. Marcedes Lewis has emerged nicely into what was foreseen of him coming out of college, and Mike Sims-Walker has exploded onto the scene. One could say that with Tiquan Underwood on the practice squad, and the group we've got this year, that our WR's are no longer a problem.
Continuing with the offensive theme, we have seen our OL improve immensely as well. LT Eugene Monroe has cemented his role on the line, and the addition of RT Eben Britton has been nothing short of spectacular. The middle of the line has left much to be desired as of late, but again, this really is a year in which we are rebuilding. Did you get that!? We're REBUILDING! By looking at our record, it does not look like rebuilding, but by watching the games (which not many are) it is definitely rebuilding!
Now for the D! With the addition of Dereck Cox at CB many questioned why would we trade next year's 2nd to take a no-name player in the 3rd this year. Well, needless to say, Gene Smith knows what he's doing. Cox's play has been very good, and this past week showed how well he has progressed since the beginning of the season. You may say that he got burned last week against Andre Johnson for a 53 yd bomb. I say look again, and the tape shows Reggie Nelson giving top side help. Johnson runs right by Nelson which is not supposed to happen when you bracket a receiver.
"Terrance meat Byron, Byron meet Terrance! We call him 'Pot Roast'; he likes his meat and potatoes."
Then there's the Roast in the Pot. That's right! Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton. What a find in the 3rd round! He has brought such an impact to the DL that Big Hen has started to look like his old self. Derick Harvey has been constantly disruptive, and although he was not listed as getting a sack until last Sunday, he has looked very good! Quentin Groves...not so much. Although I will say that Q looked very good this past Sunday, and it seems that his time in the film room is starting to show some dividends. Let's hope for continued success.
The LB corps started out average at the beginning of the season, but since the shift in defensive philosophy to a strict 4-3, they have been on fire! We have not allowed a 100 yd rusher since the Tenn debacle. With big bodies up front it allows our LB's to do what they do best! Pursue and HIT! With the addition of Russell Allen and Brian Iwuh filling in when Justin Durant was out. Our LB's are looking very good!
The DB's have of late been spectacular. Sean Considine has been a heckuva pick up from the Philadelphia Eagles. Tyronne Brackenridge, and Gerald Alexander have been great as well! The hit Gerald Alexander put on the Texans Alexander was vicious, and reminded me of when Donovan Darius roamed our backfield. In other words, cross the middle if you dare, but know you will get hit! Reggie Nelson has left much to be desired this season, but is playing well enough to keep his job.
Now, I don't expect to get any respect from the national media. How can we? We have been the bane of the NFL's existence with all of the blackouts, and no-name players that have been mentioned in this post. However, there was a time when the Jaguars had a bunch of no-name players, and went on to Denver, and shocked the would be Superbowl Champions. They were the #1 seed in the AFC, and looked to win handily. But, towards the end of the game Jimmy Smith ran a fade pattern to the corner of the endzone, and Mark Brunnell threw a perfect ball as Jimmy caught it to take the lead, and sealed the game making for one of the biggest upsets in playoff history!
Who's to say that same thing can't happen again? I know one thing, the national media is not talking about us, and what's even worse is that our town of Jacksonville isn't either. Some in Jacksonville are probably saying..."Who are the Jaguars?" But, in the immortal words of Jimmy Smith after that spectacular game against the Broncos, he said, "If you don't know, then you betta ask somebody!"