The Jaguars face an uphill battle to gain the confidence of their fans. Don't mistake me, I'm not referring to loyalty or passion, merely confidence. The type of confidence that a Ravens fan may exude when beaming about the Ravens' defense over some brewski's at the local pub. You know? The type of confidence Packers fans display with a smile when they pretend to put on a wrestling belt, because, well, they have "The Man" at QB.
We know the story: The Jaguars tried to be awesome and the got close back in 2007. A few big contracts and a Gene Smith hiring later and we have the next phase of Jaguars. This group hasn't lived up to expectations. They've built slowly--which fans knew would happen-- and they've lacked blockbuster appeal, which one can mainly attribute to the lack of presence in the playoffs. A top-10 pick at QB later and things seem worse, but are they?
At present, the Jaguars offer the reigning rushing champion in the league, a fullback that might be one of the best all-time Jaguars, a rookie wideout that might be in the group of "Best All-Time WRs to play in the NCAA" and a left tackle that subsists to be top-5 in the entire league.
The offensive line, unfortunately, went through a bevy of injuries during training camp and the week 1 loss to the Vikings, then the team worked constantly to get guys healthy and back in the line-up. They look to have RT Cameron Bradfield back in action against the Colts this week, which will assist the offensive performance tremendously. Bradfield stands out as one of the better values ever picked by GM Gene Smith. If you're not aware, let me remind you. Bradfield came in undrafted and now starts. This isn't out of desperation, Bradfield starts as a result of sheer talent. Granted, he is young and not terribly proven, but just watch the difference he makes when healthy and starting, it's quite stark in contrast.
On defense, the Jaguars have a guy that might be the best OLB in the league (in regards to the 43 defense) to pair with a MLB that could go down as the top free agent signing in team history, because....well, he's awesome, even if he is overcompensating to start the season due to injuries across the defense.
The Jaguars also boast a well-founded attempt at building a pass rush. The unfortunate end is that the pass rush group, fondly called "Rush Men" by defensive line coach Joe Cullen (one of the best in the league), needs to develop, but that's expected. Rookie DE Andre Branch and former UDFA DE Aaron Morgan have outside speed. veteran DE Jeremy Mincey sports the most as far as a total package, DE Austen Lane continues to show that his play is necessary for this team as he continually makes a presence in run-defense.
With CB Derek Cox, the Jaguars defense consists of a secondary that can play well enough to hang with any offense in the league. This defense is very, very good and will continue to get better as the younger players develop and CB Aaron Ross familiarizes himself with the nuances of the the team/scheme. A good example resides in the development of CB William Middleton, a very solid 5ht-round pick with 4.4 speed that continues to play well in coverage.
Jaguars Fans, there are plenty of games left and plenty of positive things left to see. The Jaguars probably won't win the Super Bowl this year but it's too early to give up on a positive season or even playoffs. Let's just look past the first two games and start fresh.
The Colts are not a great team and the Jags have been absolutely, without question, decimated by injury through the first two games. I don't see how those two should count as a fair barometer toward the team's talent/expectations. Guys are coming back from injury and this team is ready to get in a groove. The season starts fresh Sunday and I'm looking forward to it.
We have had patience for many years, and for some of us...time is up. I hope that for most of us, we can see what is in the process of developing in front of our eyes. Let's be patient this season, these guys can play well. The whale is not on the beach.