Jaguars in London: Terrible showing offers huge opportunity

Charlie Crowhurst

The Jaguars have been given a global spotlight with their four-year series in London and a lopsided loss on Sunday presents a golden opportunity for the team.

The 1995 Jacksonville Jaguars weren't very good. Granted, they weren't on the winless path that the 2013 Jaguars currently are, but the expansion team finished 4-12 with losing streaks of four and seven that buried the team in the standings.

One year later the Jaguars struck gold with a five-game winning streak to end the season that sent the team to the playoffs where an upset victory over the Denver Broncos landed the Jaguars a spot in the AFC Championship Game. The gritty underdogs rallied the entire city of Jacksonville and made the Jaguars one of the most exciting, young teams in the NFL.

The luster of a new franchise in the city has since faded and long era of mediocrity has made the Jaguars the NFL's least popular franchise, which makes an attempt to grow the brand on a global scale a perfectly logical one. But the reality is that a 42-10 loss in London isn't going to sway the popularity much.

However, the loss does present a golden opportunity.

Over 80,000 fans packed Wembley Stadium on Sunday to watch the Jaguars at rock bottom. They watched a team at Step 1 of a rebuilding process that will take some time.

While it remains to be seen if Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell will be able to create a winning team in Jacksonville, those same London fans will undoubtedly see growth in 2014. And hopefully even more growth after that.

Ideally, the London fans, whom the Jaguars have exclusive marketing rights to, will watch the Jaguars grow from the doormat of the NFL to a postseason contender in the team's four year series at Wembley Stadium.

It's impossible to know if the fans will embrace a team making that kind of transformation, but if there was ever a way to foster a fanbase, watching a Bad News Bears-type team become a contender in only a few years would seem to do the trick.

Of course, the fostering of a fanbase in London isn't going to directly relate to a ticket spike at EverBank Field, but a boost in popularity of the team certainly would. And that's the opportunity that is now at hand with a stage like Wembley after suffering a lopsided defeat on Sunday. The chance to put a global spotlight on a rebuild that hopes to make the Jaguars a contender.

Obviously, that's easier said than done, but the stage has been set. It's now all on Dave.

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