It doesn't make sense to some people.
Why are Jaguars fans so excited about this season? The team just came off the worst performance in franchise history in 2012. There were no earth-shattering free agent acquisitions. The same quarterbacks that looked so disappointing last year will be battling for the starting job again this year. Sure, the draft class is exciting. Many fans and experts think it may be a good class, but no team counts on rookies for a big turnaround.
So what's different?
It reminds me of 1995. There was no doubt that the team would be bad but the fans were pumped up about the inaugural season. This season feels new as well. There is a lot of "newness" to enjoy-- new General Manager, a new coaching staff, new players. They have brought a different approach to how the team operates. But being new isn't enough by itself. The new Jaguars are selling something to the fans they haven't had in a while.
"I sell hope, kid."That's what Art Modell would tell me, regarding his role as owner of the Cleveland Browns and then the Baltimore Ravens. Giving fans hope, giving them a competitive team and, most importantly, giving them a good show -- these things were extremely important to Art.
I'm not talking about hope for this season necessarily, but hope for the future of the franchise. Hope was not around here in abundance during the last few years. It wasn't easy to feel good about tarps going on the seats in 2004. It wasn't easy to hope after the bottom fell out of the franchise in 2008 and fans saw Del Rio and Garrard with expensive, long-term contracts. It wasn't easy to hope with the stress of blackouts in 2009. The quarterback situation has seemed hopeless for a long time.
What's giving us hope?
For me it's the feeling that Shad Khan has put the right people in place to lead the organization. The business side of the Jaguars under Mark Lamping has been very active. Stadium upgrades, caravans and other special events have really engaged the fans. Dave Caldwell seems to be operating with a clear vision of the type of players he wants on this team and to be in concert with Head Coach Gus Bradley. Anyone that's met Bradley seems to catch some of the energy and excitement that he carries around with him. I love the speed that the team has added through the draft this year.
But that's just me.
Are you buying? What's giving you hope?