The preseason is upon us.
I've been in count-down-mode for the Jaguars and Dolphins game Friday Night at EverBank Field for a while now. I can't wait to be sitting there with thousands of other Jaguars fans, seeing live-action football for the first time in months. I'm sure many of you feel the same way. However, if you are planning to learn anything from what you see during these preseason games I think you're barking up the wrong tree. For once in my football-loving life I actually remember the previous preseason and how it burned me. It was a deep, deep burn.
Here are 5 things I will NOT be looking for in the preaseason:
1. How do the Jaguars match up against other teams?
I fall into this trap every year. Last year I was excited about how the Jaguars played against the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants in Preseason week 1. How about how they looked against the Saints? "Oh man! This team is so much better than last year!"
The problem with trying to glean anything from preseason matchups is that these games mean nothing. Really, nothing. Nobody knows this more than the best players in the league. Oh, the Jaguars looked good against Eli Manning? So what. He's not fighting for a roster spot. He's trying to avoid tearing his ACL.
2. Is the offense improved from last year?
Remember how much better the 2012 preseason offense looked than what we saw in 2011 under Jack Del Rio? How long did that last? I think the answer is "until halftime in week 1." Sometimes, offensive coaches try a lot of things in the preseason to see what works. Sometimes, defensive coaches hold things back in the preseason. Put those two things together and you might believe that your team is going to be radically improved on offense when they're really headed for the 32nd ranked squad in the NFL.
3. Are the players buying in with the coaching staff?
Last preseason, I was convinced that Mike Mularkey had every player behind him. I believed that there was an unstoppable force of positive energy in the locker room that would propel the team to victories on the field. The excitement after 3 preseason wins was palpable...I thought. Turns out that after things didn't go well for the Jaguars, it became evident that some players didn't like Mularkey. Some thought he was crazy.
4. Is Maurice Jones-Drew fully recovered?
I have faith in Jones-Drew. He is a special player who usually make good on his promises and personal goals. If he says he's ready to go, I tend to believe him. I'm just not going to use any preseason performance to validate this. I remember too well how good Rashad Jennings looked last year. He was recovered from his injury. He looked awesome. "Maurice Jones-Who?" some people were saying. I drafted him in my fantasy league. Then the regular season came....
Did I mention that I drafted him in my fantasy league?
5. Are the Quarterbacks progressing?
Let's face it. Neither QB has looked great in training camp so far. Maybe they come out on Friday night and set the world on fire. Maybe doubters become believers.
Good for them.
I was on the Blaine Train last year after the Saints preseason game. Let's just say that I'm not coming to the station this year until the regular season.
What will I look for?
Apart from all my cynicism, I am legitimately excited about coming to the game Friday night. Here's the things I can't wait to see:
The player intro video
The Jaguars in their new uniforms
The paint on the field
The Bold City Brigade section rocking
And most importantly....
An empty injury report
I do not need to see Cecil Shorts III, Eugene Monroe, Luke Joeckel, Maurice Jones-Drew, or even Ace Sanders and Denard Robinson take much if any action. Just don't let these guys get hurt. I'm willing to wait 4 more weeks for answers. A serious injury would take some wind out of my sails.
Now that I've got all that off my chest, I'm ready to enjoy this meaningless preseason.