I am a regular reader of Ask Vic over on Jaguars.com, I would assume that most people on BCC are, and I always enjoy hearing Vic's insights into the NFL and its teams. One of the questions from today's "Ask Vic" really caught my attention and I thought I would pose a question to my fellow BCC readers:
Jeff from New York, NY
All reasonable Jags fans should be delighted with the Jags’ position right now. Let us not forget that this is a rebuilding year and with five games to go they are neck and neck with the Colts. Think back to our expectations before the year. We all would have made a deal to be in this position this late in the year.
Vic: You’re right on every count but I think this has stopped being a rebuilding year. I’m sensing development in young players and in the team in general that has the team a little ahead of schedule and allows me to move it out of the rebuilding category and into the contender category. I could be wrong about this but I’m getting a strong feeling that the finish to this season could resemble the finish to the 2007 season. It was a strong running game and an efficient quarterback that powered that December drive in ’07 and I see those same ingredients in this team now. My main concern continues to be on defense, just as it was in ’07. I’ve adjusted my expectations upward.
Vic thinks the Jaguars are wavering just below the level of being a major contender. Now I don't know that I can wholeheartedly agree with that statement, but I must admit, sometime between the Dallas game and the Houston game, I began to get the sense that I had underrated this team, that the Jaguars were somehow better than the stats showed and better than they had played up until that point:
The team has a few "big names": Maurice Jones-Drew is an established household name, and David Garrard, along with Marcedes Lewis, are beginning to establish themselves as players whom other teams must respect when facing us. The Jags have good, young talent up front on both sides of the ball, and are currently at the top of the AFC South standings.
Of course, the Jaguars have weaknesses also. Their total offensive and defensive yardage rankings are in the bottom half of the league. The team has struggled with consistency and has an alarming -13 turnover ratio. Most importantly, Jacksonville's secondary has allowed the 6th most yards in the passing game this season in the pass-happy NFL.
With all of these things in mind, can the Jaguars be considered a "contender?" Right now I don't know that I have an answer, but at the very least I'd like to pose the question.