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Jaguars vs. Titans: Player improvement more important than outcome

It’s time to start thinking long-term with the Jaguars.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

At the time of this article being published, the Jaguars are about four hours away from kickoff against the Tennessee Titans. Maybe you’re like me and you keep needing that reminder, because you just don’t have the excitement and enthusiasm you normally would for a Jags game, especially one in primetime. Simply put, the Jaguars are not very good right now. Some people are still holding out hope for a turnaround this season, but I think it’s time to start looking further ahead.

There are a few who will note that a win tonight against the Titans would put the Jaguars in 2nd place in the AFC South, and only one game out of first place, keeping them in true contention for the division crown and a playoff spot. They will also note that a win would put the Jaguars at a 2-0 record inside the division. While that may be factually true, have we seen anything to indicate that this Jacksonville team will make that kind of turn around, or even just win this game for that matter?

Look, I’m not going to sit here and tell you to root for a loss, or even saying that the Jags will definitely lose this game. Everyone likes to win, even when it’s a bad win, or doesn’t mean much for the team’s short-term future. If you still have hope, then it’s your right as a fan to keep cheering them on with all your might. I am not saying you have to accept that the Jaguars are bad and will lose every game. What I will say is that I think getting a win tonight is not the most important objective for the Jaguars. At the risk of sounding like Gus Bradley(vomits), the Jags biggest worry tonight, and for the rest of the season, should be getting better. I know that’s the mentality that has gotten them here so far, and it’s not one the team should continue pushing. But I’m pushing it from a fan perspective, because I’m 99% sure Gus Bradley is gone at the end of this season.

By getting better, I don’t mean just improving a little and keeping the status quo. I’m talking about the players performing at a level that shows they belong in this league. The chances of the Jaguars having a miraculous turnaround and making the postseason are slim. While that may be a bleak statement, what’s even worse is that there aren’t a whole lot of Jags who are playing near a level that would make you feel good about their future with the team. I have resigned myself to the fact that we won’t see the postseason this year; what I am not ready to accept is that this team’s talent level is near what they have demonstrated so far.

So that is what I’ll be looking for tonight, more so than a win. I want to see Blake Bortles get back to being close to the QB he was last year. I want to see Allen Robinson playing like the pro-bowler he was last season. I want to see Prince Amukumara bounce back from a tough game against Michael Crabtree. I want to see Allen Hurns return to form and start making plays again. I want to see our running backs and offensive lineman do SOMETHING in the run game. If you want people to stop doubting you, this is your chance to prove yourself, and an opportunity to do so on national television.

Will we see any of these things tonight? The past six games might indicate that we will not. However, maybe tonight can be the turning point for the Jaguars players getting back on track, and maybe they can show that they belong on this team moving forward. To me, that is the biggest concern with the Jaguars right now: do they have a talent level that they are underperforming?Are they capable of more under a different coaching staff? If they think they are, these players have to take charge and start proving it soon.

If they don’t, Gus Bradley may not be the only one leaving town after this season ends.