When Big Cat Country asked me what I wanted to write about, we discussed a sort of "silver linings" weekly where I would discuss that positive takeaways from Sunday’s game.
Well, it looks like that market is currently flooded.
Everywhere I look, even when I look at resident negative Jaguars fan @E_Dilla, there is someone finding the positives from Sunday’s game. And they are not wrong. There were many positives: Luke Joeckel looked good; defense played well against a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback; the offense looked competent and moved the ball like they did last season, if not in a more composed manor; Gus Bradley’s team appeared to be well prepared; etc... BUT WE STILL FREAKING LOST!
vic·to·ry: ˈvikt(ə)rē/ noun
an act of defeating an enemy or opponent in a battle, game, or other competition.
The Jaguars looked like what we expected them to look like. They looked like a talented, young team at the precipice of success - but not yet capable of being a team which does not define "victory" as something other than an actual victory. So, when they had a chance to defeat the lauded Green Bay Packers at home in 100 degree heat, the Jaguars lost. They are the still the Jaguars until they are not.
The defense on Sunday played well enough to keep us in the game. They held Aaron Rodgers to 199 passing yards, and kept him and Eddie Lacy in check for most of the game. But no one made THE play. No one got home and got the sack on third down. There was never "the second guy in" to strip the ball away and cause a fumble. No one tipped a ball in the air and allowed another to get an interception. No one made THE play on defense to win the game.
On offense, Blake looked in complete control. The line blocked okay, Yeldon ran hard, and the wide-outs (including Julius Thomas) were as expected - which is good. But no one made THE play. When Allen Robinson had a chance on a 50/50 ball in the end zone against a backup defensive back for the Packers, he lost. When Hurns had a chance to get a first down on fourth and one at the end of the game, he didn’t. When Allen Robinson got open on a double move earlier in the game, Blake overthrew him by about two yards. No one made THE play on offense to win the game.
Say what you want about the refs, and the play calling on fourth down, or whatever other scapegoat of your choosing. The fact is, the Jaguars played well enough to win the game, but they did not have anyone make the play to win it. Allen Robinson will be the fist to tell you he should have come down with the touchdown at the end of the game. If he is going to be an elite wide receiver in the NFL, he has to catch that ball. Hurns will be the first to tell you he should have gotten the first down. Prince was half a step short on the Jordy Nelson touchdown.
I will say it again, and paraphrase the late Dennis Green: The Jaguars are who we thought they were - a young, talented team that is close to being a good team, but which is not quite there yet.
If the Jaguars are going to take the next step in their maturation into a playoff team, then they have to start winning games. What we saw Sunday was in no doubt encouraging in the sense that they may get there sooner than later, but the fact remains that Jaguars are 0-1 ... again.
So as we turn our attention to San Diego, I think the consensus sentiment is that this is a game the Jaguars should win. In the sense that Jaguars fans used to approach games like this as games the team could win, I guess one could make the argument that progress has already been made.
But forget that. That talk is for losers.
If Sunday did anything, it increased my expectations for the Jaguars this week and beyond. I am mad as hell we lost a game to the Packers when we could have won. I am tired of losing. It is time to start winning.
A Week 2 game in the NFL is never really a "must win" but this one in San Diego on Sunday is close. If the Jaguars are for real, they need to beat a team they are better than; and by all indications from what I saw against Green Bay, the Jaguars should be the better team on Sunday (feels good to say it with conviction).
So let’s win, dammit.