The Jacksonville Jaguars made a lot of moves this offseason, probably more than most fans thought they would do. But one of the moves, which is completely off the field, kind of just passed by without much fanfare — and it’s probably best that it didn’t seem like a big deal, at least to the Jaguars faithful.
But owner Shad Khan knows how important it was.
Removing the tarps.
“I think it is absolutely, strangely enough, the most important thing because the look it gives us is not a good look for the city,” Khan said during the NFL meetings earlier this week. “It is not a good look for the Jags ... I will also share with you another revelation from me: energy in the stadium, the home field advantage. If you remember going back five years ago when we said we were going to be playing in London one game a year – it was amazing how our players didn’t have passports, even our mayor then did not have a passport. He didn’t realize until he got to London. It was that kind of experience. You come from that. We won. We won three games and one of those was London. I asked the players and last year, Tom [Coughlin] said, ‘I don’t know if we should be doing this [because of] the competitive advantage [of playing at home]. It was a great game for us, even with some of the stuff. What was the key last time? The stadium was packed and a lot of them were Jags fans.”
The atmosphere at EverBank Field, now TIAA Bank Field, this past season was incredible. For those who have been going to games for the past two decades, there was definitely a huge lull in the energy level until the past few seasons, capping this past season. The playoff game against the Buffalo Bills, in particular, was electric.
Khan thinks that energy has helped propel the team to wins, and packing even more fans in by removing the tarps should push them further.
“Then as the season went on we noticed some of the games, we did not have the energy in the crowd. I think there were a lot of games where we could have won, but we just didn’t have the people cheering us on,” Khan continued about the fan energy. “The Seattle game; I think Tom and Doug [Marrone] will tell you that if we didn’t have the crowd pushing us on, they put us over the edge. A key lesson for me is I don’t want to go back to when we don’t have a home-field advantage. That means no tarps, that means fans cheering the Jags on. I think it is a vital, vital competitive advantage.”
I’m not sure how much I attribute to the fans pushing them over the top, but during the Seattle Seahawks game there was definitely a point where you could feel the air sucked out of the stadium and a sense of dread. The team pulled it out however, so I guess I can’t really argue with his point.
Most fans have tuned out the noise, in regards to the jokes about tarps and everything, especially considering the Oakland Raiders have had an entire upper deck tarped off, but to have them completely removed definitely feels good. It won’t stop the “OH THEY HAVE FANS? ALL 5 OF THEM LOL” jokes, but that’s been coming from someone taking an L lately.