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Mumblings of the Village Idiot: The Patriot Games

Does one approach such a game as a Stoic or raving lunatic?

I have debated how to approach this weekend’s game against the New England Patriots. Leaning heavily on Stoicism, I have attempted to see the game as simply a reality birthed by past actions. To not let myself become overwhelmed by passions. Reason tells me we not only control how we perceive the world, but also how we react to it. When misfortune befalls us we do not lament what we did not get, instead we accept the reality and see it as opportunity.

“If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but your own judgement of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgement now.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Easier said than done.

When Blake Bortles’ 4th down pass to Dede Westbrook was knocked away by Stephon Gilmore, the high I had been riding since days before the game ended with a snap of the hangman’s noose. I stood on my back porch, firmly committed to the fact the best team did not win. Married to a 2018 season where Brady would show his age, the Patriots roster would show its cracks, and the playoffs would not contain this New England team.

When the 2018 schedule came out, I vowed to myself that we would watch the Jaguars retire Brady as they retired Dan Marino back in 1999. I was in pain.

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will. ” ― Epictetus

Myles Jack wasn’t down. Barry Church did not target Rob Gronkowski. The officials unfairly called penalties on the Jaguars. The officials missed so many penalties by the Patriots. All of these things are realities that exist as things we cannot change. Some make great shirts (and banners to fly over the stadium), but the truth is that they are excuses.

There are replies to these. The Jaguars did nothing with the Jack fumble recovery. The coaching staff opted to kneel with enough time at the end of the second quarter to get in field goal range. The Jaguars went soft in the 4th quarter. The 21 yard Amendola catch on 3rd and 14.

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” ― Epictetus

We must expect more from the players. It is their role to forget that fateful day in Foxboro, while being motivated by the goal of getting home field advantage for the playoffs, and win the Super Bowl. Stoicism is for them. For them, passion, as defined by the Stoics, leads to penalties.

For the fans, Stoicism is boring. The very nature of the game is beyond our power. I do not want the past to cease disturbing me. To this day I hate 1999 (not the Prince album...that is a work of art), but it drives my love for the rivalry with the Tennessee Titans.

Epictetus’ last quote is something to embrace. It is how we react to Myles Jack not being down that matters, and how we see our visitors as the “Cheating Pats”. We are here to be entertained, and if that means ignoring what our team controls, and blaming their fate on someone else, then lets embrace it.

This is the very nature of being a fan.

Mumble 1

We have benches built into our back deck. I stood upon one of those benches as Blake let that 4th down pass fly. At no point did I think Gilmore would get to it. I saw Westbrook effortlessly grab the ball from the air and walk, untouched, into the end zone, though if he does catch he is probably down inside the five yard line

It was to be Blake’s moment in the spotlight.

In a recent interview, Gilmore shared his thoughts on the play. It was something he had seen on film, and it was a formation the Jaguars showed earlier in the game. On the latter, Dede ran a short route, but with limited time on the clock, Stephon knew the Jaguars receiver was going deep.

“It was fourth-and-15. He had to go deeper. I kind of knew where he was going. Playing corner, you know the down and distance, so I study that. The only thing you can do is kind of anticipate it, read his mannerisms of how he’s coming off the ball. If you anticipate the route and you know the route, it’s what you believe that allows you to play fast and make plays.”

Westbrook has enough space to make the completion possible. However, Gilmore launches himself into the air, gets vertical, and his timing is perfect. Maybe Blake could put more air under the ball, but as it goes, Dede is not breaking stride to catch the ball, and I find it insulting to lay blame at the feet of Bortles instead of giving credit to Gilmore.

This is the play that haunts me. Aside from everything that happened, the Jaguars had the ball and the chance to win.

Maybe it haunts me because the underneath route looks to be open enough to get the first down, but Bortles does not appear to check.

Mumble 2

Watching the open scrimmage this offseason, I was chatting with my friend about how undisciplined scrimmages were under Gus Bradley, a strong commentary on how awful the culture within the club had become. I wondered how a player like Paul Posluszny survived under Gus’ leadership.

It was not unlike trying to survive a UCLA Bruins football season with Jim L. Mora jr in charge. Under his watch, Mora led a team that consistently found themselves committing high volumes of costly penalties. Myles Jack was one of the players who was unable to manage his physical play.

A PFF scouting report noted this as a negative, highlighting of Jack was flagged for 11 penalties in 1,277 snaps over the past two seasons, which all linebackers in 2014 and 2015.

For Myles Jack to be an impact player he had to mature within a system that required him to play with focus. I am not convinced he could ever realize his full potential without having a Posluszny to mentor him.

Poz’s presence will surely missed. While his legacy as seen through those he inspired lives on, his absence from this weekend’s matchup may benefit the Jaguars in one important aspect. Pass coverage.

Mumble 3

I am ok with everyone overplaying this game. Yeah it is a revenge game. Yeah it could play out to be critical for home field advantage. Yeah we are “THE” national late game.

I get it, but if you roll off 14 straight wins after this loss who really cares.

What I am not ok with is Donte Moncrief’s lack of effort to break up the Bortles interception against the Giants. I am relative certain I can only get over this by Moncrief being the offensive player of the game this weekend, and even then I might still hold a grudge.

Seriously, when I watched that, the ex-Jaguars that popped into my head was Hugh Douglas. A guy just out there to get his paycheck.

Mumble 4

If you do not do Twitter then you are probably unaware of @BortlesFacts. It is quite possibly the last good thing on this planet.

Need evidence?

Mumble 5

@BortlesFacts is so important that @NFLTotalAccess decided to chime in with some facts that relate to how well the Jaguars performed last season without Leonard Fournette. While this may give us a modicum of confidence, we can probably all agree success versus the Colts, Bengals and Texans is a far cry from the Patriots.

Mumble 6

Dante Fowler is back, and his memory of last year’s playoff game against the Patriots comes with a three tackles and two sacks. If we applaud the discipline of Jack we must surely lament the immaturity of Fowler. He has vowed to change our perception of him, noting how this suspension reminded him how much he loves football and that he does not want to lose this career.

Fowler has been fairly criticized for lacking the work effort displayed by Yannick Ngakoue, and it is something that has hurt him on and off the field. Dante tends to favor a personality that lends itself to flash, and you can expect to see it on the field this weekend when he sports his shiny mouth grill. Fowler claims he wears it to reflect a specific personality.

If you can back up the ego, like Jalen Ramsey, you are loved. If you implode, you are a virus. If Fowler needs a particular ego to excel on the field, then wear that grill. The team needs his talent, and this is the stage to show he can be the franchise player he envisions himself to be.

Mumble 7

Alfie wrote a nice piece about why Corey Grant was not used in the Giants game, arguing that Grant finds success in specific formations. With Fournette out, Corey in the backfield showed the Jaguars hand, allowing the defense to anticipate where the ball is going.

My problem with the argument relates to what the Jaguars are unable to do. Execute. If Fournette is required to be surprise with Grant, that tells me either the coaching staff is not being creative, and\or the other 10 players are not capable of executing.

Alfie’s right in saying Corey Grant is not Chris Thompson or Darren Sproles, but Grant has shown the ability to make plays, and if you liked him enough to keep him on the roster as your third back you should have a variety of formations that leverage his talent.

Mumble 8

If you buy into the Houston Texans defense once again being near the top in the league now that J.J. Watt is healthy, then how confident are you the Jaguars can stop Brady? The Patriots offense line limited the impact of Watt, Jadaveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus, who together they accounted for six tackles and two quarterback hits (all by Watt).

The Patriots come into this game with a running back corps incapable of presenting any real running threat. The promise of wide receiver Phillip Dorsett awoke last week, giving Brady another weapon in his quick release arsenal. So how do we interpret this matchup after one game?

I think the Texans are old, and any attempt to compare them to the Jaguars leans heavily on an outdated brand. Be optimistic the Jaguars offer much greater challenge.

If you want even more confidence, consider how well the Texans ran on the Patriots. Lamar Miller, Deshaun Watson, and Alfred Blue combined for 174 yards on 33 carries. I am not convinced we will need a special package for Corey Grant, T. J. Yeldon, and Blake Bortles to at least equal that stat line. If Fournette is healthy enough to play, you have to believe we are looking at 2-0.

Mumble 9

I reached out to the Jaguars organization earlier this week with the hope of doing an article on a Vietnam War veteran who will be recognized during the 1st quarter in the Grunt Style Terrace. Unfortunately they never got back to me.

The veteran is an ex-POW, Dale Raebel, who spent time in the Hanoi Hilton. He is the father of my friend Steve Raebel who is the “Wasnt Down” in my “Myles Jack Wasnt Down” picture on my Twitter account. It is my understanding there will be an empty seat in the Terrace specifically representing POWs.

This is the press release as part of the game day information for fans.

During the first quarter, the Jaguars will honor retired U.S. Navy Captain Dale Raebel as the Veteran of the Game presented by Dr. Patrick Basile. During his more than three-decade career in the U.S. Navy, Captain Raebel served our country with incredible valor and was once held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam for 225 days. The SunPass® Hometown Hero is Corporal Bill Eierman, a 16-year veteran of the Jacksonville Beach Police Department, who was recently wounded in the line of duty in early August. The First Data Veteran-Owned Business of the Game is Academy of Scholars, represented by their founder and CEO, former U.S. Army Specialist Shevonica Howell. The Navy Mutual Bell Ringer is U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Jason Francis who has spent a total of 47 months deployed overseas while serving our country on active duty. New this season, all military recognitions will be located at the all-new Camp Grunt Style, a military-inspired environment open to all fans on the north deck at TIAA Bank Field.

Mumble 10

I am proud of this tweet.

Mumble 11

Twitter used for good.