One question was posed to me more than any other during the 2008 season.
“What went wrong?”
Some blamed David Garrard, the wide receivers, the defense being soft, the coaches, locker room chemistry. When your ship starts to sink as quickly as the Jaguars’ did last year, it is hard to find a captain to go down with it. Fingers were pointed at everything and everyone. I’m sure if you looked hard enough you’ll be able to find some one on the internet who blames the Jaguars’ failure on the conservative outfits of the cheerleaders.
If you asked fans then what the future of the franchise would be you would only get a response full of doom and gloom. That was in December.
It is now May. Hope has seeped into the minds of fans everywhere. Gene Smith is amazing. Did you see that draft? Our prayers have been answered. Derek Cox is going to lead us to the Super Bowl one pick at a time.
That is… until August comes around and the first preseason game is knocking at the door. Suddenly the mini-camp and training camp super stars falter against men bigger, faster and more talented than them. The fan barometer switches into panic mode and all is lost because Cox was smoked by some back up wide receiver on the Dolphins.
So what is a realistic expectation for the Jaguars?
They could make the playoffs if luck goes their way.
It is very true that the Jaguars seemingly helped themselves in the off season thus far. Torry Holt is a star player. Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton can only help the offensive line. However, they also lost Fred Taylor. Maurice Jones-Drew is a phenomenal player but there is still a nagging question: can he carry the load himself? Then you have to ask about Garrard. Was that first year a fluke and the second year a real showing of his talent? Or is the other way around?
The season ahead is not a walk through the park. The Jaguars have patched up some shaky areas but their list of needs is still too long to make a safe bet on them making the playoffs. Sure, they have guys at the offensive line. They have a wide receiver in Holt. They have Garrard.
What happens if Garrard gets hurt? The Jaguars have absolutely no depth at quarterback. If Holt turns out to be wash up, there is hardly anyone on the roster that could help carry that load.
Those are hurdles the Jaguars will have to overcome in order to get to the playoffs. They can do it if things go like they’re planned. If Garrard returns to form. If Holt provides the offense with a weapon. If the defense can stand up to the pass game. If Jones-Drew can carry the load by himself.
It is a whole lot of ifs but in the world of controlled chaos that is professional football, having luck on your side is sometimes all you need to see those ifs turning into reality.