Couple of thoughts and wishes about the 2010 schedule

Although every NFL fan is most likely in “Draft Fever” let’s not forget that before Thursday there will be another very important event. Today; at 7 PM; the league will announce the 2010 NFL regular season schedule. We will know almost all the details about when and where the Jaguars will play. It is also a good time; to think about this year’s opponents as well. Let’s start with them.

Last year’s schedule was a very easy and manageable stretch. That was one of the reasons why the Jaguars were in the playoff race for so long. This year it will be different. It is a much harder schedule; especially I don’t like the road games; almost all of them! Let’s see who will the Jaguars face in 2010:

The Constant:

And of course the 1st mention is got to be the AFC South. Let’s face it; the Jaguars are in the toughest division of the AFC maybe; the entire NFL; and this is not a cliche. Every other AFC division has a weak team. AFC East: Buffalo; AFC West: Oakland; and Kansas City; AFC North: Cleveland. The Jaguars finished last in the division for the second time in 2 years. BUT this young team managed to be ranked 5th in the AFC after Week 14 in the playoff race.

I have a good and a bad news about our division. The good news is that the very young ’09 Jaguars finished 3-3; swept Houston; played 2 close games with current AFC champion Indy; and posted a blowout at home against the Titans. The only big negative was the ugly defeat against Tennessee after the bye week. Other than that; I must say the Jaguars did well enough with their very young team.

The bad news is; none of the other 3 teams seems to be weakening in this offseason so far. Houston lost Dunta Robinson; Indianapolis Ryan Lilja; and Tennessee Kyle Vanden Bosch; but I’m sure all of them will be replaced. The 3 other head coach stayed (dispite the black clouds for Kubiak and Fisher during last season) so I can’t see any reason or indication that they will be less dangerous and competitive then they were in 2009. In fact I don’t expect an 0-6 meltdown once again by the Titans. But every year if you want to play in January you must beat your divisional opponents. I really hope the Jaguars can at least repeat last year’s results; because that will be key if this team dreams about the postseason.

The Variables:

The 2 divisions the Jaguars will face will be very hard NFC East and very tricky AFC West.

The West maybe the weakest division of the AFC; but don’t be fooled. I think the 2 road trips will be extremely hard. Kansas City, thanks to GM Scott Pioli, is on the rise in my opinion. It would be great if the Jaguars could face them in the middle of the schedule just like last yearbecause I think until then we will know that they are pretenders or contenders for 2010. I have issues with San Diego, they must draft well because I think they are weakened a little. On the other hand, the game will be played in the West Coast and we all saw how “good” the Jaguars traveled and performed over there in ’09. The 2 home games might be a little bit easier. I don’t know what it is with Denver; but so far I see their head coach Josh McDaniels as a destroyer instead of a builder. They lost Jay Cutler; and now Brandon Marshall and Tony Schefler; I think their super opening record in ’09 was overperforming. I don’t know what they are capable of this year- although they still have a lot of talent. Oakland? Poor Raiders; if they had a real leader at QB; they would be a good team; because they have talent – especially on defense. But when Al Davis picks in the 1st round the way he did in the recent past; they have no chance. I think a home game against the Raiders in the first 4-6 weeks would be great for the Jaguars.

The other division the Jaguars is facing  maybe the second best behind ours, The NFC East. Which raises more questions lately. Here I see good and bad news for the Jaguars. The good news is; I see (maybe outside the Cowboys) no elite team in that group right now. The bad news is; I saw no weak team for this year either. Under GM Allen and new HC Shanahan; supported by new starting QB McNabb the Redskins looks all of sudden a team you must watch for. Funny; but last time when the Jaguars played the NFC East they lost  only to 1 team- the Redskins (Ironically the opposite QB was back then Jaguars best signal caller so far; Mark Brunell); so watch for these guys. Then the Eagles which is a team I think raises most of the questions. I think new starting QB Kevin Kolb will be not the answer just yet this season; I expect to see him having bad games in the beginning-another team I want to play against in the first half of the season. Well the Cowboys are looking right now the frontrunners for the best team of that division; the Jaguars will face them in Jerry Jones’s insane new stadium/palace. 105.000 people will be quite an interesting atmoshpere for a team like the Jaguars. Also sadly this year we will see -although I count the  “Jack” a good place to play (especially with Hungarian standards)- but in the new age of mega-arenas of the Cowboys and the Giants the JMS will look like an old place…

Speaking of the Giants; ex Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin must retool his team as well. They are still impressive with lot of talent; but last year something was functioning very badly especially in the end. We will see if Coughlin can turn it around or he will find the hot seat…

The 2 other variables (Buffalo and Cleveland) are both interesting teams. To be honest with you, I start to feel sorry for the Bills. They have play makers; no question but the offseason moves made by them so far makes me wonder. I think the fact they hired Chan (who?) Gaileyas there new head coach(After they contacted all the big name coaches without any interestin the job from Shanahan to Cowher) shows that it is not a very popular job (and I think that is the same reason; that keeping head coach Jack Del Rio at least for one more year was a smart choice; because I don’t think the Jaguars could have hired a better caliber coach then Gailey either…) I think the Bills and the Jaguars are sitting in the same boat in lot of issues…

They have major issues at QB; and they looking toward instead of Clausen to Tebow more and more. I think that Bills team might be the easiest trip of 2010; especially if the game will be played (as it rumoured) in Toronto.

Cleveland in the other hand looks like on the rise with new President Mike Holmgren. They have 12 draft picks; they can do anything in this draft; there off season moves were brave and bold. If they can find a good QB (I talking about Jimmy Clausen or even Bradford?…) and draft wisely; then they can surprise teams even like us. Although I still think that they have a bad head coach…

The Wishlist:

So these are the opponents right now; couple of days before the draft. Let’s see what I would like to see in the Jaguars schedule in 2010. I want 1-2 easier opponents at the first 4 weeks. Give us Oakland at home; maybe the Bills away. I would like to play with Houston first from the division; most likely at home! I want to see playing against Philly and Washington around the middle of the season. I want a late December matchup against the Colts at home. I want to see 2 primetime games this year. 1 will be most surely given- I bet the Jaguars-Colts will be played in Thursday night late in the season on NFL Network; (the TV station who are actually observe Jacksonville; and respect the fans of the Jaguars). Despite that; I want a game either Sunday or Monday night. I think the Giants; Eagles; and Redskins could be all teams I would love  to see face- to-face in primetime EARLY in the season. I want no trips to the freeze this time. I think the Jaguars are not the team who can fight in the cold right now; which was one of the big advantage of them between 2005-2007; so please no Giants; Chiefs; and Bills games (If that will be played in Buffalo – If it will be played in Toronto under a dome- then bring it!) in December! I want that road trip to the west coast around late October/ early November; so the Jaguars will be a more mature team then compared to an early trip to San Diego in September.

So within a couple of hours we will see if my wishes coming true or not. Until then we can all make our dream schedule scenario. After the league will announce it; I will plan to do a recap and some quick thought about the new schedule; so stayed tune and come back later to Black & Teal to read about it!

Zoltan Paksa

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