With all due respect, and I do mean all due respect, the Bills are bottom-of-the-barrel bad. No hopes. No dreams. Help is not on the way. They were completely outmatched by the Jaguars and it was a win we had to have and we won. Let’s take a look at what we learned…
1. The contrast between the Jaguars and Bills was a powerful illustration of the Jaguars recent ascension. The Bills are absolutely horrendous and it was a game we would have had no excuse losing, make no mistakes about it. But look at the Jaguars versus the Bills – a year ago, these teams were fairly equally matched. In 2010, Buffalo is at rock bottom and their fans have little to be excited about. On the other side of the field, it turns out the Jags didn’t need Timmy Tebow to excite the fans because they have a roster full of playmakers. Look at all the young stars on Sunday: Deji Karim, Mike Thomas, Terrance Knighton, Tyson Alualu, Eben Britton, Eugene Monroe, and a Derek Cox comeback – these are guys are thrilling to watch and still a few years before from their prime! That is a nucleus that fans can get behind for a long time to come.
2. This was a significant notch in the Jags’ belts. Again, Buffalo is bad. Very, very bad and with significantly less talent than the Jaguars. But to those who played sports growing up, think about a situation like that you’ve been in – playing against a team you know you should beat, a contest that you even made the mistake of letting yourself think will be an easy win. The game starts and your opponent came to play and play hard. They know they can’t afford to coast on talent and a full effort is the only way they’ll stand a chance. A few small errors or bad breaks later, you find yourself behind by a significant margin and the game has only just begun! All of a sudden, you are hunched over your knees, exasperated, wondering what in the hell has just happened. There are few moments in life more trying than this – I’m talking about real human emotion, here. You can’t believe what’s happening. You angrily lash out in your mind, trying to justify that you’re better and this is just dumb luck. Then you question if your team is as good as you thought you were. You point fingers. You curse. You trash talk your opponent, trying to put them back in their place. But that doesn’t change the fact that you’re in a hole and the only way out is to clear your mind, hunker down, and make it happen. Put it behind you, remember the game plan, and execute. Pro athletes aren’t immune to the same spectrum of emotions we all have felt playing sports. They get frustrated and they feel the pressure. For two weeks in a row, the Jaguars have found themselves in situations they had to fight to overcome. They looked themselves in the mirror, met the gaze of their reflection, and found the strength within to do what it took to get the W. I wrote after the Chargers game that the Jaguars had the right attitude this year, but they didn’t have the mental toughness to overcome major adversity because they hadn’t earned it yet. These last two games earned the Jags some stripes. They know they can stare down a team like the Colts and beat them with less than a minute on the clock. They know they can dig themselves out of a hole after some bad breaks. They know they can win the games they’re supposed to win. We know the Jaguars have potential. I think they might just be getting the experience it takes to consistently play at the height of that potential.
3. Josh Scobee is dominating his position at a level like no other player on the team. We always knew he had the boot and now he’s got the accuracy and crunch-time coolness that gives the Jags’ offense added scoring range and a significant advantage in close games. I can’t tell you what changed with Scobee during the offseason, but a kicker’s job may be the second most dependent on confidence next to the quarterback. He believes he can do it and he’s doin’ it.
4. Deji Karim is the offense’s X-factor. Sure is a lot easier to score over 30 points when you’re starting from midfield on every possession, huh? Tiquan Underwood did an admirable job filling in and had some big returns, but he needs big holes or a clear lane to the outside to get that done. There is just something about Deji Karim, the guy was made to return kicks. He has incredible control over his change of speed and such fluid movements and uses his small profile with extreme aptitude. Watch his highlights, Deji accelerates to hide right behind his blockers while looking up field for a seam and then BOOM! shoots through running lanes where there appeared to be absolutely nothing. Incredible.
5. The tides of the national media are turning. I’ve heard and read lots of good-natured, encouraging remarks about Jacksonville since the Indy win. Somebody pinch me! Could it really be true that winning solves everything? The two worst have been Don Banks and Peter King and each of them have been complementary of our turnaround and Jacksonville’s response to the team. This is the momentum we need, fans. Perception is reality and the more people that start believing that Jacksonville is a good football town, the sooner they call off the dogs. All we need is a little time – this weekend is extremely encouraging of Gene Smith’s ability to build a winning roster. This team will be a fierce contender before we know it. Let’s make sure that’s in Jacksonville.
As Terry said, the blood is in the water – let’s get amped for a hard-hitting, old school kinda game Monday night and remind these Tennessee fools how we do it in DUUUUUUUUVVVVAAAALLLLLL!!!!