1. I think that right now, the frustrating struggles we’re seeing on offense are keeping us from admiring what is a truly remarkable turnaround on defense. It’s an offensive league and the Jaguars drafted a rookie quarterback in the top 10 and had a highly publicized fallout with David Garrard just moments before the regular season began. That’s gonna turn some eyes towards the offense. But last year, fans and pundits were appalled at how soft and relenting our defense was – 28th in pass defense, 28th overall, and 30th in sacks after pledging to turn around the pass rush after the God-awful 2009 pass rush. The Jaguars defense was sieve and no one had trouble sleeping the night before playing us. With some infusion of free agent talent and some homegrown talent stepping up (Jeremy Mincey and Derek Cox especially), the Jaguars are one of the top 5 units in the league and are defending the pass and run with ferocity. 2. I think that help is not on the way for the Jaguars passing game. This is what Gene and Jack told us we signed up for when we drafted Blaine Gabbert – an extremely talent, yet very raw player with limited experience. He’s got a lot of fundamental flaws that aren’t improving as quickly as we’d all like and unfortunately, that’s going to take an offseason to start sorting out. Teams are simply too busy during the week installing game plans to have time to work on the fundamentals. And I don’t think I have to tell everyone that our receivers aren’t getting better…and WR coach Johnny Cox might be on the chopping block in January.
3. I think that even though we can’t help but get a glimmer of hope from Matt Schaub’s absence in Houston, it’s important to temper expectations. The Jaguars simply don’t have the offense to win six of our final seven games, which is probably the minimum it will take to win the AFC South. Our second half looks a lot less daunting than our first half schedule – which, now that we know who’s who in 2011, looks pretty horrifying in retrospect – and I think we’ll finish the season looking very much like a team on the rise. It’s almost impossible to ask fans to do, but I think right now we should keep an even keel about things and enjoy the little victories – enjoy every win we get, enjoy watching Blaine get better step by step, enjoy the defense’s return to a dominating presence, and enjoy Maurice Jones-Drew putting up a quietly absurd season, given the opposition he’s facing when teams know he’s our only weapon. Of course I still want it to happen and of course no one can stop me of daydreaming that the Jaguars pull the most absurd turnaround in recent NFL memory, but for now, I’ll be enjoying the little things.
– Andrew Hofheimer