League-Wide Hate? Check, Mate


Yesterday, you got the Black and Teal power rankings from our fearless leader, Mr. Sims.  Orthodox, he is not.  Whilst almost all football analysts continue to bow down to the hot-down-the-stretch Giants and the only-thing-that’s-less-important-than-an-offensive-line-is-a-running-game Packers, Mr. Sims gave the top spot to the team with the best combination of offensive and defensive firepower – the Baltimore Ravens.  Alas, this not a Ravens blog, and therefore we will leave jubilance for another day.  However, you can’t help but be a bit pleased when you see the ranking the Jaguars got in his power rankings.

A jump from 26th in the league (after the season’s end) to 17th in the league isn’t too shabby at all when you consider the (lack of) changes that were made in the offseason.  Aside from the hit-or-miss bonanza that is the NFL Draft, the Jaguars offseason moves were limited to signing a one-hit-wonder (as of yet) receiver and a perpetually overrated backup quarterback.  Moreover, the first two positions they drafted, wide receiver and defensive end, typically subject new post-collegiate athletes to a steep learning curve, limiting the amount they can contribute in year one.  Yet, the preseason has reminded us not to discount the potential for these rookies to contribute early and more importantly, the potential for current players to show significant growth.  Most important of these players is the newly anointed captain, Blaine Gabbert.  Given the preseason play of Gabbert, Rashad Jennings, and Jaguar rookies Justin Blackmon and Andre Branch, it’s easy to see why Mr. Sims (and Jaguar fans) is excited about the Jaguar’s prospects.

Yet, a brief glance around the league (the media league, that is) makes Mr. Sims look like the media’s version of Meg Griffin (lonely and all by himself).   The table below highlights the views of the national media on the Jaguars prospects.

ESPN29Maurice Jones-Drew could not run over the team’s new owner for a contract.
ProFootballTalk28Barring significant improvement, playing one game in London won’t necessarily be the best way to build a fan base there. Or anywhere.
National Football Post28MJD is back, but we are looking at QB Blaine Gabbert’s development is his second season.
ProFootballWeekly27Jacksonville has its Mojo back — but how soon will he be working?
CBSSportsline – Pete Prisco25Blaine Gabbert made strides in the preseason, but now comes the live bullets. If it carries over, they could be higher than this in a few weeks. Getting Maurice Jones-Drew back will help him.
Jaguars.com23Better than the analysts believe – but how much?

Clearly, the national media doesn’t feel nearly as strongly about the Jaguars’ chances as Mr. Sims does.  With an average rank of 28, national media seems to expect no improvement based on the moves the Jaguars have made.  In fact, they must expect the Jaguars to get worse, as it’s pretty unlikely that a 5-11 season will leave us as the 4th worst team in the league (last year the Browns and the Bucs were tied at 4th/5th worst with a record of 4-12).

Of course, there’re reasons to worry about the Jaguars’ chances to even improve this year.   Couple a QB who looked very raw last year with vast injuries along the offensive line, defensive line, and secondary, and you have a team that could very well play to a worse record than they had last year.  And that’s not even considering their star player holding out past the end of the preseason or the fact that these cobwebs of injuries and holdouts could make some winnable games at the beginning of the season (Vikings, Colts, Bengals) a bit more difficult.

So yeah, there’s legitimate concern.  But you know what?  There’s legitimate optimism too – even if you only place the mildest of stock into players’ preseason performance.   Because, as you might remember, the Jaguars defense and offensive line was decimated by injuries for much of last year too (especially the end); the Jaguars lost a couple of their best players towards the end of last season too; and who in their right mind really thinks that a rookie QB with no offseason and no training camp won’t improve by the end of his first full season?

As usual, the ignorance of the national media is front and center in its disregard for the Jaguars.  Just take a look at the first four set of comments in the above table.  Only one of them points to a true concern for the Jaguars (Blaine Gabbert’s development – National Football Post),  but National Football Post is so concerned that they actually think we’ll end up worse off this season than we were with a fresh-off-the-boat QB.   In my opinion, there are only three pre-season rankings that have been highlighted in this article that actually make sense – Pete Prisco’s cautious view, John Oehser’s uncertain view, and Mr. Sims’s optimistic view.   To the rest of the “analysts”, let me be the first to point out your negligence before the start of the season; when the Jaguars are 7-7 with two games left to go, my readers and I will be the first ones to laugh in your face.  Checkmate indeed.

— Zain Gowani