It’s a mantra you heard from different members of the Jacksonville Jaguars staff and media on Friday afternoon following the last of the OTAs at the practice fields at TIAA Bank Field.
Three more days. Three more days of practice as the Jacksonville Jaguars meet on Tuesday for the mandatory minicamp and the last of the team’s preparations before the five-week layoff leading up to Training Camp. Drills and scrimmages have been tight, rigid and more intense than last season when head coach Doug Marrone led 90 players onto the field, with many not knowing what to expect in what was thought to be a season full of question marks.
Those questions were answered from the opening whistle. This was a team that had forged a new direction. That path has been followed this year, with more direction and more conviction.
As Corey Grant told me in Week 2 of OTAs, players know what is expected of them and he, along with the other 89 players in camp, are working toward one common goal – to get farther than the team did in 2017. If that’s the case and the Jaguars are successful, book your tickets to Atlanta for Super Bowl 53.
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When the Jaguars lost the AFC Title game, I felt pain as a fan. It’s hard sometimes separating the person who roots for the home team and the one who writes about them. I took the loss hard, like any fan would after 10 years of suck and nothing to show for it. This year, like the thousands of fans who will pack TIAA Bank Field (I am trying to get used to writing that), I want this team to win and get past the Patriots. This is still a solid team. OTAs were just the start.
As head coach Doug Marrone said, there is still plenty of work today. While he and the coaching staff are working to get the players ready for 2018, the thought of 2017 still lingers, as defensive coordinator, Todd Wash touched on in one of his press conferences and kicker Josh Lambo told me the other day in a post-workout interview.
If you talk to punt returner Jaydon Mickens, he knows there is plenty of competition at wide receiver and the special teams units should much be much improved.
While everyone talks about the Jaguars’ defense, which was very good last season, they tend to forget about the offense, which was fifth in scoring last year. The running game should be stout once again. The passing game should be better with additions at wide receiver. The offensive line still needs to prove it is better than last season.
There are still questions about who the third starting linebacker will be and if the secondary will be even better than last season with two All-Pro players at cornerback.
Wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell preached he is teaching his group to be better players and to excel at there position. If the former Jaguars stat cannot catch footballs anymore, he can surely help this team do so in OTAs.
While there is some anticipation of for this week – a short one for the players and the local media – I am still excited about what’s to come. The idea of this team, as a fan, being a Super Bowl contender, is a far cry from what I have been used to. Now, I must put away my fandom for the next six or seven months. Things are about to get real around here in Jacksonville.
Now that OTAs are over, it’s time to take the next step in the march toward the Jaguars’ regular season.