Hey Jags Fan – You’re a Sucker

Posted: August 12, 2011 in Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL
Tags: , , , ,

NFL fans – yeah, you – have been duped. I’ll go so far as to say they’ve been brainwashed – yeah, you too.

Because you love the NFL so much, the league’s powerbrokers have done a spectacular marketing job of convincing you the preseason exhibitions matter. They have sold you these glorified practices as real games. Because you want so badly to watch football they have partnered with ESPN to rope you in to believing this fraud is genuine.

It all started when the NFL owners begin including preseason exhibitions in their season-ticket packages. No discounts. You pay the same to watch the men wearing Jaguars uniforms against men wearing Patriots uniforms in a practice scrimmage as you do to watch the real Jaguars plays the real Colts in a game that could decide the AFC South title.

The NFL calls them preseason games and the media has gone along with the scam. Say exhibitions in front of Commissioner Roger Goodell and you’ll get a stern look in return. Maybe a lecture on how these are games played before the season. It’s probably a firing offense at ESPN for its gang of NFL analysts to make such a slip.

According to the NFL, the season begins with the first exhibitions. We’re told rookies – such as Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert – make their professional debuts in these exhibitions. We buy it at full price, lock, stock and barrel. Concessions and parking are full price, too. Imagine if any other sports tried to pull off such a trick. Think pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg made his Major League debut in a spring training game?

The NFL makes it look convincing. The players – nearly half of whom will be looking for real jobs come September – are in full dress. The stadiums are dressed to kill. Pregame and halftime shows are presented. The zebras are there and they’re serious.

At some point during the four-week exhibition season you’ll get a glimpse of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Lewis and other stars. Maybe even for a half in one or two scrimmages. But you’ll get a lot more of Brian Hoyer, Stephen McGee and Mike Hartline. (Check rosters of Patriots, Colts and Cowboys to find out who they are.)

You’ll see vanilla offenses and standards defenses. There won’t be any game planning. Strategy will not exist.

There will be plenty of hitting. That part is real. Young men who are desperate to play in the NFL will go all out. Understand teams begin the exhibition season this year with at many as 91 players each. For the real season, each team carries a 53-man roster. Do the math. As many as 38 players on each exhibition season roster will be back home selling insurance, driving a truck, doing a sports talk radio show and working at Home Depot when the real season starts. In the NFL you get to pay big bucks to watch dreams die.

Certainly the exhibitions are important. Necessary even. Players need practice, or reps as coaches and players like to say. They need practice against someone other than their teammates. Coaches need to see potential NFL players go against other potential NFL players.

I get it. I’m sure you do, too. I’m not trying to insult NFL fans. You know these exhibitions don’t count. You know you’re watching a bunch of guys who’ll play little, if ever, in the NFL. Most of you even whine about paying full price to watch scrimmages. But you’re as desperate to watch the NFL as the fringe players are to make it in the NFL.

So the NFL takes advantage of our love for all things football. There’s something wrong about that.

All of that said, did Jaguar fans learn anything about their team last night in New England in the team’s most important practice to date? Truth is, the coaches will not get much insight into what they saw until they break down the tape and study it. So how can fans, watching on TV, really learn anything?

Here are some of things I took away from last night’s 47-12 “loss” to the Patriots:

1. Gabbert can play from under center without stumbling back on his drop. He needs to work on his accuracy, but he looked cool and not a victim of stage fright.

2. New middle linebacker Paul Posluszny cannot cover Pats tight end Aaron Hernandez.

3. Punter Matt Turk looked terrible.

4. The offense line performed poorly from the start (with mostly starters) to the end (with future unemployed men).

5. The wide receivers continue to drop passes, including Mike Thomas.

6. The pass defense was horrible. There was no rush. There was poor coverage. Hoyer (he’s the Pats backup quarterback) had Tom Brady-type stats (15-21 for 171) rookie Ryan Mallett looked like a veteran Pro Bowler (12-19 for 164).

Fortunately for Jaguar fans it was only practice.

  1. Wyman Stewart says:

    (1.) Agree, Gabbert did his job, as a rookie. He was the only part of the Jaguars I liked. (2.) I hope they find something on the game film they can build on. The Jaguars appeared not to belong in the same league as New England. (3.) Nothing about the Jaguars appeared better than last year (4.) Is Jack Del Rio better than any of his defensive players?

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