Memo to Jaguars: This One DOES Matter

Posted: August 18, 2011 in Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL, sports
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I was wrong. Some NFL preseason exhibitions do matter. Case in point: this week’s Jaguars-Falcons exhibition at Everbank Stadium.

This could be the most important promotional event the Jaguars have had in years.

I know in the perfect NFL world business shouldn’t influence what happens on the field, but these aren’t ordinary times for the Jaguars. The Jaguars are in a small market with an apathetic fan base reeling from last year’s late season collapse (again), a 4½-month owners’ lockout and last week’s miserable play in their preseason opener.

Jaguars fans desperately need something to get them excited. They need touchdowns to cheer; quarterback sacks to celebrate; big plays to high-five. We all know final scores in preseason exhibitions don’t matter, but losing 47-12 at New England was a punch in the gut. The Jaguars performance was such a turnoff you’d think the team’s ticket booths were manned by rattlesnakes.

If ever there was a time for the front office to send a memo to the locker room, this is it. The fans need a reason to buy tickets. The Jaguars need an impressive performance against the Falcons.

Knowledgeable diehard fans realize the preseason is for evaluating players, not worrying about victories. They want to see if rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert is showing improvement. They want to see a wide receiver or two step up. They want to see someone wearing teal to knock down the opposing quarterback. They want to see their quarterback well protected. They want to see someone in the secondary cover a receiver. They want to see their new multi-millionaire linebackers make plays. They want to see if defensive tackle Terrence Knighton has lost enough weight to get on the field and if his running mate, Tyson Alualu, has improved. They want to see if 43-year-old punter Matt Turk can avoid shanking a kick.

Coaches don’t game plan for preseason exhibitions. Maybe this week should be an exception.

Knowledgeable diehard fans aren’t what this exhibition is for. This one is for all of those casual fans; the fans who spent much of the last week’s whining about how pitiful the Jaguars looked against the Patriots.

As one fan, who remains undecided on whether or not to buy a season ticket, told me, “Why’d I go spend my hard earned money on that bunch?”

His logic may be flawed, but I know he isn’t alone. Perception becomes reality. In this case perception means not buying Jaguars tickets, and that means television blackouts starting in September. The last figure I heard was the Jaguars still have 12,500 tickets to sell.

So, yeah, this is one of those times when business should interfere with what happens on the field. Owner Wayne Weaver needs to make Coach Jack Del Rio and the players understand playing the Falcons isn’t just another preseason exhibition, just another glorified scrimmage. The better players need to be on the field more than perhaps Del Rio and his coaches would like. Even the most secure players need to play as if their jobs are on the line.

 

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Comments
  1. Wyman Stewart says:

    1.) Jaguars fans desperately need something to get them excited.

    Game over and won. However, on your point, the Jaguars were more a tease, than a team to get excited about. Garrard should definitely be the starting QB, until he fails. Gabbert is more rookie NFL QB than starting NFL QB. The running game is the team’s best hope for TDs. Receivers, wait and see. Would say there’s some promise there. Defense? Might be up to an NFL standard this year, but this defense can’t be as bad as last year’s. If it is, might be time to fire a lot of people. I’m not excited. I’m cautiously optimistic—for now.

    2.) “Why’d I go spend my hard earned money on that bunch?”

    That wasn’t answered, not even close. Oh, maybe if caustiously optimistic and willing to wait at least one more season, you might gamble your money by buying tickets to see this bunch. That’s better odds than betting on this team to win a game or do well during the season. When they do win, you would feel like a winner that day. This team concerns me. If the next game doesn’t make this team look like a winner (why should it), then Tony Boselli giving away autographed footballs to folks who purchase season tickets wouldn’t persuade folks to sign on to this team. Gonna have to create an in-season bandwagon by winning convincingly to sell those season tickets. It’s unfortunate, for this team may deserve the support. YET, what have they done lately?

    3.) In this case perception means not buying Jaguars tickets, and that means television blackouts starting in September.

    David Lamm, I fear you’re dead right about this point. Perhaps it is too much to ask a team in such dire need of rebuilding, and in an economy in worse shape than last year’s team, to ask for no blackouts or very few. A team is suppose to bring a city together, while this team is trying to bring itself together to make a creditable NFL team. Jaguarmania does not exist on the field or in the stands. The fans delivered last season; the team didn’t. At this point, the fans are delivering more than the team is. But, that’s why you play the season. If by the end of this season there is not something to be excited about, this franchise is in deep trouble. The last third of this year’s schedule will tell the tale. However, there may be a lot of empty seats, so it’s up to the players to finally deliver. I hope they do. Until then, blackouts rule the day.

    CONCLUSION:

    I hope I’m wrong. Would be a great thing if this season began a new era of Jaguar football. Would be a positive outcome if this team wins 9, 10, or 11 games, while looking better and better doing it. Would love to admit I was wrong and Weaver’s stay-the-course determination to build with Jack Del Rio as coach, David Garrard at QB, Smith deftly selecting ideal players for the Jaguars, and Weaver telling fans to support the franchise, proved to be right. I consider this a football knowledgable city; much smarter than I am. Would be remarkable for Weaver to prove the wiser football guru in this city. Better than this team being 8-8 again, which is a realistic possibility and not necessarily a bad end. I just doubt the fans here will support that. Good luck Wayne Weaver, Jack Del Rio, etc. WIN ONE FOR THE FANS!

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