JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – DECEMBER 01: Tealman, A Jacksonville Jaguars fan, looks on during the third quarter of a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at TIAA Bank Field on December 01, 2019 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
The national media should let the Jacksonville Jaguars take the field before they determine the 2020 NFL season is a failure.
Just like I wrote a couple of weeks ago, when I said fans and the national media should let Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew play quarterback and wait to decide if he is or is not the future of this franchise, maybe the national media should let this team play a few games before it determines that Trevor Lawrence or any other college quarterback is the answer to the success of this team.
After reading a story on ESPN.com by Seth Walder, I’m convinced that this is a football team isn’t going to get any kind of respect until it starts winning games.
Walder wrote a story based on analytics and predictions for the upcoming 2020 NFL season where he begged the question whether or not Laurence, who is still playing football at Clemson the last time I checked, is the answer to the Jaguars’ prayers following what is expected to be a dismal season.
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There has been plenty of attention given to the Jaguars this off-season based on the moves the front office has made in releasing popular veterans and restructuring its roster to find a winning culture that has been suspect at best.
For the most part, the support for Minshew, who is entering his second season in the NFL, has been mixed. While you will see plenty of support for the former sixth-round Draft pick locally, the same cannot be said on a national level where many pundits believe he and the team will prove to be one of the worst in the NFL in 2020.
It’s a narrative Jaguars fans have come to know all too well. Different year, same situation. The thought of the team reaching the standards of 2017 has become an aberration. The over-the-top performance by the defense and Blake Bortles and the running game on offense was nothing more than a mirage.
Now, as the Jacksonville Jaguars continue with their off-season “virtual“ preparation just like 31 other NFL teams, the growing sentiment through publications nationwide is the team will snag first pick in the 2021 NFL draft as if it’s a foregone conclusion‘s.
My response to that is, “Let them play a darn game first and then make a decision!”
On paper, the Jacksonville Jaguars are a younger team with more speed on defense. They appear to have more weapons for Minshew to work with, and new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is putting together an installation of offense that will work to his strengths. We don’t read much of that on national websites and in publications.
Jaguars fans have seen Minshew at his best and his worst, and to be honest, both are better than Bortles when he was under center in the five years he was here in Jacksonville.
Walden states in his synopsis the Jaguars are the odds on favorite to grab the first pick in the selection process. The team also owns the first-round pick in the Los Angeles Rams thanks to the Jalen Ramsey trade. Don’t count the Rams out of the running for a top selection either, as that franchise has made many moves they have left pundits and fans scratching their heads.
What if Minshew exceeds expectations and has the kind of season expected of a quarterback making the transition from his first year in the league to his second. If the theory is true that the second year for an NFL quarterback is the most important in his career, then we should expect good things.
He may not be the elite quarterback Jacksonville jaguars fans expect like a Deshaun Watson or Philip Rivers or even an aging Tom Brady, but he’s better than what the coaching staff has had in the past.
This is a team that was decimated by injuries in 2018 and team turmoil in 2019. General manager David Caldwell and the front office made sure to change the direction of the franchise by eliminating poor character players and players who would not buy in to what the team hoped to accomplish.
And, judging by what has been said and moves that have been attempted this off-season, Jaguars may not be done with their overhaul of the current roster.
This is the time of year as teams prepare for training camp and the preseason where predictions are made and prognosticators act both omnipotent and omniscient. Hopefully, this team of youth and promise will surprise us all – much like 2017.
If anything the constant chatter of the need to draft a quarterback to save this franchise should be enough to inspire 53 players to do more than just finally sit by and let 13 opponents walk all over them this year. There shouldn’t be any talk of tanking for anybody or losing games on purpose. That’s not what football is all about.
For now, Jacksonville Jaguars fans should read what Walden and other analysts write and take what they say sparingly. The only way to prove everybody wrong is to perform on the field. That has not happened yet. And until it does, Jaguars won’t get the respect they deserve because it appears not many of these writers are willing to give them a chance.