Let's wrap up the season with a little awards ceremony.
Most improved--Marcus Stroud has made gains this season that have canceled worries from his rookie season when Stroud was not the factor his size and selection in the draft forecast. If this team has a future Pro-Bowler, Stroud is it.
Least appreciated--Wali Rainer doesn't have the speed and big-play ability you want in a linebacker, but he's the Jaguars' overwhelming leader in tackles, has played special teams and never gets hurt.
Most unfairly maligned--Mark Brunell has had an average year statistically, but he has never played with a worse supporting cast. Uncertainty on the Jaguars offensive line has eaten at Brunell's pocket confidence, and his wide receivers corps is the worst in Jaguars history.
Second-most unfairly maligned--Contrary to popular belief, Fernando Bryant has had a solid season, as a cornerback on a team that offers very little pass-rush.
Most valuable--Fred Taylor gave the Jaguars big-play ability they couldn't find anywhere else on the team. Had the Jaguars been without Taylor, opposing defenses would've had no fear.
Most promising--Third-round pick Akin Ayodele is the most physically impressive rookie linebacker in Jaguars history. He has a pass-rush burst and a willingness to take on blocks that Kevin Hardy lacked, and he has developed his pass-coverage skills more fully than anyone thought he could. This kid can be a big-time player.
Best role player--Paul Spicer gets everything out of his talent. If he played on a team with two star defensive ends, the perception would be that Spicer could start for another team. He's a bonafide NFL-caliber player who offers quality depth at a time when there is very little of it.
Injury that hurt the most--Maurice Williams' broken leg cost this team its best offensive lineman. That's right, Williams had acquired that distinction in just his second pro season.
And now here's "10 things" the Jaguars have to do to beat the Indianapolis Colts.
- Do whatever the Giants did--How could the Colts lay an egg at home with so much on the line?
- Convince Peyton Manning it's a big game--He struggles with the big ones.
- Make believe the playoffs are at stake--It's tough getting up for a game that doesn't count.
- Remember Chicago--Last year's season-ender was embarrassing.
- Show some heart--It's the last chance this season.
- Rally round the kid--David Garrard gives us a preview of the future.
- Feed off Fred--Fred Taylor is bound and determined to play on a sore ankle.
- Don't rally their rookie--Dwight Freeney is a big-time impact player and he'll be one-on-one against rookie left tackle Mike Pearson.
- Respect the division--The Jaguars have only won one AFC South game this year. That's not good enough.
- Enjoy the dome--You could be outside.