Somewhere along the line, we confused our expectations for reality. Permit me to explain.
Long before the season began, I pronounced my expectations for the Jaguars this season to be very modest. I wrote and said that this would not be a playoff season and I doubted the Jaguars would be a playoff contender at any point in the season. I flat out called it a rebuilding year.
Halfway into the season, my expectations haven't changed. I don't expect this season to conclude with the Jaguars in the playoffs and, yes, I still consider this to be a rebuilding year.
The possibility exists, however, that I will have been wrong on at least one count. If the Jaguars beat the Jets on Sunday, then whether we want to admit it or not, the Jaguars will be playoff contenders. Yeah, that's what this Sunday's game means.
OK, I've written it and I've said it on the radio and I am getting flooded with e-mails from fans that are angry at me for having disordered their thoughts. Vic, they say, how can you write and say that the Jaguars are a playoff contender when you said this would be a rebuilding year?
Well, first of all, let's wait to see what the Jaguars do in New York, but if they should win that game, the answer to the fans' question would be: I was wrong.
Hey, it's not such an awful thing to say. Alan Greenspan once said it. He stood in front of the U.S. Congress or Senate or whatever and said, "My thinking was flawed." He was talking about the potential collapse of the American economy; I'm just talkin' about the Jaguars.
Expectations aren't reality. That's the intrigue of sports. That's the great suspense that draws us to sports. They are often unpredictable.
So why does it have to all go as we planned? What's wrong with being wrong? Are we so emotionally fragile that we can't deal with unexpected joy or despair?
I can deal with it. I hope I'm wrong. I hope the Jaguars win and become a legitimate playoff contender, which would mean that next weekend's game against Buffalo would be even more meaningful. Oh, yeah, I'd like that.
I've covered plenty of meaningless games; covered a bunch of them last season and hated it. Nothing would be gained by being right. Please, prove me wrong.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Jets.
- Stop the run—The Jets are the number one rushing team in the league. The running game allows them to hide their rookie quarterback. If the Jags stop the run, they'll force the game into Mark Sanchez' hands.
- Win at quarterback—The Jaguars have an experienced, veteran in David Garrard. He should be expected to tilt the field in the Jaguars' favor.
- Avoid Darrelle Revis—Throw at the other Jets corner, Lito Sheppard, not because he's a bad corner but because he's coming off a quad injury and the Jaguars need to test it.
- But mostly run it—The Jets are a patient team and that should allow the Jags to be the same. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Thomas Jones is a matchup that should favor the Jags.
- Return one—The Jets are struggling in kickoff coverage and rookie Mike Thomas could give the Jags an edge in field position.
- Take some shots downfield—The Jets' cornerbacks are aggressive and aggressive corners can be beaten deep. The Jets' weak pass-rush should allow Garrard time to throw.
- Force third down—Sanchez is not converting at a high rate.
- Start fast—The Jets are coming off a bye and teams coming off bye weeks are notoriously slow starters.
- Be physical—Rex Ryan's teams always are.
- Seize the moment—This is the highlight of the season to date for the Jaguars. This is their big game. A win might pump some enthusiasm into the fan base.