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Blackout and '10 things'

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Here we go again. Every time there's a blackout there's an accompanying explosion of opinions that blame everything from faulty cupholders to an unfair television policy. And that which suffers the most is Jacksonville's reputation, as though it's the worst thing you can say about a small-market city that it doesn't fill its football stadium.

Consider this: If all of a sudden the Jets and Giants stopped selling out Giants Stadium, would critics bash New York for being a bad football town, or would they bash the league because it can't sell out in New York? Hey, if New York doesn't want it, it must be no good, right?

So, what is it with this small-market bashing? The Orlando Sentinel published a story yesterday suggesting that, because the Jaguars haven't sold out their home-opener in a season most fans fear could produce the team's fourth consecutive losing record, the town is a sleepy southern hamlet with a demographics problem.

What? How is all of that deduced from the fact that 8,000 tickets remain for Sunday's game?

In other words, if Los Angeles doesn't want the NFL, it's OK because LA is a super-sophisticated market that's beyond such mundane entertainment, but if some small-market city that treasures the idea of being included in the NFL roll call doesn't sellout, it's because its citizenry is barefoot and toothless.

Chill out, folks. Give the city, the team and yourself time. Tradition is being built with each passing game. A foundation for the future is evolving.

Jacksonville is a good town with a passion for football and for the Jaguars. The NFL probably got here a little too early, but this city is quickly growing into big-league status. Be patient. It'll happen.

Now, here's "10 things" the Jaguars have to do to beat the Bills.

  1. Stop the run--We made it number one last week, the Jaguars didn't do it and lost. So, we'll try it again.
  1. Slow down the game--That's another way of saying no big plays. If it's a hot day, every Bills player will be dying to get into the "Cool Zone." Keep the defense on the field and make the offense drive the ball.
  1. Win the quarterback battle--That might be true in any game, but it's especially true in this one. Mark Brunell is that important to this team.
  1. Cover kicks--Did it even need to be said?
  1. Get a body on Takeo Spikes--The Patriots didn't.
  1. Be emotionally superior--The Bills are coming off a big emotional win and they may be looking ahead to next week's game in Miami. Letdown?
  1. Get the ball to Fred--That's what works best for this offense. Fred Taylor only got 11 touches in the second half in Carolina. He needs more.
  1. Analyze yourself--The Bills certainly got a look at how to beat the Jags from the second-half tape of the Carolina game. Be ready for it.
  1. Double-team Moulds--The Bills wide receiver can dominate a game.
  1. Embrace the new era--This is the official Alltel Stadium, regular-season debut for Jack Del Rio. The fans need to show up.
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