As I step out of the office to begin my vacation, my yearly preview of retirement, I do so with the satisfaction that there's nothing wrong with the Jaguars 11,000 or so ticket sales wouldn't fix. Yeah, if I knew we could get rid of those tickets in July, I'd leave the office today feelin' real good about this team.
I'm not sayin' this is a playoff team. I won't do that. Jack Del Rio has his goals and expectations and I have mine. The difference is he's the coach, I'm a sportswriter; coaches aspire, sportswriters question. Get it?
Anyhow, if you haven't noticed, less than a month into the preseason-magazine-prediction season, the score is Vic 5, Bill 0. For those of you who don't immediately understand, I'll explain.
A gent named Bill called our "Jaguars This Week" radio show a few months ago, angry at what he perceived to be a negative attitude by me. I had just offered what I thought was a sobering comment to fans who have a playoff expectation this season by reminding them that when the preseason magazines come out, nearly all of them will pick the Jaguars to finish last in the division.
Bill took exception to that remark. He came on the air, sparred with me and then made a rather salty parting comment. I tried to explain to him that finishing last in the division wasn't my expectation, it was what I expected would be the consensus opinion of the summer magazines. The explanation, however, did not satisfy him.
Well, by my count, the score is, to date, 5-0 me, and that's just perfect. Hey, I hope there are 10 of those preseason rags out there. Go ahead, make it 10-0. Here's why.
The under-the-radar position with which the Jaguars will open training camp is just what the doctored order in a division in which the other three teams find themselves with issues and expectations with which they must deal. Hey, I don't think it hurt the Saints at all last season that they finished last in the NFC South the previous year.
Would you rather be the Titans? They got issues with Chris Johnson and Vince Young.
The Texans? Big things are being expected of them. They are, for the first time in their history, a preseason favorite to make the playoffs. Gary Kubiak's biggest problem may be inflated expectations. He has to make sure his players don't buy the hype. Are they really that good? Let's not forget that they were 1-5 in the AFC South last year.
Indianapolis is still the class of the division, but rebounding from a Super Bowl loss is a tough task and the Colts came away from that game with a little infighting. Also, the Colts' recent drafts haven't been nearly as productive as the Dwight Freeney, Dallas Clark, Bob Sanders drafts of 2002-04.
Compared to their counterparts, the Jaguars are issue-free; no pressure, no squabbles. Other than for those 11,000 tickets, the Jaguars' biggest problem heading into July is that they're too intense and they work too hard. That's a problem?
So, as I leave the office to re-charge what's left of my battery, I do so with a degree of ease, and the more my lead over Bill is increased, the better it'll be for the Jaguars.
Pressure? What pressure?