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Good opening schedule


It's perfect. It's just what this team needed.

Where are the prime-time games? How are the Jaguars going to get national respect and exposure if they only have one prime-time game?

Forget about exposure and respect. That's for later. Winning games, pleasing fans and filling the stadium is for now and this is a schedule that favors winning, pleasing and filling. This is a schedule that could, in fact, save the franchise.

Start with three of the first four games at home. Begin with the Denver Broncos coming out of the cool, thin air of the Rockies to face the Jaguars in the heat and humidity of a one o'clock start at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on Sept. 12.

Let's stay there for just a minute. Think about how important a win on opening day would be for this team. Think about a Broncos team in a state of flux having to battle Florida heat and a Jaguars team and its fans on a civic mission.

This will be more than a football season. This is a season that promises to produce a civic movement to prove Jacksonville can and will support the Jaguars, and that the team's future is secure right where it is. It won't be just the weather that'll be hot on opening day at "The Jack."

A trip to San Diego to face the AFC West favorites, the Chargers, follows in what will undoubtedly be a measuring stick game in week two. Quickly, we'll find out if the Jaguars are a playoff contender.

Then come two of the premier home games of the season. The Eagles and their loyal fans will descend on Jacksonville, followed by what is usually the game of the year in Jacksonville, a four o'clocker on Oct. 3 against the Colts.

I'm guessing the first three games of the season will be sellouts. I can't imagine that they won't be on local TV and I can't imagine that a fast start by the Jaguars won't go a long way toward selling tickets for what would remain of the home season.

Let's remember what's important: filling the stadium. I think it's obvious the NFL schedule-maker was reminded of the prime objective in Jacksonville this season, because this schedule is a ticket director's dream come true. All the Jaguars have to do is win.

Think about what a win over the Colts would do. It would set the table for that lone prime-timer, against the visiting Titans on Monday, Oct. 18.

It's hoped the reward for playing four home games in the first six weeks is a fast start. This was not done by accident. With this schedule the league sent us a message, folks. The league is telling us they want us to keep our team and they're trying to help us. The downside to this kind of favorable starting schedule, of course, is a stretch of road games. That'll occur in weeks 7-13.

After the Monday nighter against the Titans, the Jaguars will play four of their next six games on the road. It will likely be the Jaguars' most challenging stretch of schedule. They'll sandwich home games against the Texans and Browns between games at Kansas City and Dallas on the front side and at the New York Giants and Tennessee on the back side.

Those six games will likely determine whether the Jaguars are playoff contenders in 2010. If they are when they leave Tennessee, the Jaguars will face a formidable finishing schedule that could require them to win in Indianapolis and Houston. The Raiders and Redskins visit Jacksonville in December.

No, it's not the kind of schedule that is going to earn the Jaguars national attention, but did you really expect anything more than one national TV game? I didn't.

What Wayne Weaver no doubt wanted was a schedule that could launch his team into playoff contention and drive ticket sales. This is a schedule that can do that.

Now it's time to draft and start getting ready for the Broncos.

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