(Dec. 29)—My radio buddy Jeff Lageman is holding out hope the Jags might get the help they need this Sunday and make it into the playoffs. Lageman actually thinks it could happen. I don't.
Call me a pessimist. Call me one of those gloom-and-doom reporters. Or just call me a realist. I just don't see all four of the things happening that the Jaguars need to have happen to make it into the playoffs. Frankly, I'd be moderately content with a Jaguars win over the Chiefs, which would leave the Jaguars at 9-7 and give me a whole offseason of what-ifs to contemplate.
By now you know what I think of the 2006 Jaguars. You know that I think this is a really good team. So why will they probably not make it into the playoffs? Well, it happens that way sometimes.
I thought San Diego was a really good team last year. You know that. I had them at number one in my power rankings after they gave the Colts their first loss of the season. The Chargers, however, didn't make the playoffs. It happens like that sometimes.
The Chargers made the playoffs this season, didn't they? In fact, they'll likely get homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, which would make the Chargers the favorite to win the Super Bowl. So, are you going to tell me the Chargers weren't a really good team in 2005, just because they didn't make the playoffs?
Sometimes really good teams don't make it into the playoffs. The Jaguars opponent this Sunday, the Chiefs, was a really good team last season. The Chiefs finished 10-6 but they didn't make it into the playoffs.
The Steelers won it all last season but they nearly missed the playoffs. Had last year's Steelers had a call go against them during their late-season run, as the Jaguars had a call go against them last Sunday against the Patriots, there would've been no run to the Super Bowl for the Steelers. That's how fragile all of this is.
Nothing is going to change my mind about this year's Jaguars. I think it's a really good team. I also think Lageman is whistlin' past the graveyard.
Here are what I believe will be my final "10 things" of the 2006 season.
- Stop Larry Johnson—This guy is so good, so durable that I might even take him over LaDainian Tomlinson. Johnson has 383 rushing attempts. That's an average of more than 25 a game. Amazing!
- Show me he's the guy—I'm talking about David Garrard. I'd like to see him light it up this Sunday. I'd like to go into the offseason thinking Garrard can get it done.
- Get him his yards—I'm not big on records and awards, but I'd like to see Maurice Jones-Drew get 105 yards rushing and reach the 1,000-yard mark. That way, when Vince Young wins the rookie of the year award because people obsess about quarterbacks, Jones-Drew will have something even more lasting and more important than the popularity contest Young is going to win.
- Give it all you've got—That's what a professional does.
- Send a message—That you belong in the playoffs.
- Protect the quarterback—Should the Jags finish the year with franchise records for most yards rushing and fewest sacks allowed, maybe no one will complain about the offensive line next preseason.
- Aim high—The Jaguars are trailing Baltimore by 171 yards in the overall defense ranking. That's a lot of yards to overcome, but it can be done.
- Cement a winning tradition—A win would give the Jaguars their third consecutive winning season.
- Raise a toast to '06—It was a pretty good year.
- Provide a preview—Of what 2007 might be.