We're here. We made it.
Yeah, it's been a long road from when I left you last season to now, and my offseason started a little earlier than I had planned, so welcome to the first "10 things" column of the 2010 season. It's good to be here. I mean, it's really good to be here.
My final "10 things" column of the 2009 season was posted on Christmas Eve, three days prior to the Jaguars' week-16 game in New England. My number one thing was "Score in the fourth quarter." As it turned out, that was the only quarter in which the Jaguars scored.
The day after my Christmas Eve "10 things," I got a bad case of heartburn and my season ended. Some accused me of faking the whole thing. I never was very fond of Cleveland in Jan.
Well, I'm back, but I'm not the same guy. Press box hot dogs? Gone. Giant soft pretzels with mustard in Philadelphia and New England? I can still eat the mustard, I think. A Primanti Bros. sandwich with fries on top in Pittsburgh? Only if I wanna be buried in my hometown and save the cost of transportation.
No, sir, this is a new Vic. This is a lean, mean, wheat bread-eatin' machine. I've changed and you know what? So have the Jaguars.
The Jaguars that faded down the stretch last season have been replaced by a more dedicated and committed version. Just as the senior editor of their team's website faded down the stretch and had to change his ways, so has the team he covers.
I'm not sayin' they're gonna win more often, but there's no doubt in my mind their fans are going to be convinced the team's effort will be, at all times this season, total. The days of accusing the team of being a little flat or lacking intensity are over. If this year's team fails, it will only be for one reason: They're not good enough.
So, beginning on Sunday, we start to find out how good they are. Are they good enough to be a playoff contender? Are they good enough to pursue an AFC South title, which the coach has announced as his team's goal? Are they good enough to beat the Broncos on Sunday and get off to a fast start?
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Broncos.
1. Run the ball—In the heat, against a team that was 26th in the league against the run last season, that's how you win.
2. Rush the passer—It was the main focus of the offseason. Any chance the Jaguars have of being a better defense in 2010 than they were in '09 begins with an improved pass-rush.
3. Play with emotion—The fans wanna see it. It'll energize them and EverBank Field desperately needs to be a more energetic place than it was last season.
4. Deny big plays—The Broncos have big-play receivers and they will no doubt attack what has been a troubled safety position for the Jaguars.
5. Protect the passer—David Garrard didn't have time to throw last season. Success in the passing game starts with time to throw.
6. Win special teams—The Jaguars should have an advantage in the kicking game against every team they play. They need to play to that advantage.
7. Avoid turnovers—It remains the time-honored formula for winning.
8. Dump it to Jennings—The second-year running back has emerged as a major weapon in the passing game.
9. Stay fresh—The Jags are deep on the defensive line and at running back, and that should help the Jags win the fourth quarter.
10. Beware of Tebow—Josh McDaniels will likely have something planned for his first-round pick.