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They've over-achieved


They've lost one game by three points, three games by two points and one game by one point. So, what does that tell us?

How are we to judge this Jaguars team? Should we scold this team for having under-achieved, or should we praise these Jaguars for having played over their heads and given us a more competitive season than we otherwise should've expected?

Let's examine the latter.

The Jaguars are currently ranked 24th in the league on offense and 22nd on defense. Both units have fallen in the rankings the past couple of weeks, and the pass-offense and the run-defense are each a lowly 27th in the league.

Frankly, those are not the rankings of a team that has lost five games by a total of 10 points. You would expect a team as competitive as the Jaguars have been to be higher in the rankings. For example, though the Bengals have a 1-12 record, they are 20th on offense and 21st on defense. Now, that's under-achieving.

The Jaguars, however, have managed to overcome huge statistical disadvantages to not only keep games close, but to have come within a play or two of winning. Consider the last two games, against Pittsburgh and Cleveland, in which the Jaguars were outgained 820 yards to 437 yards, and had the ball a combined 28 fewer minutes than the Steelers and Browns.

Maybe the most telling stat of the season is this: Cleveland handed the ball to its rookie running back, William Green, 14 times on first-down plays. How's that for predictable? Yet, the Jaguars couldn't stop Green. They knew he was coming but they couldn't stop him. What does that tell us?

The Jaguars' ability to remain competitive this season may be one of the most significant, yet, least appreciated accomplishments in this team's history. This team has almost no run-defense, and what has always been its most valued possession, its passing game, now scares no one.

It makes you wonder: What would happen if this team stopped playing hard? What if, all of a sudden, the roof caved in? Is that what it's going to take for us to understand and appreciate the circumstances of this season?

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