The trouble with high expectations is that they allow no room for error.
That's the situation we all faced this season. Our expectations for the Jaguars had reached the point that there were no provision for injuries, a tougher schedule and a temporary decline in performance.
The Jaguars' season collapsed as a result of those three ingredients. Injuries left this team unprepared to begin the season. At the same time, their opening schedule included six division games in the first seven, and before the Jaguars had time to overcome their injuries, they were already behind the proverbial eight-ball.
To overcome that injuries-schedule double hit, the Jaguars needed above-expectations performances from their remaining veteran players, and that didn't occur. That is this team's greatest lament, that when it faced early-season adversity, it did not respond.
Now, we see that all of the pieces are falling together. The offense has, probably, its best-ever mix of run and pass. The weapons on which we were depending at the beginning of the season are now presenting themselves as we expected.
Defensively, this season has been a huge downer, but there are indications of subtle improvement over the last few weeks, and the sad fact of this season is that had this team found a way to stay alive early in the season, it may now be peaking its overall performance for the playoffs.
Yeah, we can, we will play the what-if game. What if they could've found a way to win two more games early in the season? What if the schedule had been flip-flopped?
However, what-ifs are fruitless. The real point to all of this is that this season should've taught us a lesson about expectations. They, too, are meaningless. Why concern yourself with the Super Bowl when you're 16 games away from the playoffs? Why focus on one team when the schedule says every week will present a challenge?
We fell victim to our own unrealistic expectations this season. We ignored the facts and embraced our fantasies. We should blame ourselves for our disappointment as much as we blame the Jaguars.
This season goes to perception. Next season, there will be no such preconceived notions of greatness. Salary-cap problems and an expected exodus of players will lower expectations to the point that a win will have much greater significance than it did this season. As a result, football may be a more enjoyable endeavor.
Now, regarding this Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals: Usually, we present "10 things the Jaguars must do" to win. Last week, we reduced those "10 things" for the game against the Cleveland Browns to "one thing," show up.
Ditto, for the 3-10 Cardinals.