This is a week dedicated to placing blame. Everybody is trying to put the blame somewhere for the Jaguars' embarrassing, 43-14 loss in Indianapolis this past Monday night.
Careful examination of the final stats make blame easy to affix. The Jaguars lost the battle on both lines of scrimmage. They gave up the big play, repeatedly. They didn't rush the passer or the football, and so forth and so on. Where do you want to stop? Let's make it real easy: Forty-three points is too many to allow, and 14 points isn't enough to have scored. The Jaguars played poorly on defense and on offense, and that's a bad combination.
Folks, Monday night's disaster wasn't about mental errors or little breakdowns or a play here and a play there. Monday night was a total butt-kicking, and when you get waxed like that, it's time to step back and take a more realistic look at the big picture.
The greatest blame belongs to unrealistic expectations. We talked about 12-4 and 13-3, and we looked right past a brutal schedule and a burgeoning injury list. This is not a 12-4 or 13-3 football team and, even if it was, this is not a 12-4 or 13-3 schedule.
How was it that we could maintain our wild expectations, despite injuries to big-time players who occupy big-time hits on the Jaguars' salary cap. What's wrong with the Jaguars? Are you kidding?
They lost their Pro-Bowl right tackle at a time when their Pro-Bowl left tackle is attempting a comeback from knee reconstruction that is only eight months old. Then they lost their Pro-Bowl free safety, their star running back, their second-string tight end and all of their two-tight-end sets, and most recently the most accurate kicker in NFL history has undergone back surgery. Oh, yeah, their starting center, who missed the first two games of the season, is now gone for the season.
The fact of the matter is that all of our disappointment in the Jaguars now is the result of expectations that did not afford them a chance to recover from a summer of devastating losses. For some unexplainable reason, we still expect Mark Brunell to dance through secondaries and for miracles to fall out of the sky, and for the calendar to read 1996 again.
Folks, this is not God's team. The Jaguars are not the anointed ones. Everything this franchise has accomplished to date can be explained logically: They spent a lot of money to acquire a lot of good players. Now, a lot of those good players are injured and this team is going to have to scratch and claw to stay in the playoffs race, with the idea that maybe recovery will occur later in the season and this team will begin playing championship-caliber football at the time of the season when champions are crowned.
What we should expect of this team is to show the grit and determination that have nothing to do with the quality of a man's talent, but everything to do with the quality of his character.
What do you think? Go to the Message Boards and let us know.