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Zone reaction: State of the Franchise


JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser's four quick thoughts from Thursday's 2018 State of the Franchise, which included a new uniform reveal, news of a whole bunch of announcements and overall optimism about a franchise on the rise

1.The new uniforms are as promised.Bold – with a nod to tradition. That's how Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin described the Jaguars' new uniforms recently – and Thursday's reveal didn't disappoint. The 2018 State of the Franchise Thursday was about a lot of things – the "Lot J" developments," the new stadium name (TIAA Bank Field), a new "Grunt-Style" look in the North end zone, an epic Lynyrd Skynyrd announcement and even a dog park – but for many observers all else was understandably overshadowed by the long-awaited debut of the Jaguars' new uniforms. They're much more traditional than the uniforms the last five years. The two-toned helmets have been replaced by a glossy all-black helmet and the uniforms feature three jersey options (white, black and teal), three pants options (white, black and teal) and two socks options (teal and white). An all-teal combination can be used up to three times – as the team's "Color Rush" jersey and as an alternative jersey. And yes: this design has the old-school, back-to-basic feel of Coughlin, the team's head coach from 1994-2002. The thought here is the current uniforms fit the current Jaguars: tough, traditional, no frills. Will everyone like the new ones? Few things are universally liked, but make no mistake: the modern, multitoned feel of the past five years is gone – replaced by an older-school look with the decided feel of a return to a storied past.

2.The Jaguars know how to throw a party – and a State of the Franchise.It's perhaps easy for people who follow the Jaguars closely to forget the uniqueness – and importance – of the State of the Franchise. What began in 2013 as a novel way for a new regime led by Owner Shad Khan and President Mark Lamping to transparently keep a fanbase/town abreast of critical issues facing the franchise has become an annual touchstone moment for all who care about this team. Fans have come to anticipate the event with the expectation it will bring major news of progress – and rarely has it disappointed. The event has given the team's supporters rare insight into the challenges and achievements of an organization, helping to give fans and franchise a connection rare in NFL circles. Credit Jaguars leadership for creating an event such as SOTF that so effectively gets its message across in difficult times and times of success.

3.Lamping has a sense of humor.Lamping on several occasions Thursday made reference to what many already knew – that many observing Thursday's event already had seen what was meant to be its climax: the reveal of the uniforms. Signage of the new uniforms was mistakenly installed late Wednesday evening at Jacksonville International Airport, a photo of which was seen on various social media outlets late Wednesday and early Thursday. Lamping specified during Thursday's event that the premature display was the result of a miscommunication and not the fault of JIA. He also referred several times to the reveal apparently being on "Coughlin time," a reference to Coughlin's well-publicized rule that meetings start not when they are scheduled but five minutes early.

Take a closer look at the all-new Jaguars Nike Vapor Untouchable uniforms.

 4.These are good times around the Jaguars.While Lamping on Thursday took time to touch on the importance of continued investment in TIAA Bank Field – and while the importance of ticket prices and local revenues remained a major SOTF topic – there overall was a decidedly positive edge to Thursday's event. That was true even before Johnny Van Zant and Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd took the stage late. Not that past SOTF's have been downers, but the high points of Thursday's event were decidedly high – and welcome news. Lamping made it clear that season-ticket sales are strong in the wake of 2017's run to the AFC South title and AFC Championship Game – with new sales and renewals the highest of the Khan/Lamping era. Through most of the comments there was a constant thread of knowing more work had to be done both on and off the field; the franchise isn't so removed from the struggles of the last decade to forget how difficult on- and off-field success is to sustain. But just as clear was the idea that the franchise has taken a major step in both areas in the last season – and that the necessary remaining steps very much appear within reach.

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