by Richard David Smith III
“Meet the #Jaguars, same as the old Jaguars,” tweeted Jacksonville’s Abel Harding, playing upon the famous lyrics by The Who. That pretty much summed it up, as the 2013 regular season game one Jaguars looked very similar to last year’s edition. At times, you’d even swear that you could still see Mike Mularkey lurking on the sideline. The numbers were ugly, so I’ll spare you the statistical details and, honestly, those disturbing images probably wouldn’t be suitable for some readers. The final score of the contest was Kansas City 28, Jacksonville 2 (yes, two). The Jaguars drew first blood on a blocked punt by J.T. Thomas that went out of bounds in the end zone, resulting in the 2-point safety. In hindsight, that sad looking “2” being the only points in their final tally column is almost worse than if there had just been a zero.
The Jaguars early game plan on offense seemed to be to pass horizontally and create space for some of their quicker weapons such as Ace Sanders, but the Chiefs defense was having none of it. Blaine Gabbert looked like his usual uncomfortable and scared self, throwing two inexcusable interceptions, one leading to a Chiefs defensive touchdown. The Chiefs didn’t have much going on offense either, but handled the Jaguars with a very workmanlike effort under an uncharacteristically conservative Andy Reid.
Now in his third year, it is starting to look more and more like Gabbert may not be the long-term answer under center for the Jaguars. To be fair, Gabbert was playing with an injured thumb and missed the last two preseason games as well as some very valuable practice time with the new offense. While Chad “Less Bad” Henne may actually give the Jaguars the best chance to win right now (I personally thought that a halftime switch was in order), I suppose it does make sense at this point for the Jaguars to just let the Gabbert experiment play out, flawed though it may be.
Believe it or not, there were actually a few positives to take away from this game. The punting game is obviously in great hands–er, feet—Bryan Anger (not to be confused with former Daily Show correspondent Brian Unger) punted a whopping 11 times at a 50.5 average with amazing hang times to boot (no pun or facetiousness intended). Also, as Coach Gus Bradley pointed out in his post game presser, the Jaguars defense held the Chiefs scoreless on eight straight possessions in the second half. Given the disadvantageous field positions the defense was routinely stuck with by the offense, the score could have been even more lopsided than it was if the Jaguars D had not given it their damnedest in the last half of the game. When asked for a positive on offense, Bradley responded, “We competed,” which I guess is true—they did not forfeit the game, and they played it through to its entirety. So…there’s that.
The negativity that is generated in a loss like this can spread throughout the city much like the pink bad mood slime from Ghostbusters II. Often, people who aren’t even connected to the Jaguars can end up being effected. Take the testimony of a local cab driver who goes by “C-Lo” and often shuttles passengers to and from Everbank Field on game day. She says that, on top of getting fewer tips when the Jags lose, she often has to listen to long-winded rants from customers for the duration of the trip.
“There was one guy who was so angry because he took his daughter to her very first NFL game and she didn’t even get to see a damn field goal by her team,” said C-Lo, in a taxicab confession that probably won’t make it to HBO.
Still, some found a way to look at the sunny side, literally.
“The Chiefs have to head back to the middle of the country. #wheredreamsgotodie I’m swimming at the beach. #ilovejax,” tweeted Joe Sampson, executive director of One Spark.
As for Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, after the game, he fled to Tallahassee.**
So, what do we take away from this less-than-savory effort? Well, when reflecting upon this game from the comfort of your salsa-stained Monday morning quarterback chair, it’s important to remember that week one in the NFL is probably full of more overreaction than any other week of the season…and understandably so. First of all, it is the only real game by which to judge a team as far as hard evidence. Secondly, the league is in a completely bi-polar state right now. In other words, the league is black and white like it will never be at any other point in the season. Exactly half the teams are undefeated and exactly half the teams are winless. Naturally, hyperbole and panic set in. So just relax, drink a few locally crafted beers as recommended by Jax Brew Bitch (which can be found in the current EU Magazine), and get ready for 15 more of these.
Looking Forward: It doesn’t get any easier. The Jaguars now head to the west coast to face the Oakland Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks. The Raiders put up a good fight in a losing effort to the Indianapolis Colts in game one, falling 21-17 despite QB Terrelle Pryor’s 112 rushing yards, and the Seahawks are amongst the favorites to win the NFC Championship. Perhaps Coach Bradley returning the Pacific Time zone that he has been accustomed to over the last few years will help him properly adjust the team along with his circadian rhythm.
**While this is factually true, Khan traveling to Tallahassee had nothing to do with the devastation of Sunday’s game. Khan went to Tallahassee after the game to meet with Florida Governor Rick Scott concerning economic policy.
Jaguars vs. Chiefs Recap
by Richard David Smith III