Jacksonville Jaguars

Out Of No Where

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

If you had told me a year ago that the Jacksonville Jaguars would be two games away from the Super Bowl, I would have laughed.

Heartily. Out loud, full body laughter.

After the Urban Meyer era (or should we say “error”) of Jacksonville football, Jaguar nation was particularly disheartened…and that’s saying something, considering the soul-sucking levels of angst & frustration this fan base has had to endure since the Titans went 3-0 against us while we were undefeated against the rest of the league back in 1999.

From the barstool boogie incident to the disgraceful treatment of a beloved kicker, Coach Meyer proved above and beyond that he was 100% not ready for prime time. My OSU friends warned me. Oh, how I hoped they were wrong.

Spoiler alert; they weren’t.

The performance of rookie signal caller Trevor Lawrence didn’t help the cause. Heralded as a generational talent coming out of Clemson, his less-than-lackluster performance had more than one prognosticator questioning whether everyone was wrong about “Sunshine.”

Then came the long, drawn-out offseason. The seemingly unending wait for a replacement head coach, the cries of the Jaguars faithful to hire Teal & Black alum Byron Leftwich away from the Buccaneers, the in-the-moment questionable free-agent signings of Christian Kirk, Zayn Jones, and Even Engram.

All of these had many in the Jaguars fanbase to call for GM Trent Baalke’s head on a platter, and saw dozens – nay, hundreds – of Twitter profiles change their picture to the clown emoji sporting the distinctive Shad Khan handlebar moustache.

And yes, mine was one of them.

My, my, my, how the tables have turned.

Enter Doug Pederson. A head coach with not only pro experience but a Lombardi Trophy on his resume.

While the hire was not as flashy as what the Leftwich hire would have been, it’s obvious in hindsight how the results were superior.

Pederson brought the Jags their second winning season and playoff appearance in the last 15 years.

He coached the team to a six-game win streak to end the season, including an instantly canonized come-from-behind victory over the San Diego – I mean Los Angeles Falcons – I mean Chargers.

Trevor Lawrence showed not only flashes, but blindingly bright moments that showed that yes, Baalke made the right decision in drafting him. Kirk, Zayn, and Engram proved to be extraordinarily productive weapons, and Travis Etienne got the bounce back sophomore season we all hoped was in store.

The much-discussed selection of UGA’s Travon Walker as the team’s second straight #1 overall pick got some sideways looks, and while his performance has been…shall we say “unpolished” at times this year, it’s easy to see why he and Josh Allen (no, not *that* Josh Allen) will be cornerstones of the “Jacksvillians” defense for years to come.

Then there’s the trade deadline acquisition of suspended WR Calvin Ridley. If he’s even a shadow of the player he was before the suspension (which came, ironically enough, for betting *against* the Jags), he will go down as an all-time free agent steal. That’s some next-level management right there by any metric.

I made it official earlier, but I’ll reiterate it here; I hereby formally apologize for doubting Trent Baalke.

Byron Leftwich, on the other hand, was fired.

For once, Jaguar fans can say they dodged a bullet, and aren’t dismissed as delusional when we say “just wait til next year.”

Down Here

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The NFL season is underway and there is a lot of room for improvement for several teams. We are going to take a look at the AFC South and preview the Week 2 matchups.

Indianapolis @ Jacksonville: This sounds crazy to say but the Colts acquired Matt Ryan to win games like this. Last season with a playoff berth on the line in Week 18, Indy lost in Jacksonville (3-14) to a bad team. That’s when they realized they had to move on from Carson Wentz and upgrade the quarterback position.

On paper it looks like the Colts have a complete team and they only need solid quarterback play to make a deep playoff run. They tied division rival Houston in Week 1, 20 – 20. Matt Ryan did throw for 352 yards and a touchdown in his debut but he also had two turnovers.

The Jaguars are coming into the season with optimism. Doug Pederson is the new head coach and he’s the man that finally brought a Super Bowl to Philadelphia. Trevor Lawrence is also expected to drastically improve in his second year in the league. The Jags lost to Washington 28 -22 to start the season.

The Colts are looking to send a message to Jacksonville and they will win convincingly.

Houston @ Denver: The Texans are expected to be a bad team but they put up a very good fight against Indy. The game ended in a tie but they did lead 20 – 3 going into the fourth quarter.

Lovie Smith is in his first year as head coach. He served as associate head coach and defensive coordinator for the Texans for the 2021 season. The defense recorded 25 takeaways in 2021, tied for tenth.

“Obviously we didn’t lose the game, but it kind of feels that way since we were up, we were doing so many good things in the beginning and then they came back,” Houston linebacker Christian Kirksey said.

Quarterback Davis Mills threw for 240 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions and completed 62% of his pass attempts.

Receiver Brandon Cooks led the team with 7 receptions for 82 yards. Houston struggled running the ball, gaining 77 yards on 28 attempts.

We all know the Broncos have Russell Wilson now but I don’t think they are an elite team.

I pick Denver to win but not a blowout.

Tennessee @ Buffalo: This is a Monday Night Football game so we expect it to be good.

They played Monday night last season and the Titans won, 34 – 31. Some things have changed since last year though because the Bills are the favorite to win the AFC.

They started the season by blowing out the defending Super Bowl champion Rams on the road, 31 – 10. Josh Allen looks like he might win MVP this season.

Tennessee lost a close game to the Giants 21 – 20 so they are looking for their first win of the season. Derrick Henry played his first regular season game since his 2021 foot injury. He rushed for 82 yards on 21 carries. Ryan Tannehill is looked at as the weak link, which is why they drafter quarterback Malik Willis in the third round of the 2022 draft.

They also traded star wide receiver A.J. Brown to Philly on the first day of the draft so they are missing a key weapon.

I expect Buffalo to win by double digits.

On The Clock

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

For a second straight year, the Jacksonville Jaguars will have the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. After going 1-15 in 2020 and selecting Trevor Lawrence first overall last year, the Jags went 3-14 in 2021 to finish with the worst record in the league for a second straight year.

The Jaguars have 12 total draft picks this year.

After a tumultuous few months as head coach, Urban Meyer was fired after 13 games last season. This year, Doug Pederson will lead the way in Jacksonville.

The team has been extremely active in free agency, signing WR Christian Kirk, OG Brandon Scherff, and LB Foye Oluokun to deals. The team has committed more than $175 million of guaranteed money to free agent signings.

Unlike the last four drafts, a quarterback is not likely to be the first prospect off the board in 2022. With the draft just three days away, Las Vegas has updated the odds for the No. 1 overall selection, choosing a new favorite to walk across the stage first.

“Around the NFL, there’s talk about GM Trent Baalke, and his draft history with SF,” NFL Network’s Peter Schrager said. “Year after year, the 49ers took players with incredible physical traits over the top collegiate performers. That’s Travon Walker.”

Walker has pushed out Michigan star Aidan Hutchinson from the top spot in the odds with less than a week to go before the draft in Indianapolis. Either defensive lineman would be the first non-quarterback to be selected first overall since Myles Garrett went first in the 2017.

The buzz around Walker had been growing for some time. Top minds across the NFL landscape have pointed to the possibility of hearing his name called first for a number of reasons. NFL analyst Todd McShay broke down what he likes about the Bulldogs veteran.

“I think his best football is still ahead of him,” McShay said. “He’s got to learn how to use his hands a little bit more efficiently as a pass rusher and how to finish better, kind of gather himself because he left a lot of sacks on the field – only finished with 9.5 sacks in his career. He was the dynamite out on the defensive line just taking up blocks. I always say fishing with dynamite. He’s the dynamite that goes in and blows everything up. He’s an exceptional defensive end when it comes to stopping the run. I think he’s gonna be at his best rushing the passer right away on the inside,” he continued. “The more time goes on and the more he works on his hands as a pass rusher, he’s gonna become a really good edge rusher too. I think the ceiling for him is extraordinarily high. He’s 6-(foot)-5, 272 pounds running 4.51 (40-yard dash) with 35.5-inch arms.”

Walker started all 15 games for Georgia last season, finishing with 37 tackles, six sacks with 7.5 tackles for loss and a team-high 36 quarterback hurries.

One thing is for certain, Jacksonville should draft with the philosophy of “What Helps Trevor?”

This is where we could see a surprise. So much of the spotlight right now is on edge rushers, it’s among the biggest Jacksonville Jaguars draft needs. However, the offensive line is also an area of weakness, Doug Pederson emphasized the importance of offensive line depth and versatility.

It makes Alabama offensive lineman Evan Neal and North Carolina State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu legitimate possibilities.

Ekwonu is the best run blocker in this class and could start his rookie season at guard before kicking outside to left tackle when Cam Robinson departs in 2023.

As for Neal, he’s better in pass protection and started at multiple spots during his collegiate career in Alabama.

Jacksonville you’re on the clock!

Jaguars Draft Needs

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2022 NFL Draft will be the 87th annual meeting of National Football League franchises to select newly eligible players.

The draft is scheduled to be held in Paradise, Nevada, from April 28–30, 2022.

For the second year in a row the Jacksonville Jaguars hold the number one overall selection. The Jags are a team with many pressing needs. Let us look at the top two areas of need for the 2022 Jacksonville Jaguars.

 

Wide Receiver: The Jaguars have a potential franchise quarterback in Trevor Lawrence, who they selected first overall in 2021.

They must build the offense around him and keep surrounding him with more weapons. Their wide receiver corps is good but not great.

Jacksonville paid a pile of money to sign Christian Kirk form Arizona. Kirk was never the #1 option in Arizona, but Jacksonville gave him a #1 receiver contract. We shall see how this plays out. The top five receiving prospects in this draft are:

Garrett Wilson/Ohio State University/Projected top ten pick

Jameson Williams/University of Alabama/Projected top fifteen pick

Drake London/University of Southern California/Projected top fifteen pick

Treylon Burks/University of Arkansas/Projected top fifteen pick

Chris Olave/Ohio State University/Projected First Round

 

To get one of the top five rated wide receivers the Jaguars would need to trade down in the draft for a Garrett Wilson and collect draft capital in the process.

If the top five names above, go as projected in the first round where they are slotted could Jacksonville draft former Georgia WR George Pickens with the first pick in the second round #33 to address the need at WR.

Pickens is a stud who ran 4.47 at the combine 11 months removed from a torn ACL. Pickens is a top thirty rated prospect on many NFL draft boards. This is a position of high need for Jacksonville that needs to be addressed in the first two rounds.

 

Offensive Line: The Jaguars need to replenish the offensive line in 2022. Look no further than the University of Alabama’s Evan Neal.

 

Neal’s Draft Profile:

Rating: 92.93 (All-Pro)

Pro Comparison: Bigger Andrew Thomas

Strengths: Insanely large, impossibly twitched up for his size. Carries his weight extremely well. Loose-hipped blocker with effortless power, which makes him a tremendous asset at the second level. High-end recovery skills because of his suddenness. Creates huge arc for rushers to run around to the QB. Balance could use some work. All-Pro upside and is mostly NFL ready.

Weaknesses: Can get a little overanxious at the second level and lunge, and the same is true in pass protection. Anchor is not as sturdy as expected given his size. Occasionally, small speed rushers get the best of him.

Accolades: 2021- Consensus All-America (two sacks allowed in fifteen starts)

Forty career starts (2020 CFP national champion)

Neal has been projected anywhere from the first overall pick to the fifth overall pick in most mock drafts I have seen.

I think Jacksonville should take Neal with the number one overall pick and draft the best wide receiver on their board with the first selection in second round. Then draft additional wide receivers and maybe some help secondary help in the mid to later round.

To take the next step the Jacksonville Jaguars need to provide Trevor Lawrence with some weapons, or you are setting him up for failure.

Southern Draft

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2022 NFL Draft starts April 28th in Nevada. We’re going to take a look around the AFC South to see who the first picks will be for each team.

#1 Jacksonville: The Jaguars (3 – 14) have the top pick in the draft for the second year in a row. Last year they picked Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He struggled in his first season but that’s because they were a bad team with bad coaching.

The Urban Meyer experiment ended during the season. Doug Pederson has been hired to replace him. He won a Super Bowl in Philadelphia, which was the first for the franchise.

“This culture is all about winning. The players here want to win. I want to win. And that’s what I can bring to the Jacksonville Jaguars, to this community, and to our fan base,” Pederson said at his formal introductory press conference, with the former Eagles coach flanked by owner Shad Khan and general manager Trent Baalke.

Jacksonville’s first priority should be a tackle to protect Lawrence. Alabama tackle Evan Neal will be the pick. He’s massive, standing 6’7 and 360 pounds. He’s versatile and he should help improve Jacksonville’s fifth worst third down conversion rate (35.8 percent).

#3 Houston: The Texans (4 – 13) have a ton of needs which also includes a quarterback. The problem is this is not a great quarterback class and rookie signal-caller Davis Mills got better later in the season. I think they’ll draft the best available player which will be someone on defense.

Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux will be a good pick. He’s the best pass rusher in the draft. He’s 6’5, 258 pounds and a great athlete. Last season he had 35 solo tackles, 7 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. He should be an impact player and an immediate starter.

# 26 Tennessee: The Titans (12 – 5) had a surprisingly good year considering star running back Derrick Henry missed several games with an injury. They were the top seed in the AFC and lost to Cincinnati in the divisional round.

Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum would be a good pick. He’s athletic with a mauling mentality, which is perfect for the run game. That would be an ideal fit for the Titans.

Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams might also be a possibility. He tore his ACL in the National Championship Game against Georgia, which unfortunately altered his draft status.

He obviously will need time to recover from his injury, but this may be a bargain for an explosive receiver. Williams had an amazing 2021 season with 79 receptions, 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns.

#47 Indianapolis: The Colts (9 – 8) traded their first-round pick to Philadelphia for quarterback Carson Wentz. The Eagles have the 16th pick and Wentz struggled last season so it may not have been worth it.

Washington corner back Kyler Gordon would be a good selection because he addresses a need. He had 36 solo tackles, 2 interceptions, 7 pass deflections and 1 forced fumble. He’s 6’0 and 200 lbs. so he’s a big corner back.

The New Head Jag

By: Charles Skipper

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Jacksonville Jaguars recently announced the hiring of Doug Pederson as their new Head Coach. Pederson will become the seventh Head Coach of the organization.

Pederson’s hiring comes after Urban Meyer was fired with cause during the 2021 season with the team sporting a 2 – 11 record at the time of his firing.

Meyer brought unwanted negative attention to himself and his team with some of his off the field shenanigans. These actions coupled with lack of respect from his players, treating his assistants and other team employees badly plus poor on the field performance led to owner Shahid Khan showing the Golden Boy of College the door. The firing ended his first and probably his last professional coaching job.

The Jaguars have had a total of six head coaches in the 27-year history of the team. The men whom have been at the helm of the ship in chronological order are Tom Coughlin, Jack Del Rio, Mike Mularkey, Gus Bradley, Doug Marrone and Urban Meyer.

Coughlin was the first and by far the most successful hire for the organization. He had almost complete control of team operations even though he never wore the title General Manager. He commandeered the most successful expansion team in league history.

Jacksonville entered the playoffs with a win in the last game of the season and made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game in only its second year of existence.

Coach Coughlin was fired after a 6 – 10 finish in 2002. He finished his career in Duval with a 68 – 60 regular season record and a 4 – 4 slate in the playoffs. After leaving the Jaguars he went on to coach the New York Giants for 12 years securing 2 Super Bowl victories along the way.

Nineteen seasons and five head coaches later the Jaguars have not been able to equal Coughlin’s four trips to the playoffs. Del Rio with 2 and Marrone with 1 represents all the playoff appearances since their initial success.

Quickly achieved success is not foreign to the fifty-four-year-old Pederson. He led the Eagles to a Super Bowl Title in his second season as leader of that squad.

Coach Pederson spent 13 years in the NFL as a backup quarterback although he did make some starts for the Eagles and Browns during his playing career. He won a Super Bowl ring with the Brett Favre led Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI.

The victory with the Eagles as a Head Coach puts him in the category of only four people to win the ultimate prize as a player and Head Coach.

The new head honcho for Jacksonville and his extensive NFL background is the polar opposite of the College background of Meyer.

Pederson comes to the Jaguars touted as a creative minded offensive play caller. Andy Reid served as mentor to the new Jag leader while he was his assistant at Philadelphia and when he served as his offensive coordinator at Kansas City.

Reid is known as an offensive whiz and Pederson displayed some of those traits while at Philadelphia. The signature play of his team’s Super Bowl victory was run on fourth and goal minutes before halftime. The trick play became known as the Philly Special and will forever be associated with the win.

It remains to be seen if the Jaguars new leader will be able to quickly turn the franchise around like he did the Eagles. I am absolutely certain that they are in better hands than they were heading into the 2021 season.

Who knows? Maybe winning is in the future for the River City gang and the Black, Teal and Gold will become something special to watch.

 

Urban Dumpster Fire

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Urban Meyer is a Hall of Fame college football coach.

He was hired by the Jacksonville Jaguars as head coach in January 2021. Meyer was fired by Jacksonville in December of 2021.

Team owner Shad Khan issued a statement about it.

“After deliberation over many weeks and a thorough analysis of the entirety of Urban’s tenure with our team, I am bitterly disappointed to arrive at the conclusion that an immediate change is imperative for everyone.” Khan said. “I informed Urban of the change this evening. As I stated in October, regaining our trust and respect was essential. Regrettably, it did not happen.”

Darrell Bevell, the offensive coordinator, will serve as interim coach for the remainder of the season, the owner said.

Unfortunately, Meyer has had several controversies during his tenure. Most recently, a report came out this week that former kicker Josh Lambo accused Meyer of kicking him at practice in August. He was released in October after missing all three of his kicks from Week 1 – 3.

Lambo said that Meyer came up to him while he was stretching and said, “Hey Dips–t, make your f–king kicks!”

“And kicks me in the leg,” Lambo said of Meyer.

“Josh’s characterization of me and this incident is completely inaccurate, and there are eyewitnesses to refute his account,” Meyer told the paper. “(General manager) Trent (Baalke) and I met with him on multiple occasions to encourage his performance, and this was never brought up. I was fully supportive of Josh during his time with the team and wish him nothing but the best.”

Lambo went into further detail about the kick.

“Truthfully, I’d register it as a five (out of 10),” Lambo told the paper. “Which in the workplace, I don’t care if it’s football or not, the boss can’t strike an employee. And for a second, I couldn’t believe it actually happened. Pardon my vulgarity, I said, ‘Don’t you ever f–king kick me again!’ And his response was, ‘I’m the head ball coach, I’ll kick you whenever the f–k I want.'”

In February, Meyer hired former Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle to be Jacksonville’s director of sports performances.

Doyle, who was on the staff at Iowa from 1999-2019, was placed on administrative leave by the school in June 2020 after several former Iowa players accused him of racism.

Shortly after, the university and Doyle agreed to part ways. Doyle posted a statement on Twitter at the time — which has since been deleted — saying the accusations about his behavior are “not true.”

A day later Meyer announced Doyle’s resignation from the team.

In October, following a Thursday Night Football game at Cincinnati Meyer did not travel home with his team. He went to a bar in Columbus and a video went viral of him sitting on a stool with a woman dancing on him. This woman was not his wife.

He has also reportedly called his coaches losers and Marvin Jones had to be restrained from him after an intense argument.

Jacksonville was 1 – 15 last year and they have won two games under Meyer. In the end we shall see if he gets another opportunity to return to college or if this is his last job.

Urban-ed Out Jacksonville

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Urban Meyer experiment in Jacksonville seems to be headed in the wrong direction.

Videos popped up on social media last weekend that showed Meyer in a compromising position with a female that is not his wife.

The Jaguars are 0-4 on the season and apparently Meyer stayed behind in Ohio after a loss to Cincinnati last Thursday night.

On Monday’s episode of NFL Live, former NFL player Marcus Spears unloaded on Meyer and explained why he believes he should be removed from his role in Jacksonville.

“Shad Khan, you need to find you a new head coach,” Spears said. “It’s time for Urban Meyer to be dismissed and relieved of his duties. This is not the first distraction. This is not a visceral reaction to what Urban Meyer did, even though there needs to be one to that as well. He brought in a strength coach that had a racist history. He brought in Tim Tebow to play tight end, which he never did in the NFL before. This is a pattern that we’ve seen go on since Urban Meyer took over in Jacksonville…I played football nine years in the NFL. Every head coach I ever had said ‘don’t be the guy to take focus off of what we’re doing as a football team as we try to win games.’ It was a message that resonated throughout every locker room I’ve been. Shad Khan, you on the clock bro. It’s time for you to find a new head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.”

The video clips led Meyer to apologize to his team for becoming a distraction, but that hasn’t seemed to have a positive effect on the national sports media.

Questions and thoughts:

Do you think Meyer has quickly realized that he isn’t cut out for the pro game?

Meyer won everywhere he has been at the college level, but professional athletes get paid big money and you have to deal with them differently from the college player maybe. It just seems that Meyer has struggled from a public relations standpoint since he was named Jaguars head coach.

Is Meyer trying to get fired for cause by the Jags instead of resigning and being viewed as a failure at the NFL level?

I raise the question because Urban Meyer seemed to have his act together when he ran the show at Utah, Florida, and Ohio State.

Big time college jobs like USC are now open which Meyer probably has some interest in.

LSU looks like a train wreck currently and some other jobs like FSU or Miami could come open.

Rumors swirl around Jacksonville that Meyer has lost the Jaguar locker room, and if that is the case then a decision must come quickly by Jaguar ownership.

Great college coaches like Nick Saban and Lou Holtz did not succeed at the NFL level and came back to the college game.

Look at Arkansas, Notre Dame, and South Carolina under Holtz, and Saban has won more National Championships at Alabama than Bear Bryant did.

Could Urban just resign and go after the USC job?

I’m thinking that may be a real possibility now. Meyer does not seem to be a good fit for the NFL, but could take the USC job and build that program back into a national power.

He has always been able to recruit the elite athlete and he is suited for the college game much better than the dumpster fire he has created in Jacksonville.

The man looks like he is having a root canal without local anesthetic on the sidelines in Jacksonville.

The 57-year-old Meyer seems to have plenty of fire left in the tank based on the videos that surfaced so “chest pains” seem to be out of the question for now.

Shad Khan the ball is in your court.

Change Is Coming

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

One would think that if you are still a Jacksonville Jaguars fan (as I am), you would have developed a bit more patience.

Imagine being a Jaguars fan that went into a coma after the 1999 season. You’ve experienced four straight playoff appearances, back-to-back division championships, two trips to the AFC Championship game, and an overall record of 49-31. The franchise looks primed for a long stretch of success on the gridiron.

Now imagine that fan coming out of that coma Thursday night.

The Jags have only had four winning seasons in the last 21 years. Only three trips to the post-season. I don’t even want to add up the win/loss record in this stretch (I’m not THAT much of a sports self-flagellator).

Gus Bradley. Doug Marrone. Mike Mularkey.

Oh, and Myles Jack wasn’t down.

And now, we have this season. We started the season with a highly-touted franchise quarterback. A new head coach with a top-notch college resume. Dare I say it, hope. Things, on paper, looked good.

And then, reality. An opening game loss to a Houston Texans team in a Jaguars-esque state of franchise chaos, followed by a week two loss to the Broncos, and a second-half collapse against the Cardinals.

Which brings us to Thursday night. Sometimes, being a Dawg fan prepares you for being a Jags fan. Remember the meme that was making the rounds after the 2018 SEC Championship game? Georgia and Alabama have played 120 minutes in the past two games. Georgia has led or been tied for 119 of those minutes and lost both games.

Wanna hear it sound even better? In those last two games the teams have combined for 290 plays. Alabama has had the lead for 9 (3%) of those.

Oof. Not “woof.” Oof.

Thursday night was like that for the Jags. They were tied or had the lead for the full 60 minutes of that game. The winning kick for Cincy crossed the goalposts as the clock read 0:00. It was the only play of the game that the Bengals were in the lead, and unfortunately, it was the only play that mattered.

And out come the boo birds. The defeatists. The naysayers. The fans that were expecting the franchise to immediately turn around with the arrival of Coach Meyer and T-Law, calling both men “mistakes” and “failures” with ¾ of a season still to play. Armchair GMs decreeing that the Jags are going to go nowhere with either one.

To quote our Commander-In-Y’know-The-Thing; “C’mon, man!”

Let’s be honest, Duval. We are on a 19-game losing streak. We didn’t get here by making smart choices. But change *IS* coming, just not overnight. To make my point, I implore you to look at the 1999 season.

Not ours, but Indianapolis’ 1999 season, otherwise known as “Peyton’s Rookie Year.”

The best forehead in the history of the NFL led his team to a 3-13 record. He threw two more interceptions than touchdowns. He finished the year with a 71.2 QB rating. And just look where he went from there.

Oh, and that same 1999 season, Bill Belicheck was unemployed. His win-loss record after five years in Cleveland was 36-44. Heck, his first season in New England looked like more of the same – 5-11 and last place in the division.

True, the last two decades of football on the banks of the St. Johns River have given us precious little reason to have hope for the future.

Four games into a career is not the time to give up on our new coach and QB. You’ve held on to that glimmer of hope thus far, keep the faith. Change is coming.

Just maybe not this year.

Down South

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Week 1 of the NFL is in the books. We have some early takeaways from each team. Let’s take a look at the AFC South to see if any of the teams are contenders.

Arizona Cardinals 38, Tennessee Titans 13: Tennessee received a lot of hype in the offseason. They traded for Julio Jones. Paired with A.J. Brown, several analysts speculated they were the best wide receiver duo in the league.

Derrick Henry led the league in rushing in 2020 with over 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns. Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith left to take the head coach position in Atlanta. Todd Downing has taken over as OC and things did not go well in the opening game.

They fell behind early and could not establish the run like they wanted. Henry rushed for 58 yards on 17 carries.

Chester Rogers led the team in receiving with 62 yards. Chandler Jones single-handedly terrorized the offense with 5 sacks. Ryan Tannehill complete 21 of 35 passes for 212 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

The Titans had questions on defense going into the season and they still do. Kyler Murray threw for 289 yards, 4 touchdowns, completed 66% of his passes and he ran for another score. Chase Edmonds only had 12 carries but he out-gained Henry with 63 yards.

Seattle Seahawks 28, Indianapolis Colts 16: Philip Rivers retired, and the Colts acquired Carson Wentz. He did not play well his last couple of seasons in Philadelphia, so he is trying to regain his confidence.

The Colts have one of the best defenses, but they could not stop Seattle. Russell Wilson completed 78% of his passes for 254 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Chris Carson had 16 carries for 91 yards. Tyler Lockett caught 4 passes for 100 yards and 2 TD’s.

Wentz threw for 251 yards and 2 touchdowns. He attempted 38 passes, which is more attempts than Indy wants.

Starting left tackle Eric Fisher did not play and he was under constant pressure. Running back Jonathan Taylor had 17 carries for 56 yards.

Houston Texans 37, Jacksonville Jaguars 21: Jacksonville has Urban Meyer in his first year as a professional coach. They drafted Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft and he’s the opening day starting quarterback. They are coming off of a 1 – 15 season, so they have several holes to fill on the roster.

Lawrence completed 55% of his passes for 332 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He had 51 pass attempts which is too many for a rookie QB to be successful.

“Losing is always hard, especially when you feel like you are prepared and had a great week,” Lawrence said. “I really think we were ready and obviously didn’t play well. It starts with me. I didn’t play well, for sure.”

Jacksonville had 10 penalties which is uncharacteristic for a team coached by Meyer.

Houston is not playing star quarterback Deshaun Watson because of open sexual assault allegations.

Veteran Tyrod Taylor is the starter and he passed for 291 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brandin Cooks had a monster day with 5 catches and 132 yards. Mark Ingram II ran for 85 yards and a TD.

Tennessee and Indy are still the best teams in the division. The Colts have a brutal schedule though and play the Rams next.

It doesn’t get much easier for the Titans because they play Seattle on the road. Houston travels to Cleveland Week 2. Jacksonville hosts Denver next and that’s a game they can win.