The Jacksonville Jaguars do not get much love from the national media.
The franchise is rarely the lead story anywhere, even when the team is winning.
The team's recent headlines were drafting a punter in the third round, the team's first-round selection getting arrested and the holdouts of the star running back and a pretty good kicker. Clearly, none of these are positives.
It's not the media's fault, in all honesty. Being in a small market and never appearing in a Super Bowl does not help any of this.
Since there isn't a lot of coverage of one of the more forgotten teams of the ever-so-popular National Football League, people tend to be misinformed when it comes to the team.
Well, we're here to debunk some of those myths for you all out there who may not get to know about the Jags on a day-to-day basis thanks to the lack of coverage from the national media.
Blaine Gabbert had a rough go of things during his rookie season, but it is way too early to label him as a bad quarterback.
He's not great by any means, but he has the physical ability and the skill set to at least be a good quarterback for the Jaguars.
Just looking at his numbers alone will not reflect that. In 2011, Gabbert threw for 2,214 yards, 12 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and completed only 50.8 percent of his passes. Those are very pedestrian numbers to say the least.
What they don't reflect is the flashes of productivity he had at times during 2011. Against the Steelers specifically, Gabbert had a productive second half against one of the better defenses in the NFL and almost brought the Jaguars back for a victory.
He only completed 12 of 26 passes, but watching the game showed how he improved in the second half from the first.
Another thing his numbers from last season don't reflect is the horribly mismanaged situation he was put in by former head coach Jack Del Rio and the lack of weapons he had at his disposal. While Andy Dalton and Cam Newton had A.J. Green and Steve Smith respectively, Gabbert had Mike Thomas, Mike Sims-Walker and Jason Hill.
The Jaguars finished 5-11 in 2011, but it wasn't for a lack of defense.
The defense, despite being hampered with injuries, showed up every week and did what it could to keep the team in games.
The defense is not as smothering as some of the more notable ones out there, but is very capable of shutting teams down.
The unit finished sixth in the league last season in yards per game (313.0) and third in points per game (16.8). The Jags had two linebackers in Paul Posluszny and Daryl Smith finish with more than 100 tackles.
Unfortunately for the Jags, the offense finished dead last in the NFL.
The reason why the Jags' defense does not grab headlines is because it doesn't make a whole lot of big plays, i.e. sacks and turnovers. Jacksonville finished only 25th in the league with 31 sacks and was 13th in interceptions with 17.
The lack of big plays doesn't mean the defense isn't productive; it was just constantly put in bad situations last season.
Justin Blackmon will not be the No. 1 option for quarterback Blaine Gabbert in 2012.
Despite being the No. 5 overall pick, having a stellar college career and coming into the league with a lot of hoopla, for better or for worse, Blackmon will and should be the No. 2 receiver for the Jaguars at the start of the 2012 season.
The distinction of the No. 1 option belongs to free-agent signing Laurent Robinson.
Unlike Blackmon, Robinson has actually proven that he can be a productive receiver in the NFL. In 2011, Robinson caught 54 passes for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns, which was the reason why the Jaguars went out of their way to land him at the start of free agency.
This is not to say that Blackmon cannot develop into the top option one day. For the sake of the Jaguars and their fanbase, he has to in order to justify being taken No. 5 overall. But at this point in time, Robinson has earned that distinction over Blackmon.
When Shahid Khan purchased the Jaguars from Wayne Weaver, it was with the understanding that the team would stay in Jacksonville.
That is not the only thing standing in the way of the Jaguars skipping town in order to set up shop in Tinseltown, however. There's a little thing called the stadium lease as well. According to this report from Jacksonville.com back in November, a move from Jacksonville any time before 2030 would cost the team a lot of money that they may not be willing to spend.
In reality, the Jaguars may be the least likely of teams to make the move. In my opinion, the most likely is the San Diego Chargers.
The Chargers have an old stadium that the team wants to get out of and the NFL doesn't even want to hold Super Bowls in anymore. They're already in California so it wouldn't be a dramatic geographic move. The franchise started there back in the old American Football League. And it wouldn't affect the division alignment.
All of those things are not the case with the Jaguars. So breathe easy, Jacksonville. You may not be certain whether the Jaguars will be good this season, but you will have a team.
At least through the 2029 season anyway.
The last time the Jaguars won a division title was the glorious season of 1999 when the team finished 14-2.
I don't expect the Jaguars to finally win one in 2012, but there's no reason why they cannot compete in the AFC South this season.
Sure, the Houston Texans are clearly the class of the division and could compete for a conference title before it's all said and done. But outside of them, it is wide open as to who finishes second in the division.
The Indianapolis Colts were dreadful in 2011 and underwent a complete makeover during the offseason. As good as quarterback Andrew Luck could be, he will have his share of growing pains.
The Tennessee Titans are a good team, as they finished 9-7 last season, but they are not expected to take a huge step forward in 2012.
If the right people progress for the Jaguars, they can hang around for a while in the AFC South and at least keep things interesting.