The sun is creeping over the side of EverBank Field.
The heat is just starting to beat on the backs of the Jacksonville Jaguars as they go through the motions of stretching. The humidity is thick and the freshly cut grass on the practice field still has a blanket of dew on it to make it feel like it's mid August.
And as each player works on different training routines, there is the constant chatter coming from a bellowing voice that could easily make a child shake.
“Let’s get better.”
It’s the mantra you heard over and over again on Thursday morning from defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. Tucker, who served as head coach for five games last season for these Jaguars, showed true grit and poise when he accepted the same job he had before he became the leader of this team late last season when the Jaguars fired then-coach Jack Del Rio.
How many guys do you know would accept his former position from the same team and then work to make his defensive unit even better than it was last season?
The Jaguars’ defense was pretty good last season, finishing sixth overall in the NFL despite everyone in the world seemingly being injured and the uncertainty of free agents like Jeremy Mincey and Dwight Lowery in the offseason.
Both players re-signed with the team and the Jaguars returned 10 of 11 starters from last year, however the status of linebacker Clint Session is unknown because of concussion symptoms he has had since late last season.
Tucker may be the most important offseason acquisition the team made and that is no lie. Tucker is a major reason there is great optimism the Jaguars defense can be even better than last season. If the offense comes around, then the optimism for this team that finished 5-11 last year could be realized.
Here is one fan who hopes that is the case.
It is also the prevailing mantra of the entire team, one that extends from every position and aspect by which Jacksonville is being judged.
There is too much turmoil and chaos off the field so a strict program will do this team good to realize goals, make young players leaders and veterans more accountable.
And with the drama and soap opera this team has been through since January, a coach like Tucker levels the field for everyone.