Jacksonville Jaguars: Just Show Us Progress Tonight Against the Saints

David LevinSenior Writer IIAugust 17, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 10:  Cornerbac Aaron Ross #20 of the Jacksonville Jaguars rushes quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants during a pre-season football game August 10, 2011 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Ross was penalized for a helmet hit on the play. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Let me let you in on a little secret. Just between you and me, the Jacksonville Jaguars do not need to win tonight in New Orleans. All they need to do is play well and show improvement from last week.

After coming out of the gate firing on more cylinders than last season, it appears there is hope for this team as it heads into the 2012 regular season. And it also seems the offense will have more firepower than the puttering it did last season under Jack Del Rio and Dirk Koetter.

I’ll let you in on another secret. I believe the coaching staff knew it was finished and on its last legs and did not work as hard to game plan as it should have. Koetter is a much better coordinator than he showed last season. But the past is in the past and now it’s time to move forward.

These aren’t your Jaguars of last season, holding out hope there will be more than five wins and more production on the offensive side of the ball.

THAT is what we need this week against the New Orleans Saints and heading toward the start of the regular season.

But last week's success is tempered with cautious optimism. If you are a fan, you love the 32 points the team put on the scoreboard. If you are the coaching staff, you are worried about injuries on the offensive line, the secondary (Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox) and the fact Maurice Jones-Drew is still sitting in California.

So looking forward to the game tonight, the progress rests in two areas; the need for Blaine Gabbert to show more improvement like he did in his first drive against the Giants, and in the receiving game where Justin Blackmon will be on the field for the first time with free agent addition Laurent Robinson and Mike Thomas in the fray.

It should be exciting.

On the defensive side, we want to see more consistency in the pass rush and four true starters to emerge from the secondary.

There are some really good, talented players on this team and we might see street free agents make an impact, but it is also too early in the process to see who they will be yet.

New Orleans is a hard place to earn a victory, let alone come into the Big Easy with a young team and expect to just run into town with ease. The Jaguars did hold the Saints to 23 points last year, which seemed like a moral victory in Blaine Gabbert’s first start as a rookie.

But, I will let you in on another little secret. There are no moral victories in the NFL. A win is a win and a loss is a loss.

But in this case, looking good in a loss is much better than looking bad in a win.