Why the Jacksonville Jaguars Aren't As Far Away As People Think
What else can you say? It's been a tough year for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
From Bill Simmons' Grantland assault of the team to the 0-7 record, it seems like Jaguars fans have plunged deeper into the depths of football purgatory than ever before this season.
Football purgatory, an appalling place where everyone wears Tim Couch jerseys and if you listen closely, you can still hear the voices of Bobby Petrino and June Jones echoing through the halls.
For Jaguars fans, these days spent in purgatory can seem worse than your wife making you skip out on football to go antiquing. But to quote the iconic Henry Ford, "When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it."
It's time for Jaguars fans to look at the glass as half full and realize that this team isn't as far away from finding success as some people might think.
From the prospect of drafting a franchise quarterback to having a head coach who knows how to shake things up, it seems like the Jaguars are finally rebuilding the right way.
With a net worth of $3.8 billion, according to Forbes.com, 63-year-old Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is exactly what this franchise needs.
Aside from bringing a sense of financial stability to the Jaguars, Khan's grandeur vision of where he wants to take this franchise is outlandish and refreshing.
For Jaguars fans, news like this is extraordinarily positive. Building this organization into a worldwide brand is exactly the type of forward-thinking Khan brings to the Jaguars.
And while there will always be rumors of the team relocating to London or Los Angeles, for now you can rest easy knowing that Khan has said publicly that he is committed to the city of Jacksonville.
With general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley running the show, there's no doubt that Khan is focused on turning this franchise around.
Changing the Culture with Gus Bradley
If there's one guy who has stood tall throughout the chaotic 2013-14 season, it's been head coach Gus Bradley.
Brought in to help eradicate the losing ways of this organization, there's no question that Bradley is the right man for the job.
From his elite defensive pedigree to the time he spent with the Seattle Seahawks, Bradley understands what the right kind of change looks like—and Jaguars owner Shad Khan knows this.
Talking with Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union, Khan said, "I thought Dave and Gus were absolutely the two right guys for the job and as the season has unfolded, if I could be convinced more, I am."
With general manager David Caldwell and Khan in his corner, watching Bradley rattle the culture and do his best to turn this team around will make the pain of this season worth it.
Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts
Accruing talent in the NFL is obviously a major part of being a successful franchise. Whether you're luring in free agents or building your roster through the draft, the goal is always to load up on talented players.
While there may not be a lot of bright spots on this Jaguars roster, two players who stand out above the rest are wide receivers Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts.
Racking up 25 catches for 384 yards receiving on 38 targets in just three games, Blackmon has been a offensive savant since coming off of suspension.
On film, it's easy to see why he's enjoying so much success in his second season.
Blackmon's vision, outstanding body control and route-running ability allows him to separate from defenders with ease. In the NFL, it's tough to stop anyone who has that lethal combination of physical skills and football smarts on a weekly basis.
Standing across the field from Blackmon is Mount Union's very own, Cecil Shorts.
While he doesn't have the physical prowess that Blackmon does, Shorts has exceptionally good hands and doesn't mind making plays in the middle of the field.
Watching him work on film, those attributes mixed in with his deceptive quickness make him a quarterback's best friend.
If we dig a little deeper and use Pro Football Focus' advanced metrics (subscription required), Blackmon and Shorts both have positive grades for the season.
That means even on a bad offense, these two young men continue to grow as players and produce at a high level.
Tank for Teddy
If you live under a rock like The Flintstones and don't follow college football, then the name Teddy Bridgewater might not mean anything to you.
But for those who have followed this young quarterback's rise from the University of Louisville to the top of many 2014 NFL draft boards, you understand why Bridgewater could be the next big thing.
For the Jaguars, the chance to draft Bridgewater is really the ultimate sign that things will get better.
Want proof? Look no further than last season.
Coming off a 2-14 season, the Indianapolis Colts went out and drafted quarterback Andrew Luck with the first overall pick in the 2012 draft. The result? The Colts went 11-5 last season and found their way back into the playoffs.
While more times than not a rookie quarterback won't take a team from the basement to a gorgeous penthouse in his first season, drafting Bridgewater would give this team a renewed sense of energy.
Instead of Jaguars fans having to watch Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne struggle, they might get the chance to watch Bridgewater throw passes to Blackmon and Shorts for a long time.
For the Jaguars, the rebuilding process finally began this season. With 10 picks in the upcoming 2014 NFL draft, this new regime will have another chance to help this ailing roster improve.
Led by Khan, Caldwell and Bradley, it seems like the right guys are in place to change the culture.
A turnaround is closer than you think. But in order to find their way out of football purgatory, they first must find their franchise quarterback.
Money, culture and offensive weapons aside, the importance of bringing stability to the quarterback position is the one factor that can't be overlooked.
*All stats courtesy of NFL.com unless noted otherwise.
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