When I walked into school this morning in my Jacksonville Jaguars sweatshirt, I was greeted with a different cheer.
It was not the normal "Jags suck" talk that I have heard all last year and in the first three weeks of this season.
It was a response of respect.
I go to high school in a Baltimore Ravens/Washington Redskins fanbase, with the occasional Philadelphia, New England, or Pittsburgh fan. Most people never seem to share the same views that I do for the Jaguars.
But coming off a huge win over the Titans, I was greeted with, "Yeah, the Jags are going to be pretty good this year."
This is what happens when David Garrard has now thrown for six TDs and one pick this season, which is eerily similar to '07.
If you take away the game against Indianapolis, Garrard is on pace for, you guessed it, 18 TDs and four INTs.
It should, because those were his '07 numbers plus one INT. (Then again, his one INT this season came on fourth down when he was just trying to make a play.)
But the thing is, it's not just Garrard. It's not just MJD. It's not just Mike Sims-Walker. It's not just Mike Thomas showing off his specialized positions. It's not just quality tight end play from Ernest Wilford and Marcedes Lewis. It's not just Torry Holt, Greg Jones, or even Rashad Jennings. It's not just the offensive line.
It's all of them playing at a high level that is very comparable to the '07 team.
Take a look at these offensive stats:
11th in points scored: After only scoring 12 in the first game, that's impressive.
10th in yards per game
13th in passing yards per game
Ninth in rush yards
Those are impressive numbers, considering that when those numbers are averaged together, they equal the 10.75th best offense in the league. That's '07 form, my friends.
That's why I'm excited.
The defense is forcing turnovers. In the first four games the Jaguars have forced nine turnovers, which is just about two a game.
Two turnovers a game is a very good stat to stand by. With Garrard on pace to only throw three or four INTs this year, that would mean that the Jaguars are on pace to have a plus-28 turnover ratio, and with a fumble here or there at least around plus-20.
A team that has a plus-20 turnover ratio is well on its way to at least competing in the playoffs.
While the defense has not been stellar, ranking 29th in yards per game, they have improved every week and should continue to improve when the Jags face teams like Kansas City, St. Louis, and Cleveland.
The special teams department is also doing a phenomenal job. Mike Thomas looks like he is one tackle away from taking one to the house. He is also doing a fantastic job on offense but shows even more explosion in the special teams department.
Enough cannot be said of Josh Scobee as well. The kicker has been phenomenal this year, only missing on kicks of 63 and 55, but dead on in all the other kicks (except for the one that got blocked). But a more notable statistic was the number of touchbacks for Scobee, as he has a large number of touchbacks, which is huge for the defense.
It gets better: The Jaguars' next four opponents have a combined record of 1-15. A 6-2 record, or at worst a 5-3 record, would put the Jaguars in position to be one of those teams that everyone looks at in week eight and says, oh wow, how did they get that good?
There's one answer: Gene Smith.
Smith may have not only saved the Jags' season, he may have saved the city of Jacksonville from losing its franchise too.
With a quality group of rookies, who may make up the best draft class in the league, and a superstar running back and maybe wide receiver (Mike Sims-Walker looks very, very good right now), and a quarterback who is really not 31 years old but more like 27 or 28 because he didn't start until he was 30, the Jaguars have developed a team that not only looks good, but is also a very enjoyable team to watch.
Maybe the fun passion the Jaguars will bring, coupled with consistent play and fun enjoyable players, will save the team and bring back the passion the city of Jacksonville once had.
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