Maybe the Jacksonville Jaguars are starting to turn things around.
While there are no moral victories in the NFL, the 43-37 loss at the hands of AFC South rival Houston Sunday afternoon may have been the sign head coach Mike Mularkey has been looking for. He is hoping his offensive game plan can work farther south than Atlanta.
That hope and the fact that Chad Henne replaced an injured Blaine Gabbert in the first half of the contest, then threw for 355 yards and tossed in four touchdowns along the way might be the beginning of something new. The performance, one of the best in team history, was helped by the emergence of stud receiver Justin Blackmon, who finally looked like he was worthy of the fifth pick in the April draft.
Suddenly, everything in the passing offense and even the work of Jalen Parmele seemed to fit. The team didn’t look like cellar dwellers; they looked like a true NFL unit.
Yes, even in a loss this was a team worth watching.
Gabbert has been listed as questionable for the game at home against Tennessee, so Henne will start on Sunday. The story was written by the Associated Press and appears on ESPN.com.
This is a team that must see if it can overcome its deficiencies on both sides of the ball (the defense lost this game on Sunday, not the offense) and play for pride, jobs in 2013 and for the love of the game. No, this is not a movie,—if it was, Shane Falco and Johnny Utah are ready and waiting to take snaps from center—but it became a soap opera once the team fired Jack Del Rio and replaced him with Mike Mularkey.
It was a soap opera the minute Shad Khan took over as this team’s owner. It was a soap opera the minute this team did not acquire Tim Tebow (possibly twice) and used a third-round draft pick on a punter instead of a key position player.
Those things happen when a team is still struggling to find its identity 10 weeks into the NFL season. This past weekend, the Jaguars looked as if they had found a reason for playing football. Some of it may be attributed to a change in leadership behind center, and with the naming of Henne as the team starter against Tennessee, maybe that leadership will result in a win at home for the first time since last year.
The cycle of losing must eventually end, as the team is 6-20 since the beginning of last season. The Jaguars are in the same category as the Lions, Bengals and Buccaneers of the past. Incidentally, it would appear all three of those teams are now working to be franchises in the upper echelon of the NFL.
If they can achieve that after years of losing, why can’t this team do the same thing?
Those changes should start now, and Chad Henne could be the catalyst. This season, however poor it has been, may finally have a silver lining. We, as fans, may finally have something to cheer about.
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