Sam's Commentary

April 11, 2014 Commentary Archive

Jaguars Buzz is Real

by Sam Kouvaris
Posted April 11, 2014 ===========================================================================

It's been a while since there was this kind of buzz around the Jaguars. While the national media has always considered putting a team in Jacksonville "a mistake" and has always looked at Jacksonville as an outpost, they couldn't ignore the early success the franchise had particularly in 1996 and 1999.

Although they tried.

In '96 the Jaguars post-season success was considered a fluke but when you look back at the talent on those teams and how they won games at Buffalo and Denver in the playoffs, it's easy to see why they had that kind of success.

They were that good.

A talented quarterback, a hot running back and an opportunistic defense took them to the AFC Championship game. A couple of mistakes against the Patriots in New England in the bitter cold gave rise to the national chorus of "they were lucky and too young." But it's clear by looking at subsequent successful teams that the Jaguars deserved to be there.

In '99 they were the best team in the league, hands down. Before their salary cap problems came home to roost and injuries took away some of their key players, this was the year they were dominant. But of course the national discourse was how easy the Jaguars schedule was during the regular season. A 14-2 record (both losses to Tennessee) gave them the division championship and a first round bye. When Miami came to town with Dan Marino on a roll, the Jaguars might be in trouble. Instead, again with a Pro Bowl quarterback, a hot running back, two talented receivers and an opportunistic defense the Jaguars dismantled the Dolphins 62-3.

Hosting the AFC Championship against Tennessee the Jaguars led at halftime but Head Coach Tom Coughlin gave them no credit in the locker room at intermission, highlighting their mistakes instead of their lead and they were dominated in the second half, losing their second chance at a trip to the Super Bowl in three years.

Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher called Jacksonville their "other home stadium" fueling the rivalry during Tennessee's Super Bowl week. It was as much of a shot at Coughlin as anything. Their relationship might be different now as they're both coaches on other clubs but at the time Fisher told friends he thoroughly enjoyed beating the Jaguars because Coughlin "acted like he @*&%! Invented football."

I get asked all the time why the Jaguars don't get any credit from the national networks and reporters. First of all, we're not New York or Miami or Dallas or anywhere else in the league with restaurants and late night bars and adult entertainment. Most reporters coming to town to do a story go from the airport to the Hyatt to the stadium, back to the Hyatt and back to the airport. That route is no showcase for the city, but that's pretty true just about everywhere. Nobody makes it to the Southside, the beaches, Riverside or San Marco, the river or anywhere else things are happening.

Also, as an organization, the Jaguars have never been stocked with "insiders." The guys who talk about this team or that on the pregame shows on Sunday or on ESPN or the NFL Network rely on information from confidants in the league. The Jaguars were never stocked in the front office with those types who were chummy with anybody else in the league. When Coughlin was the GM as well as the Head Coach, he demanded that the team speak with one voice. Consequently, if there was information out there about his team that he didn't reveal, he knew exactly where it came from.

So it didn't happen.

Shack Harris, Gene Smith and Jack Del Rio weren't "connected" throughout the league so juicy tidbits about the Jaguars were non-existent. And it didn't help that the team was average to bad in those years as well. On top of that the other front office personnel with knowledge of what was going on were a banker and a lawyer who had somehow convinced Wayne Weaver that they knew something about football and running a team.

Recently there's been a lot more information and chatter about the Jaguars movements in the offseason and their prospects for the future. Part of that is because of the free agents they've signed. All will be instant contributors if not starters for the 2014 team and the personnel types in the media have lauded the quality of player the Jaguars are seeking and signing.

Obviously, Gus Bradley's engaging personality helps when it comes to PR but Dave Caldwell's connection to Bill Polian and Thomas Dimitroff gives him the appearance of an NFL "insider." And that's what is helping cause that "buzz" around the Jaguars. Caldwell has plenty of name recognition and respect around the league. Not because he's done anything, but because Polian and Dimitroff are telling everybody who's asking that Caldwell is the real deal.

Last year's draft class is, so far, a step in the right direction for showing that Caldwell does have the goods to get the job done. This year's free agency signings look like the second step in that process.

So don't be surprised if this year's national coverage of the Jaguars includes a lot of raised eyebrows and "I told you so" moments with everybody taking credit for knowing that the Caldwell/Bradley combination would work. We'll also get a lot of that, "There's something going on in Jacksonville" storyline.

Which happens to be true.

Commentary by Sam Kouvaris

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ARCHIVE of The College Weekly Report

04-04-2014 - Final Four Bigger in Big 'D'
03-28-2014 - Gators in Elite Eight: Want More
03-27-2014 - Gators vs. UCLA: Toughest Test Yet
03-26-2014 - Bradley Looking To Upgrade Team, Self
03-23-2014 - Gators Change Mindset, Beat Pitt
03-21-2014 - Gators "Survive and Advance"
03-20-2014 - Gators Ranking Doesn't Matter
03-19-2014 - Gators in Orlando For NCAA's
03-14-2014 - Jaguars Free Agency: Impressed, Not Surprised
03-12-2014 - Gabbert Gone
03-08-2014 - Gators Still "Chasing Greatness"
02-27-2014 - "Personal Foul" on the Dutch
02-22-2014 - NASCAR: Looking To The Past To Find The Future
02-13-2014 - Jax: An Events Town"
02-05-2014 - National Signing Day: "Mark Your Calendar!"
01-07-2014 - As Good As It Gets: FSU Wins National Championship
01-06-2014 - FSU vs. Team of Destiny
01-05-2014 - Fisher/Malzahn, FSU/Auburn Contrast in Style
01-05-2014 - FSU A Close-Knit Group
01-02-2014 - Jaguars Talking Vs. Doing:
Does Bradley's "Conviction" Mean Jaguars Wins Are On The Way?
12-29-2013 - Decisions to Make: Jaguars Need A Lot
12-23-2013 - Meester's Day
12-22-2013 - Jaguars Don't Have Enough
12-20-2013 - Jaguars: Who Wants To Be Here?
12-19-2013 - Meeter Retires: The REAL Pride of the Jaguars
12-15-2013 - Jaguars: Three Forward One Back
12-06-2013 - Jaguars Beat Texans Again: Learning How to Win
12-01-2013 - Florida/FSU: Different Directions?
11-18-2013 - Jaguars 2nd Half: "Better But Not Good"
11-14-2013 - Locker Room Culture: Off Limits?
11-10-2013 - Jaguars Victory: A Lot More Than Just One Win
11-03-2013 - Do We Worry About Blackmon?
11-02-2013 - Florida/Georgia: It's Never Easy
10-27-2013 - Jaguars in London: Fun & Frustration:Equal Parts of Both
10-26-2013 - Jacksonville's on a Global Stage
10-25-2013 - Shad Khan "Living The Dream"
10-03-2013 - Jaguars Building for the "Distant" Future
09-30-2013 - Jaguars: Not Getting Better Soon
09-23-2013 - Jaguars Results Not Unexpected
09-17-2013 - Jaguars Ups and Downs
09-10-2013 - Not What They Were Expecting
09-07-2013 - Jaguars Give Reason For Hope
08-25-2013 - "Better and Improved": The Jaguars Buzzwords
08-21-2013 - Jaguars 2013: It's Not About Winning
08-12-2013 - Jaguars Assessment: Is "Not Terrible" Fair?
08-01-2013 - Jaguars Camp: No Surprises But Not Routine
07-26-2013 - Gus Bradley's First Camp: "Slow Down!"
07-20-2013 - Big Thinking Khan Style
06-20-2013 - Its Summer, It's Hot, No Kidding!
05-31-2013 - The Ever Expanding "Season"
05-15-2013 - The Players: One Of A Kind
05-01-2013 - Tiger At The Players
05-08-2013 - Jaguars Needs: Everything
04-03-2013 - Golf in North Florida: It is & isn't all about The Players
01-30-2013 - Players Win Games

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