JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sunday's home opener for the Jaguars may be the most important home game the team has played in a decade, and not just because of what it could mean for the team in the AFC South standings.
The Jaguars began the season by surprising the Texans and most of the rest of the NFL with a dominating 29-7 victory in Houston. If the Jaguars can win Sunday against the Titans, they will have started the year with back-to-back victories over the two teams that were most commonly picked to win the division in 2017.
The Jaguars know that the win would mean a lot for the team. It would also mean a lot to the city.
"The least we can do is give them a win, give them something to look forward to, something positive," said linebacker Myles Jack. "This city is more than deserving, they waited long enough to give them a win, and that's the plan this year and that's what we are trying to do."
The Jaguars preparations for the week two matchup with Tennessee actually started before they left for Houston. Anticipating that they would be delayed getting back to Jacksonville, the coaches had their preparation material ready.
"Our ops people did a great job of giving us offices at the hotel, so really what we missed was about four hours of work. We made that up on Tuesday," said defensive coordinator Todd Wash. "Obviously we have to deal with some family situations and everything, but it's a normal work week for us, no excuses."
Some of the Jaguars players spent time this week helping those who were impacted by the storm. Running back Leonard Fournette, who was affected by Hurricane Katrina while growing up in Louisiana, helped pass out water and supplies to people at the Legend's Center shelter on Soutel Drive.
"It was a great feeling getting that call and asking them if they would receive my help," Fournette said. "It was a blessing."
While most of the Jaguars haven't been personally impacted by a hurricane in the past, several saw some of the damage left in Irma's wake upon their return on Tuesday, two days later than they would typically return from a Sunday road game.
"We were driving past M.L.K. and I saw some trees knock down a lot of stuff," Jack said. "In my neighborhood there was some trees down, but just coming back and seeing the aftermath, it kind of gave you a moment to yourself and just be thankful for everything."
Now, it's up to the Jaguars players to give the Jaguars fans a moment to celebrate, even as many residents are trying to clean up and rebuild after the worst storm in Jacksonville in generations.