JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Some Jaguars fans don’t have high expectations for the team this season, but maybe Jacksonville’s first game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday could change some minds.
“If you don’t expect us to do well, then I consider that we can surprise you," said Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark. "But I don’t think that anyone that really, really supports us would be surprised.”
The Jaguars have had an offseason full of change — and not just because of COVID-19. The team has moved on from many veteran players, leading some fans to think the team is “tanking” for Trevor Lawrence, the Clemson quarterback who many believe will be the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
“How big of underdogs are we? I [haven’t been] paying attention, so maybe it motivates us, but I really think our attention isn’t on that," Chark said.
While fans have been talking about tanking, the Jaguars are talking about winning.
Just a few days ago during a news conference, Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said not to count this team out.
So even though some fans may have lost hope, the Jaguars have not.
“You always have to have hope, otherwise you’re in the wrong business. We’re very optimistic going into the season. We know we have a lot of challenges. We have some youth playing, but really, I think the biggest reason for belief I have is the offensive line," said Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
“I mean, again, everyone else will judge what’s fair, and I should be looking at and all that stuff. I understand it, but I really think that this team can be special, I really do. And that’s what I feel, that’s what we put together. I don’t have the opportunity to go through a rebuild, right. I mean, we all know that, so that’s being realistic. We’ve got to go out there and win games and I’m confident that this football team will be able to do that,” said Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone.
With 16 rookies on the roster and an undrafted draft free agent slated to start at running back, it is easy to see why some fans think the team is tanking. But perhaps Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II said it best when he said that with youth comes a different level of energy.