By Calvin Palmer
A week ago I called for the resignation of the Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio should the Jaguars lose to the Indianapolis Colts.
In one of the greatest comebacks since Lazarus, the Jaguars yesterday secured a memorable 31-28 victory thanks to Josh Scobee’s 59-yard field goal in the dying seconds of the game.
The Jaguars were unrecognizable from the team that was humiliated last week by the Philadelphia Eagles.
How much of that transformation is down to Del Rio is hard to say but the win has secured him a reprieve but he is no means off the hook.
Defeating the Colts has given the Jaguars a much needed boost but the big test comes next Sunday in Buffalo.
The Jaguars have something of a reputation of raising their game against the big boys in the NFL, the Colts are the defending AFC Champions, and then becoming ludicrously charitable to struggling teams. The Bills are winless this season after four games.
At the post-game news conference after yesterday’s 38-14 defeat by the New York Jets, Bills coach Chan Gailey said: “We were a bad football team today. When we protected, we couldn’t catch it. We couldn’t protect.
“We had people going into the wrong spots, getting to the wrong people.
“We couldn’t get off the field on third down. We couldn’t convert a third down.
“We were not good on special teams.
“We turned the ball over twice. We didn’t get any turnovers.
“We got sacked three times. We didn’t get any sacks.
“If you play that way, you’re not going to win. You’re not even going to look decent in this league.”
When asked if the Bills are the worst team in the NFL, Gailey was unable to say that they were not.
So it would appear the Bills are a prime candidate for the largesse of the Jaguars, if the Jaguars live up to their reputation of old.
One man can change that perception – Del Rio.
Yesterday’s win against the Colts has raised the bar on the expectations of the Jaguars fans. They tasted the euphoria of victory and like it. A defeat at the hands of the winless Bills would be a bigger embarrassment than the one the Jaguars fans endured against the Eagles. For Del Rio and the Jaguars players defeat against the Bills is not an option.
A lot of pundits claim Jacksonville is not an NFL city. Those pundits should have been at EverBank Field yesterday. The noise the fans generated during the game was at times deafening. If you don’t believe me just ask Peyton Manning.
But it was what came after the game had finished that really impressed me. In all the NFL games I have attended since moving to America, Dallas Cowboys games before moving to Jacksonville, I have never before witnessed such passion and emotion by a crowd.
Walking down the ramps to leave the stadium, the fans were in full cry, chanting “We are – Jaguars!” It was an incredible atmosphere and reminded me of English soccer supporters. Few sports fans in the world match their level of passion.
I should imagine a lot of people in Jacksonville went to work this morning with a big smile on their faces and a spring in their step.
The Jaguars fans are hungry for success. They are playing their part in the team’s revival but Del Rio is the orchestrator of their hopes and dreams. It is up to him, and the team, to deliver.