By: Rob Johnson (@RJ1452)
Following the thirteenth game of the season, many fans are now focused on 2013, as the Jaguars are an embarrassing 2-11 with three games remaining. I want to write that I believe the Jags can win one more game to finish the season at 3-13, but I can't convince myself of that.
Anything is possible, but not everything is likely. The harsh realities of additional injuries to an already thin team and a quarterback that can't take advantage of an opportunity to revive his career provide an unfortunate reality for fans.
The all black uniforms of the Jaguars are perfect for this team. Sunday was somber and there is no reason to think that the mourning will cease this year.
Three weeks ago, I provided reasons to watch the Jags and followed that with some optimism that Henne could provide a spark to make the final weeks of the season entertaining. The latter isn't happening.
The remaining home game is against New England, and regardless of playoff seedings, the Patriots aren't losing to the Jaguars. This week's opponent, the Dolphins, went from a Hard Knocks joke to a team that has won five games, three of which came against common opponents of the Jags (Raiders 35-13, Bengals 17-13 and Jets 30-9).
The final game of the year is in Tennessee against the Titans. Even with the motivation of pride and a potential change of scenery next season for many players, I doubt we see the Jaguars claim victory. "See" is probably the wrong word. It's unlikely many televisions in Jacksonville will have that game on.
What are fans to do? Who is going to comfort and reassure them in their time of need? Who will become the face and voice of the franchise?
Jags fans need to know that the team is in good hands, changes are coming and that a plan is being developed for making the future bright. Right now, the Jaguars are a large ship lost at sea with a missing captain and first mate along with a crew incapable of re-setting the course.
Here's a less dramatic question: Who is going to just speak to Jags fans?
Mike Mularkey is dealing with a medical issue, so his role won't be expanded, not that it would have been anyway. Mularkey is not a public relations dynamo.
What about the despised Gene Smith? Where has he been hiding? Even before the season became a complete disaster, Smith wasn't calling or visiting the 1010XL studios to chat nor was he making any other media rounds. With him hunkered down in the bowels of EverBank Field hoping the storm passes without making him a casualty, Smith surely isn't going to speak now.
I know from personal experience that Jaguars President Mark Lamping is a tremendous communicator. His duties don't include football operations, but he can handle the media and relay a positive and realistic message to fans. Perhaps, Lamping's role needs to be expanded.
Then again, the answer to all of this is simple. I wrote about in early October. Shahid Khan needs to become front and center on a weekly basis through the end of the season and continue with bi-monthly updates as the new year begins.
Mr. Khan has made it clear that he doesn't know football. However, he does know business, relationships and how to sell. Mr. Khan needs to begin a campaign to salvage the dignity of the franchise immediately.
I'm confident that, behind the scenes, Mr. Khan is preparing a game plan for the future. In fact, he's likely already implementing some of it. While Mr. Khan doesn't need to relay details to fans, he does need to reassure them, as well as all Jacksonville and London citizens, that 2013 will be the beginning of a new era.
Three more weeks of silence leading into an off-season of inconsistent communication is not good for anyone. Mr. Khan must not only embrace the role of master and commander but also master communicator. If this isn't possible due to his other commitments, then he need to designate someone for this role.
The gap between the team and its fans can't be allowed to get any wider, because insubordination is near. That will sink this ship.
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