Jack Del Rio (Phil Coale/AP)
Just two weeks ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars looked like a destitute team as they were getting buried in their home opener by the defending NFC champion Cardinals, and their stadium was half-filled with fans.
A week later the Jaguars were in a much more competitive game with the Houston Texans, at Reliant Stadium, a place where the team has won just once under head coach Jack Del Rio. A second half defensive stand allowed the team to taste victory for the first time this season.
"We had a big win down there in Houston, and it was imperative that we take that and come out and execute and give ourselves a chance and I think we did that today."
As the Jaguars were trying to protect a late lead, the Texans scored a touchdown which was then called back on a questionable offensive pass interference penalty. Houston would fumble away the ball just two plays later and the Jaguars had their first victory of the season.
"That goal line was a really big turning point," Jaguars defensive lineman John Henderson said. "Just trying to get the ball, trying to stop them. They had a good thing on the left side, they knocked that ball out and that was a great feeling."
The Jaguars have taken the momentum from the Houston victory and managed to continue with it as they steamrolled the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, evening their record to 2-2.
"There's a good group of men in there who've been working hard," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said. "Nice to get the win today. I don't think there's any question about our desire, our willingness to work, our wanting very badly to win. I'm really proud of the guys. I'm really proud of the guys for fighting hard, staying together and continuing to work."
It appears as if the Jaguars have turned a corner as their offense is finally clicking and Mike Sims-Walker is looking like the number one receiver that the Jaguars envisioned when they drafted him in the third round three seasons ago.
"I've been saying it throughout OTA's and training camp, Mike Sims-Walker is a weapon and we have to be able to use him, and now he's just being used," Jaguars quarterback David Garrard said. "When he's not hurt and he's on the field playing, he's one of the best."
The Jaguars defense appears to be coming together as well, as everyone is finding their right spots in the 3-4. Derrick Harvey seems to fit in best as a stand-up 3-4 outside linebacker, and John Henderson has done a fantastic job transitioning to defensive end, a position he had never played prior to this year.
What's even better for the team is that the upcoming schedule certainly seems to comply as they travel to a reeling Seattle team with an injured quarterback before coming home to play the hapless St. Louis Rams.
To put it simply, the Jaguars could be 4-2 entering the bye week with a trip to Tennessee looming. Whereas people around Jacksonville were talking about the Jaguars being associated with the number one pick in the draft just two weeks ago, now the talk of postseason play in far from out of bounds.
"I know, record-wise, the AFC South is off to a slow start," Del Rio said. "But I think there are a lot of good football teams in that division. I think it's got good groups from top to bottom. They're usually good contests when we get together and certainly today had to be entertaining to watch.
Are the Jaguars a legitimate postseason threat? It's hard to make that point by watching this team, but the schedule is seemingly compliant, and the point of reference would be last season's Miami Dolphins, who feasted on one of the weakest schedules of all time and some timely turnover luck. One thing we do know is that the 25,000 or so fans that have been staying home are missing an ascending football team.