Winless Jaguars on path to making NFL history

The most entertaining aspect of the Jacksonville Jaguars right
now is the team’s mascot.

Yep, that high-flying daredevil who talks trash, makes
outrageous wagers and occasionally shoves opposing players has
produced more highlight clips in 2013 than any of those Jaguars
wearing pads and a helmet.

He’s the best thing going in the River City. And it’s not even
close.

The Jaguars (0-4) have scored a league-low 31 points through
four games – all double-digit losses – and have become the
laughingstock of the league. They can’t run, can’t throw, can’t
stop anyone and can’t do much about it now.

And with the season just a quarter of the way done, talk already
has begun about whether the Jaguars will win a game.

”Nobody likes losing,” tight end Marcedes Lewis said. ”It’s
not a positive 0-4. We’ve just got to keep rolling along and not
worry about the negative noise outside.

”What can we do about that? Nothing! If you worry about that,
then you’ll continue to just be in the dumps, and that’s not what
it’s about.”

Jacksonville is in this position thanks to a rash of poor draft
picks, several failed free-agent signings and three coaching staffs
over the last three years. Former general manager Gene Smith is the
obvious scapegoat, but the blame stretches well beyond how he
shaped the roster. After all, this is a franchise that has missed
the playoffs 11 of the last 13 years, a stretch of futility that
falls on former owner Wayne Weaver as well as former personnel
chief James ”Shack” Harris and fired coaches Jack Del Rio and
Mike Mularkey.

With new general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley in
the early stages of a complete overhaul, the Jaguars have lost
games by 26, 28 and 34 points this season. And many wonder whether
things will get any better, especially since Caldwell traded left
tackle Eugene Monroe to Baltimore on Tuesday for a pair of
third-day draft picks in 2014.

They insist the trade is not a sign of things to come or an
indication that they’ve given up on the season.

”We just don’t care about what people are saying on the
outside,” guard Uche Nwaneri said. ”There are a lot of people who
have a lot of opinions, but a lot of those people have never been
in our positions, so how could they understand what’s going on
here? How could they understand what the vision is here? I don’t
pay attention to it. It has no effect on me.”

The Jaguars do understand that winning is the only thing that’s
going to stop the comparisons to the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who
went 0-14 in their inaugural season, or the 2008 Detroit Lions, the
only team in NFL history to finish 0-16.

”You don’t want to go 0-16,” receiver Cecil Shorts III said.
”You want at least a taste of winning.”

Winning is far from a sure thing in Jacksonville, which plays at
St. Louis (1-3) on Sunday.

The Jaguars’ anemic offense, which is averaging less than eight
points a game, is on pace to challenge the lowest-scoring teams in
NFL history. If it holds up, it would be the lowest in the modern
NFL.

Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, only four teams – the 1992
Seattle Seahawks (8.75 ppg), the 1991 Indianapolis Colts (8.9 ppg),
the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8.9 ppg) and the 1974 Atlanta
Falcons (7.9 ppg) – have averaged single-digits scoring.

The Jaguars believe their offense will improve, beginning with
Justin Blackmon’s return from a four-game suspension for violating
the league’s substance-abuse policy. Players also point out that:
running back Maurice Jones-Drew is showing progress from a foot
injury that forced him to miss 10 games last season and most of the
offseason; quarterback Blaine Gabbert is feeling more comfortable
in his second week back from a hand injury; and Lewis, who has
missed most of the season with a nagging calf injury, eventually
will return.

Nonetheless, Jacksonville is projected to be a 28-point underdog
next week at Denver, where Peyton Manning & Co.

The largest spread in NFL history came in 1976, when the
Pittsburgh Steelers were 27-point favorites over winless Tampa
Bay.

Jones-Drew scoffed at the potential spread.

”Let’s be generous and say 99.9 percent of those people have
never put on pads at this level before,” the running back said.
”It’s easy to say certain things and write things. But if you’ve
never gone through this – if you’ve never been through this and
understand what it’s like to learn how to win and to do certain
things and compete at a high level – then it’s easy to write teams
off.”

No one is writing off Jacksonville’s mascot, Jaxson DeVille.

Jaxson, who was caught on camera pushing Kansas City Chiefs
receiver Donnie Avery in the facemask after he scored a touchdown
in the opener, has lost two bets with fellow mascots the last two
weeks.

After a 45-17 loss at Seattle, Jaxson videotaped himself dancing
in a tight-fitting body suit and a leopard-printed thong. Following
last week’s 37-3 loss against Indianapolis, Jaxson videotaped
himself getting pelted by 40 paint balls while wearing spandex and
a speedo.

The clips garnered national attention – something the Jaguars
are getting for all the wrong reasons right now.

”I wanted our fans to know that no matter what, even when all
odds are against us, Jaxson will always believe in our team and go
into every game believing we can win,” said Curtis Dvorak, the man
behind the mask. ”I truly believed we could win the last two
games.

”Even if there’s a small percentage of chance, what fun is it
to accept defeat before you’ve even fought?”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org