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