After the first two games resulting in utter loss and disappointment, the Jacksonville Jaguars picked up their helmets (and the ball) and stormed through the Tennessee Titans, resulting in a 20-7 victory, all while hosting the NFL Network on their own turf and regaining the city’s former title of “Sacksonville.”
Fans were amped up at the Slab on Thursday, Sept.19, a popular tailgating area for passionate groups such as Teal Street Hooligans and Bold City Brigade. The NFL Network heard of their dedication and traditional “circle ups,” shotgunning beer every 30 minutes before the game (Yes, every 30 minutes.) and chanting “We are Jaguars” and “DUUUVAL,” a warning call for those not realizing what they’re getting into at the intersection of Duval and Bryan St.
“Being able to show off on national TV is a huge deal,” said eight-year Hooligan, Matt Moses. “We are such a tight-knit fan base. I know everyone puts so much work into the tailgates. It’s awesome to be recognized.”
Speaking of recognition, a new and overnight sensation washed over the Slab that night like a monsoon. Whether it’s the sweatband, the jorts or signature mustache, hundreds of fans were swimming in “Minshew Mania,” cheering on Jags QB Gardner Minshew II.
“It’s great to finally see someone who’s so comfortable lead this team down the field,” Moses said. “Any play that includes Minshew dropping back in the pocket and making a completion is heaven.”
And while fans floated in the clouds that Thursday, Minshew lingered in the deep waters, waiting for the next opponent like a hungry shark. “We smell blood in the water and we’re going to try and go get it,” Minshew said about his early touchdown in a press conference after the game. “Anytime the defense can give us a short field, we’re excited. That lets us be aggressive which is a fun way to play.”
“He was amped up and led the team to a nice victory,” defensive player, CB Jalen Ramsey, said about Minshew, except Ramsey believes the defense had this ability all along. “This defense has always been elite, the guys on this team are talented. We put in work on the field. The defense worked hard and got nine sacks, so I say we stepped up to the plate.”
With the Ramsey-Coughlin debacle concerning fans, Moses just hopes they can settle on an agreement and have a winning season.
“I think Jalen is an amazing player and he just really wants to win games,” Moses said. “I’d be ticked, too, if I sat and watched the amazing defense that lead us to the AFC Championship game be dismantled. I’m really hoping this blows over and we can get back to playing football and being the best defense in the league.”
Looking back, maybe Gardner Minshew II is the key the Jaguars clumsily stumbled upon. Like Ramsey said, they always had a talented swarm of players, but maybe what was lacking was a talented leader. Not only have they found that with Minshew, but also found assertiveness, fearlessness and an instant boost of morale. The Jacksonville Jaguars have been a school of hungry sharks all along. They were just missing its alpha hammerhead. And yes, that hammerhead has a ridiculous mustache.