JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — One Jaguars fan captured the moment and the feeling in one cell phone photo.
Late in the first half of Sunday’s 28-11 loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs at TIAA Bank Field, the fan, sporting a Yannick Ngakoue jersey, walked up to a fenced area that overlooks the field near section 201.
He appeared to be taking a photo of the scoreboard, then reached around the phone to get his right hand in view, extended his middle finger, then took the picture with his left hand.
The silent gesture said it all.
Jaguars fans didn’t exactly heed executive vice-president Tom Coughlin’s plea to show up and support the team in the final three home games this month. Tickets distributed was announced at 62,633 but it was barely nudging 50,000 when the game began -- as usual with a healthy percentage of opposing fans.
The mood turned ugly for the Jags fans and jubilant for the Bucs fans after quarterback Nick Foles committed his first turnover, a gifted pass over the middle that rookie inside linebacker Devin White intercepted to set up Tampa’s first score.
For the rest of the first half, the boos were mixed with chants of “we want Minshew,” referring to backup quarterback Gardner Minshew II, who had a 4-4 record as a starter following Foles’ injury in the opening game of the season.
Every time Foles went back onto the field, which ended in two more turnovers and three three-and-outs for the rest of the first half, the boos and calls for Minshew grew louder -- until the first possession of the third quarter, when Minshew ran onto his home field for the first time in more than a month, amid the loudest cheers of the day to that point.
Minshew at least provided some hope, completed 16 of 27 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown to Dede Westbrook.
But many fans didn’t even wait for the second half and were exiting well before halftime, which only served to highlight the large pockets of Bucs fans in their red shirts and jerseys.
The departing fans expressed a myriad of emotions that ranged from anger to resignation.
“I’m too depressed to be mad,” said John Linge of Fleming Island. “I’m very disappointed. I expected a competitive team today. The offensive play-calling was atrocious. On second-and-10 you’re throwing backward passes to Leonard Fournette?”
Andrew Sekelsky of Mandarin said the 2019 season has turned out to be “par for the course.”
“It’s been this way for the last decade,” he said. “And I think we know by now that 2017 [when the Jags came one game away from the Super Bowl] was a fluke.”
The loss dropped the Jaguars record to 4-8, assuring the team of a 17th mark of .500 or worse in its 25 years of existence -- and for the 11th time in 12 years.
His wife, Erin Sekelsky, said she as simply “irritated.”
“Foles isn’t the answer,” she said. “I never thought he would be.”
Donna Thompson of Arlington and her husband William are season-ticket holders who said they’re simply not getting a return on their value.
“We’ve had enough for one day,” she said while walking to an exit with five minutes left in the second quarter. “It’s expensive to have season tickets and come to these games. And the product we’re getting is not satisfactory. You wouldn’t sit still for paying good money for other things and getting an inferior product.”
Jordan Dry of Jacksonville Beach wasn’t ready to write off the players just yet.
“I think we have the talent,” she said. “We just need better coaching and better people in the front office. I think most of the fans walked in here supporting the players.”
Many stayed to support them after halftime when Minshew led a comeback that had the Jaguars within 14 points, and a first down on the Bucs 1.
Many will return if Minshew is named the starting quarterback for next week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
But a healthy element of fans is reserving their judgment -- and money -- until the team puts a winner on the field.
“We’re fed up,” said Liz Miller of Jacksonville Beach. “Tom Coughlin wanted us to come out today. And this is what we got.