Jags Fan
2010 NFL Playoff Picture

The playoffs are finally here, and even though the Jaguars didn’t make it, this is the best time of the football season.  We have very interesting playoff picture, particularly in the NFC, but the AFC looks intriguing as well.  The NFC will feature Philadelphia, Green Bay, Arizona, Dallas, Minnesota, and New Orleans.  On the other side, the AFC includes New York (J), Baltimore, Cincinnati, New England, San Diego, and Indianapolis.

The AFC picture looks a little more clear.  The favorite for the AFC champions has to be Indianapolis, because of their record.  I would probably agree with this, except that Indy’s postseason record over the last 10 years hasn’t exactly been stellar.  That said, I can’t trust them in the post season.

After Indy, San Diego and New England look to me like the likely AFC champs.  San Diego’s offense is clicking, but I think they have some holes on defense.  New England is always very good in the playoffs, especially with Brady, but they look slightly off this year.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cincinnati either, but although they’ve been very good this year, they haven’t been great.  You have to be great to win championships - my pick is San Diego.

The overwhelming favorites in the NFC appear to be Dallas and Green Bay.  I agree that Dallas is extremely dangerous. I could see Green Bay getting there as well, but I don’t know if I trust them just yet.

Minnesota looks like they are fading away on offense.  Favre can’t get the 8th man out of the box and their offensive line isn’t playing very well right now.  The Cardinals have played some great games, but they’ve also played mediocre games.  I think you have to give them respect because of what they did in last year’s post season.

The team that everyone keeps forgetting about is the Saints.  I like the Saints, but they need to start playing defense again.  I see them going one and done.  All that said, I think Dallas is the best football team in the NFC right now.

If it is San Diego and Dallas in the Superbowl, I think Dallas has the advantage.  Dallas has a very good pass defense.  They have a power running game and Romo has looked really good the second half of the season.

Random thoughts about the loss @ Cleveland

What happened in Cleveland?  I thought they were supposed to be the worst defense in the league.  Make no mistake, Cleveland is much better than they were when they started the season.

Cleveland found the best way to attack us - Off Tackle.  They have some very good Offensive Tackles that had no problem sealing off the edge. That was easy - we don’t have a run-stuffer on the right side.  On top of that, Harvey wasn’t very good against the run.

What happened on offense?  Our interior line was getting no push.  They look like they are getting old to me.

Even though we lost, got blown out even, this game makes me really excited about the future.  Eugene Monroe and Terrance Knighton had their biggest games of the season.  The announcers were gushing about Knighton.

That said, my one concern is the four game losing streak to close the season.  You expect a young team to get better towards the end of the year.  Albeit, the last 3rd of the schedule was clearly the toughest, but it’s still a question heading into next year.  Gene Smith shares my concern - he stated that several times on the  ”Jaguars Monday” Radio Show.

They’re better than we thought they were

With a win over the Jets this weekend, the Jaguars prove that they are better than we thought they were.  Yes, I know we came into the game at 4-4 and with good company including Baltimore, Atlanta, NY Jets.

But until now, who have we beaten?

  1. Houston
  2. Tennessee
  3. St Louis
  4. Kansas City

In fact, when you look at those teams, the only team with more than three wins is Houston.  Lets also not forget that we had Tennessee without Finnegan, and later lost to them.

The Jets actually have a pretty good team.  During the first half, MJD ran all over them.  Thats against a good run-stuffing team with a #2 defense.  David Garrard threw for over 200 yards on an above-average passing defense.

More importantly, on defense we gave up only 330 yards.  That doesn’t sound very good, but for one of the worst defenses in the league statistically, it shows that they are improving each week.  We also held Thomas Jones to under 80 yards against a top rushing offense.

Most impressively, after being shut down in the second half, Garrard marched down the field in the game-winning drive. Its time for the Garrard-haters to give him respect.

Evaluating the Rookies through 6 weeks

Eugene Monroe has shown steady improvement each week. He did not start out the season well, albeit against premiere pass rushers.  Maybe going against Freeney and Dockett in his first two weeks was a good thing.  After Tra Thomas had his way with Vandenbosch, it looked like he was better than we thought.  Then, he played just as bad as Monroe in Seattle.  He’s starting to look like he’s one that job.  He will continue to improve as the year goes on.

Eben Britton has kind of had an up and down year so far.  He’s shown flashes of what he can become, and he’s been beaten a couple of times.  I think run blocking is most natural to him, but pass blocking will improve as he works on his technique.  Actually, he’s been pretty solid for a rookie.  We haven’t heard his name nearly as often as Monroe.

Terrance Knighton was an instant upgrade at DT.  He’s already one of the best defensive players.  This guy gives us immediate flexibility on defense.  He is can be a true 3-4 nose tackle and he can play 4-3 DT.  He gives us a legitimate reason to switch the the 3-4, if thats what Gene and Jack want to pursue.

Derek Cox is another home run pick in the 3rd round.  He’s physical, athletic, and has great football instincts.  He can also tackle which is an instant upgrade from last years defense.  Cox is another guy that has been showing improvement each week.

Mike Thomas gives us what our offense has needed for years.  Someone who can stretch the field sideways.  With Thomas playing the slot, this is a totally different offense.  He’s shown that not only can he run after the catch, he is also a good route runner.

Jarrett Dillard has been just okay so far.  He’s made a few catches this season, but I think it’s fair to give him time to develop.  He hasn’t really been a factor yet, but he should eventually become one.

Zach Miller has unfortunately been limited due to injuries, but he’s starting to get back.  He had an impressive game at home against the Rams.  We should see a lot more of him soon.

Rashad Jennings hasn’t been on the field all that much except against the Titans.  He was able to get some pretty good gains on the ground that MJD couldn’t get.  If he can stay on the roster for a few years, he’ll develop into a good power back.

Tiquan Underwood hasn’t been on the field at all yet.  He was promoted from the practice squad after the week two debacle, and from what I hear he’s been impressive in practice lately.  Expect him to see some time in the second half of the season.

Inconsistent Winning Under the Del Rio Regime

Yeah, Del Rio hasn’t been a consistent winner since he’s been here.  He’s been up and down every year.  Thats true, but there needs to be an asterisk next to it.  He’s had inconsistent talent.  Thats why all of his first rounders were either cut or let go in free agency.

Whether that is Shack Harris’ fault or not, only time will tell.  He’s already getting production out of this years’ draft class.  And there’s only one exception so far - Tiquan Underwood, and I expect him to see the field this year.

But he’s already been inconsistent this year, you might add.  His team dominated Tennessee and then got dominated by Seattle.  Its still a young team, this should be expected this year.  Look, I’m not saying that Del Rio will be in the hunt for the playoffs year in and year out, but you’ve got to give him a couple of years to see if he can.  Just let it play out and enjoy watching.

If this team is still losing in 3 years, then maybe its time to move on and look for another coach.  That time is not now.  Right now its time to watch the young team to develop and improve.  If it is constantly improving, then Del Rio might be here for a long time.

Jags Win Over St Louis in a Dramatic Finish

The Jags just barely survived at home on Sunday.  I wasn’t there, so I only know what I read and what I heard.  Unfortunately, I had to listen to the radio while sitting in a hospital room.  Not my idea of a fun weekend, but at least its over.

Are the Jaguars so bad that they can barely beat the worst team in the NFL?  In my opinion, no.  The stats and the scoreboard tell two different stories.  If you look at the stats, we dominated the game on offense and defense, nearly doubling the offensive yards that the Rams put up.

The problem was turnovers.  Two turnovers in the redzone, and an interception ran back for a touchdown kept the Rams in the game.  Jacksonville was -2 in turnover differential.  Winning is rare when you lose the turnover differential.

All things considered, this is a good win for the Jags.  They showed a certain amount of maturity winning the game, especially for such a young team.  Coming off of a blowout loss, they were able to respond this week with a win.  Even after losing the lead to a pick-6 late in the game, they showed the ability to march down the field and tie the game again.  The arrow is definitely pointing up.

Rams @ Jaguars Preview

This weekend the St Louis Rams are coming to Jacksonville, but don’t pencil in a win just yet.  This is a game that the Jags should win, but that doesn’t mean they will.

Remember in 2008 when we were 3-3 and we were expecting to be 6-3 going into the bye week?  Remember how we lost 2 out of the next 3 games including to the winless Bengals and the Browns?  I’m also reminded of the 2006 team, that beat all of the good teams and lost to all of the bad teams.

Winning this week isn’t just about showing that your better than the other team.  The Jaguars are definitely better than the Rams. No, this game is about maturity.  No one wants to be the one to lose to the Rams.  The Jaguars need to show that not only are they the better team, but that they are capable of winning.

So whats the key to winning this Sunday?  Just show up and be the better team.  Will that happen?  We will see at 1:00.

Hurtful loss in Seattle

Not just hurtful, embarrassing.  Seattle hosted a 41-0 beatdown on the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The Seahawks did everything right: pressured the quarterback, protected Hasselbeck, and they took advantage of every opportunity.  Conversely, the Jaguars did everything wrong.

So what happened? In a word.. everything.  The jaguars didn’t catch any breaks, but even if they had, it still would have been a blowout.  This was the classic 2008 Jaguars.

How is it that Seattle look so good this week and looked so bad earlier on?  They have speed on defense, even without their premiere pass rusher.  And before you blame Eugene, remember that Tra Thomas didn’t exactly play well either.  They had a practice squad guy at LT, and we still couldn’t get to Hasselbeck.  I wrote last week that the Seahawks looked like a dangerous team.  Make no mistake, the Seahawks are an underrated team.

Add to that the possibility of major distractions.  Mike Sims-Walker was deactivated for violating team rules, and Quentin Groves was responsible for a hit and run accident.

All things considered, this should not come as a shock.  We all know that teams that travel across the country struggle, especially young, immature teams.  We can only hope that this game is used as a learning experience to all the young players as they continue to mature.

Jags @ Seahawks Preview

I’m honestly not exactly sure what to expect in this game.  I haven’t seen the Seahawks play this year obviously.  All things considered, this is a big game for the young Jacksonville team.  Traveling across the country is difficult for any team and it will be interesting to see how they handle it.

Looking at the stats and games the Seahawks play, they look like a middle of the pack type of team.  They look like they struggle against the run and are just okay against the pass.  This is interesting because they haven’t played against any real good passing teams, with the exception of Indianapolis.

This looks like a very winnable game for both teams.  I don’t see the Jaguars jumping all over the Seahawks early, as they did in town last weekend, because of the long trip.  That said, the defense needs to hold up early, and allow the offense to find a rhythm.

As long as the two tackles play well, this should be a good offensive day.  Both Monroe and Britton look like they’ll be back for this game.  Kerney looks like he’ll be out, so that’ll make for an easier day for Monroe, so I expect a good passing offense.

Defense is where all the concern should be.  I believe that Seattle runs a West Coast type of offense (correct me if I’m wrong), and we’ve struggled against that lately.  I’m reminded of the whipping Arizona gave us at home.  That means we’ll need to tackle well again, and indications, so far, has been that the team has improved in tackling.

If they were playing at “The Jack”, I would probably pick the Jaguars to win, but travelling across country to an unfamiliar town makes it difficult to win.  I see the Seahawks winning in a close defensive game, but I could really see it going either way.