This will be part of an ongoing series where we take a look at each individual team we will face this season.
It's been a rough decade for Jacksonville Jaguars fans. That disappointment continued into the 2008 season, 2009 season and even into the NFL draft. One wonders how long a fan base can take being consistently mediocre; playing 3rd fiddle in the AFC South, and 4th as of late. As a fan, you'd like to write off the disappointment of a 5-11 season, followed by a 7-9 season as some sort of rebuilding. But, there's no silver lining for Jags fans. Bill Murray gives the best forecast for the future of this Jags football team, "It's gonna be cold. It's gonna be gray. And, it's going to last you for the rest of your life."
Follow me through the jump for a look at the Jaguars 2009 Season, the offseason, and three keys to winning this matchup.
2009 Season (7-9)
|Rushing YPG||PPG||Offensive DVOA||Defensive YPG||D. Passing YPG||D. Rushing YPG||Defensive PPG||Defensive DVOA|
* stats from NFL.com and Footballoutsiders.com
Mediocrity. In a word, that basically sums up the history of this franchise, and last year. On one hand, there is nothing egregiously bad about this team. The flipside of that is that this team is painfully average at nearly everything they do. The exception to this is the running game, which can be described as slightly above average. The season itself was fairly erratic with the Jags winning against one team they shouldn't have (Jets), and losing against many teams they should have beaten (Browns, Seahawks, Dolphins, 49ers).
At the center of their offensive struggles was the passing game. Truthfully, David Garrard isn't that bad of a quarterback. The problem is he's just average. (Seeing a trend yet?) And, unless you have a truly dominant defense, a guy like David Garrard isn't going to get it done. I feel for Jags fans, because the guy is just good enough to keep you interested. I mean, he's not losing many games for this team, but he's not winning many either. For a guy that's an 8 year veteran, only posting a rating of 83.5 isn't going to cut it. Conversely, the running game is still a bright spot for this offense. MJD has solidified himself as a superstar in spite of having a poor supporting cast.
On the other side of the ball, it was a tale of two defenses. Against the rush, the team ended up in the middle of the pack in terms of total yardage given up, but they faired well in DVOA, at 7th best in the league. Defending the pass was a different story altogether. Total numbers put them near the bottom of the barrel, but the DVOA has them at second worst in the league (only better than the Rams).
The Offseason: Free Agency and The Draft
The Jags weren't all that active in Free Agency. They did make one notable acquisition by signing veteran defensive end Aaron Kampman. It will be interesting to keep an eye on Kampman, who at one time was arguably a top 5 defensive end. That said, production has tapered off in recent years, and it remains to be seen if there's anything left in the tank. Other Free Agent acquisitions included Freddy Keiaho (LB), and Karim Osgood (WR). They also acquired Justin Smiley (G) and Kirk Morrison (LB) via trade.
Jacksonville's draft was a bit of a head scratcher. That's not to say that they won't be successful, but this front office really went off the board with their selections. With most of the top D-line prospects still on the board, the Jags elected to use their pick on Tyson Alualu (DE - Cal). They followed that pick up by taking a DT in the third round, and two more DE's in round 5. You can view their draft selections here.
Three keys to winning
1. Air it out. This is clearly Jacksonville's biggest weakness. Attack the corners, and let the pass open up the run. We should throw the ball a minimum of 25 times this game.
2. Load the box. A minimum of 7 guys should be in the box at all times. Pack 8 guys in there against sets of two receivers or less. Force this team to beat us through the air. And, when that happens, make sure there is consistent pressure.
3. Get CJ to the edge. This team was better than average against the run last year. But, no matter how good a team is at defending the run, X's and O's can't account for CJ's speed. Get him to the edge with speed options, sweeps, off tackle runs out of the shotgun, and a good mix of RB screens.
The x-factor in this one is Vince Young. If he can come out and spread the ball around effectively, it should be an easy win. Considering his progress last year and his effective play against the Jags last season, I expect him to play well. Titans win 24-14.