The Jaguars have completed the first half of their schedule and the results are a resounding...........who knows. This team has had it's share of ups and downs, though it has been entertaining the entire time. This team is in rebuilding, but that doesn't mean it has it's strengths and weaklinks.
Passing Offense: B-
The key here has been the emergence of the wide receiving corp. The Jaguars no longer have a CFL level wide receiving corp and it shows. Mike Sims-Walker has been showing why the Jaguars have been so patient with his injuries, while Torry Holt has been the best free agent pick up since Mike Peterson.David Garrard has been up and down, though that has as much to do with the play of the offensive line as himself.
First round pick Eugene Monroe is seemingly finally entrenched at the left tackle spot. As long as the coaching staff doesn't have anymore divine revelations to start Tra Thomas, I don't see Monroe leaving that spot for the next ten years. Fourth round pick Mike Thomas has certainly been the surprise of the draft class for me. He has been a nice spark plug for the offense.
Maurice Jones-Drew is a feature back, enough said. MJD is on pace for a 1,500 yard 22 touchdown season that would eclipse anything Fred Taylor did statistically, which is insane. However, as Jeff Lageman mentioned, Fred was always at his best during the back half of the schedule. Will we say the same about Jones-Drew?
Rashad Jennings has been getting more action as the season has gone on, and hopefully he'll get to be a regular spell back by the end of the year. I know MJD is a monster, but why don't we give the ball to Greg Jones more in short yard situations, if for no other reason then that's one less hit MJD needs to take.
Run blocking has always been the offensive line's strength and it continues to be. 2nd round pick Eben Britton has been excellent blocking the run this season, though he's still a work in progress with pass protection. Also, the interior of the offensive line is starting to show it's age. Hopefully they'll be able to hang on for another year or two because there are only project players to be found if you want interior O-lineman in this draft.
Well, at least the unit isn't on pace to set the record for fewest sacks in the NFL. However, this is still the weak link on the team, as evidenced by the 54 yard prayer that was given up for a touchdown that sparked the Chiefs psuedo-rally. The pass rush is still non-existent for the most part. Unless the Chiefs game was a preview of things to come, the Jaguars will still be looking for that pass rusher. Also, Reggie Nelson is still a liability. While he managed to figure out he was playing TACKLE football, I would still take a "Hole in Zone" over trusting him to make the right read.
On the other hand, Derek Cox has been progressing nicely and looks to be a cornerstone of the team for the next decade. I'm not going to blast Sean Considine and Brian Russell too much as those guys really should be special teams guys.
Rushing Defense: C+
The Jaguars rush defense has been good statistically primarily because team's realized that throwing the ball was far more effective. However, the last two weeks have been a Jekyll and Hyde show for the team. Chris Johnson had a career day in Nashville, while they buckled down against the Chiefs to only allow 60 yards rushing.
Terrance Knighton has been playing the best of the rookies and has been a true bright spot for the season. John Henderson has revived his career and is playing his best ball since 2005. Also, if this team is finally going back to the 4-3, then we'll see our linebackers playing to their strengths again.
(I'm going to save comment on the coaching for another article.)
First Half MVP: Maurice Jones-Drew
Did you think I would pick anyone else?
First Half LVP (Least Valuable Player): Reggie Nelson
Nelson is proudly continuing in the tradition of other Shack Harris first round picks, by not progressing or living up to their potential. It seems everytime the defense gives a big play over the top you can see that Reggie is out of position somewhere.
Best Moment: Week 4 vs Tennessee
Easily the best performance from all sides of the ball since 2007.
Worst Moment: Week 8 at Tennessee
I have to agree with Vic on this one. The playoffs were on the line and despite being thoroughly outplayed, it seemed MJD had delivered a knockout blow with his second long touchdown to tie the game at 13-13. Then, the extra point was blocked and the team collapsed.
Best Rookie: Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton
Not only has he played the best of the rookies, his arrivial has resparked John Henderson.
Most Pleasant Surprise: The Jaguars no longer having a CFL level wide receiving unit
The Jaguars top three wide receivers in 2008, Matt Jones, Reggie Williams, and Jerry Porter are out of football now. Would anyone want to bet Mike Sims-Walker, Torry Holt, and Mike Thomas would be free agents for long if the Jaguars cut them tomorrow?
One thing I want to see over the next eight games: Close losses
You're probably wondering what I mean by that, but this team is going to lose a few more games this year, that is certain. However, the Jaguars have lost by an average of 18 points this season. I'm not asking this team to go in and beat New England at home in December. I would ask you make it worth my while to tune in.