Thoughts about schizophrenic things about the Jaguars; a possible unholy alliance in the making and very surprising pick for this year's AFC Championship title
I don't know how you guys think about this current football season but for me it's geting more interesting; with weird signs about the Jaguars; and I expecting more freakish turns yet then you see one season in Lost! IM talking not just about the Jaguars but the AFC in general. I try to focus on the big picture; but forgive me if I losing in some minor details
The Schizophrenic season:
Yes the Jaguars and Jags fans are living a season like that in this year. First of all I'm slowly going crazy balanicing between the 2 words: "rebuilding" and "playoffs". My racional side says; hey this team has 13 rookies 27 new guys; leading the NFL with rookie starts (46 and counting). This is year one under a new GM. This is rebuilding year. If they finish with 8-8; the Jags should borrow those odd "Mission Accomphlished" banners from the previous U.S. administration (this time for real..) ; and we could feel very good about this season. The Arrow pointing up; we seen a bunch of new key core players who will serve this franchise for years; and can look optimistic to the future.
BUT! This december; and the Jaguars are still on a wildcard place (6th seed to be exact). We are know that we are not a playoff caliber team but we are still there and still have real hopes to go there(another schizophrenic sign).The 2009 schedule is so easy; that the 2007 Jaguars would go easily as the 5th seed; probably they would stand as the 2nd best record in the AFC right now... I'm 100% sure about that; because this team which is much-much weaker then that was(By the way it was the last team to win in the playoffs from the very hard AFC South division-just remind everyone to that little FACT) standing still on the 6th position. And they have every chance to go in there; if they win-out the last 3 home games.
Which will be not easy; but not impossible. Although I'm not so optimistic about Sunday's game against the Texans as many people are (Tyron Brackenridge meet Andre Johnson-That mismatch alone scars me to death; not to mention how many times evryone expected a W and ended up with an L against Houston).; but I agree with a good gameplan (I say GOOD Mr. Koetter) the Jaguars might defeat the Texans in an another nailbiter; and with that eliminate the last chance to keep Gary Kubiak his job as a head coach in Texas...Then Miami is coming to town; I have respect for the defense and the wildcat; but I think that team has there advantage (running game) where the Jags have too (run defense). I expect another close game; another nailbiter. And if ; I said IF these 2 games turn out with a W; the Jaguars are one foot in the playoff. And fortunately(?) if that happens the Jaguars may find a weird friend. an unexpected guardian angel. Ladies and gentleman: I intoruce you the Indianapolis Colts
Intermezzo 1:Unholy alliance
No; please don't look so weird; I have serious logical argument for this part. First of all I think the Colts will go 13-0; making a very great service to the Jaguars: Stopping the Titans momentum this week(and with that eliminating them from the playoffs; you cannot go there with 9-7...); and the Broncos (another serious AFC wildcard contender); and they will look at the standings(Once again I repeat this scenario is possible ONLY with Jaguars standing 8-5 on week 15); and will thought this: We clinched homefield advantage in the AFC; we can rest our staters; and look; if we help here the Jaguars they might go in; and leave out serious problems called: Pittsburgh Steelers; and Baltimore Ravens. Are we wanna face with Roetlishberger in the playoffs? Nope! Do we wanna risk; that Ed Reed pick Peyton's passes and turn them into TDs? Nope! So let help to bring this stinker Jaguars in the playoffs; they barely defeated the Rams and the Bills at home... Bill Polian probably "love" the Jaguars the way Vic Ketchman "love" Polian. But now the 2 team can help each other; for good; selfish reasons. Everyone give the Jaguars an L on that game. If the Jaguars standing 8-5; then I have bigger confidence because of that then before the Rams game. See? Ok we have the Patriots game. Which is by the waystill scares me to death; even after MNF. there defense are terrible; so MJD and co MIGHT have a little shot there. But I don't like the Tom Brady vs no pass rush scenario; even with Rashean Mathis in the backfield. If the Jaguars can manage to finish it under -30; that is a little success. And then the Browns. They put to IR Jamal Lewis; Shaun Rogers is on there too ; the I think quit on Eric Mangini; and have one player who can play Joshua Cribbs. If the Jaguars lose that game I would be extremly disapointed. And if the win then it is 10-6; with 9-3 in the AFC. In other words playoffs. So if the Jaguars win this Sunday they made a much bigger step then anybody things just yet...Intermezzo 1 ends.
The Jaguars fans have another reason for being schizophrenic. The way the team plays. It is really Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde case. 5 of the 4 losses looked sometimes really bad (even San Fransisco-although there the Jaguars just beat themselves there). And even when the Jaguars have a good day; they manage to keep it really close (Rams; Chiefs; Bills; and a little bit against the Jets; although I think that was the signature win this season so far). I think the Jaguars haven't play 100% in offense this season. If they do (except maybe the Vikings/Saints duo) they could beat almost every team (specially at home...). But every Jaguars fan keep guessing all week long which Jaguars will show up(another thing which drives me crazy). And that is weird; but I can take it from a rebuilding team. Where (another weird thing) you see struggling veterans more then struggling rookies. Take the offensive line. (concern area NR. 2 right behind lack of passrush). I not saying Eben Britton and specially Eugene Monroe playing consistently good; but David suffering more and more about the interior part more. Sorry to say that but Bred Meester's starting days are numbered. I would keep him next year; to teach a new guy; but with him happend just what happened with many last year-got old in 1 season. Vince Manuwai-well that ACL just broke his career; maybe we will not see him next year. The only guy who playing really well is that Uche Nwaneri; that many expected to weakest chain link in the offensive line. Oh by the way; until you don't find a peplacement; Tra Thomas is pretty much safe. A backup; yeah I wanna keep him in. Plus he is an extremly good guy; who might can teach Monroe still like Holt do with the young receivers. Weird isn't it?
You get that weirdness on defense: Who would you expect to have a big year this season? Clint ingram; who is in his contract year. Lately when I see playing him; I see a draft pick tag; just don't now in which round the Jags can trade it yet. I see 2010's Tony McDaniel too: Derek Landri (aka M. I. A.) Sad story. Many expected he might will be the starter at the DT position and he is 100% sure leave this team one way or another. I don't know what Gene Smith planing on Quentin Groves; but beaten by 2 not so good UDFA(!!!!) rookies (Bryan Smith; and now Julius Williams) at the starting job saying your days are might numbered(I think he has a low round trade pick value) Falling down on the 4 yard line in New York was your swan song; Quentin (by the way nobody is angry and frustrated about the fac; that the Jaguars defense hasn't scored points this season yet; and today is the start of Week 13? Because I do!) And Reggie Nelson. I hope he had the memo; that the Jaguars scouts are focusing almost just safeties and corners lately. To translate to Reggie; your job is in danger my friend. Big danger (But I would like too see him with real passrush again. He was good in 2007; last time the Jaguars could do what they lacking of still-Rushing the passer; and sack him.) By the way I know Gene not likes free agency much; but he must sign a good guy/proven veteran ; proven I mean=sack the QB; with a smart contract. The Jags cannot rely just on a possible drafed rooke alone! And if we speak about passrush. I start to moderate my opinion about Derrick Harvey. I consider him a giant bust (because of the price the Jags payed for him in money and draft picks-plus because he was drafted to have a sack; and he didn't have one in this season yet...) He is (with Terrance Knighton and John Henderson) part of a slowly stonewall run defense which is the biggest surprise I expected from this team. Limited Frank Gore in San Fransisco in under 40 yards; shut down Steven Jackson; Thomas Jones; Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch? That is quite something. I fear about one thing. It might save Ted Monachno's job too. But I think it is not so much related on him; instead of the Jaguars have a Henderson-Stroud-ish DT duo in the middle again. The reason I'M NOT on the "Trade Henderson" camp. I wanan see extra picks; but not on losing Big John. (Once it backfired: does anyone remember the Marcus Stroud trade anyone?)
Intermezzo 2: Under the radar over the top!
I saw enough weird things throughout the NFL this year and it is far from over. We saw the fall and rise of the Titans (Vince Young is back; is it for real?) The fall and rise of the Giants; And Broncos (but in Denver's case the jury is still out). We seen 3 powerhouses (Indy; New Orleans and Minnesota) who are more then impressive(I can see a 3 way tie for season MVP between Drew Brees; Peyton Manning and the guy who will never retire really also know as Brett Favre). I think Minnesota and New Orleans just too good to the other NFC teams (Green Bay and Philadelphia is a dark horse but I see less chance in them to defeat both teams) so expect 1 of them to playing in Miami representing the NFC.
But which team will be represented the AFC? Colts? Well probably; but I think they will freezed again and will not manage one of the late 4th quarter comebcaks Peyton Manning doing on regular basis lately on the REGULAR season... New Engalnd? There defense is stinks compared to Bill Belichick's recent teams; Tom Brady is not the same as he was; elite QB; but not lethal accurate passer; then he was until Week 1 last year. I expect Denver make the playoffs (who would thought after all the turmoil with Jay Cutler-by the way; Denver just robbed the Bears on that trade...)but I think Orton cannot carry them to win it all. I expect the Jaguars to make it as 6th seed; but forget it; we are not a playoff team. I hope if they somehow reach the playoffs then Jaguars dying while they standing (I mean lose a nailbitter battle) I'm 100% OK with that. Which leaves to 2 teams. San Diego Chargers have an Elite QB ( that is no problem I just can't stand the guy) in Philip Rivers; and he is capable to drive the Chargers into the AFC title game. Maybe beyond that.
But the real sleeper is a team last year was nearly fired his head coach and blew the whole thing up(see the parallelism with the Jaguars?). They now sure happy that didn't do that. I speak about Marvin Lewis and his Bengals. They have all the parts what make them Superbowl ready. They run the ball; stop the run; have an elite defense (1st in points allowed; I'm stunned when I saw that statistics) a very good QB who has loaded with weapons.and who knows; Larry Johnson was maybe their last missing piece. They not just beat; they sweep the Steelers and the Ravens. and let's not forget that they lost by a very lucky hali marry on opening day to Denver. Nobody talks abou them; so they are under the radar and can go easily to the top. So don't be surprised if the AFC Champions will be called the Cincinnati Bengals..Intermezzo 2 ends
Another weird thing come to mind by the coaching changes before the season. Remember when everyone(specially Colts fans) laughed when the Jaguars hired Russ Prunell to replace Joe Decamillis? Well looks like Indy's talent was that bad. Because he is pretty much of positive surprise. His unit not did any very sexy things; but (knock; knock; knock) the Jaguars didn't got any TD from returning teams yet. Other very good hire was defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. He doing a solid job; I gave credit to him and (Jack Del Rio) that the offense isn't a total failure just yet. Without no passrush ll season long they could shut down teams? I think if Gene adress the defense next year watch out. I expect big things from him. And a big respect shout to the new Strength & Conditioning coach Luke Richesson. When everywhere in this league suffering major losses every week (Bills anyone?) the Jaguars put IR 2 key player yet so far(sadly the best and only pass rusher Reggie Hayward on week 1; and rookie WR hopefull Jarett Dillard after week 10); the rest of the IR guys where jar on the shelfs like Scott Starks and Troy Williamson. There are Rob Meier there (another guy you will not see again as a Jaguar... ) and "the steal from Cleveland" Don Carey). There are very few injures this year. So the Jaguars are very lucky. Or isn't they? Because the 2 players who are regular guest on the injury list are Rashean Mathis and Justin Durant. Rashean are starting to battle with injury after injury; and Durant has a concussion...
So here there are bad and good things. So you can see; this is a very weird season for the Jaguars and for the NFL. I think we will see twists and turns we cannot imagine yet. We will see big surprises yet; and huge disapointments. I think we will be surprised by the Jaguars in positive (they will play against a real good team 100%ly on offense)and negative (they will suffer at least one more blowout) way. I cannot wait to experience and discuss them.
I could go here a Bill Maher-ish overtime with all the troubles of the ticketsales; Los Angeles; and not to mention a Jacksonville native wearing Nr. 15 on his jersey; but I think you have enough stuff to debate and talk about here.
So feel free to debate or challenge (or agree) with my points; I'm opened as always for any opinon.I hope after the Cleveland game ends no matter what will be the Jaguars record; Jaguars fans will have more sweet; then bittersweet memories about this season. I can't wait for the remaining part of the 2009 NFL season. And I'm sure I'm not alone with that.