Halfway through the first quarter today I thought I was watching a replay of the San Diego game, with the turnovers and the points we gave up off of them. But this was a different Jags team (and yes, a very different opponent), and their resiliency was one of the encouraging signs today ... we have not been a good comeback team in the past, and today we were.
To me, that's a sign of character, and of the quality of the men Gene Smith has assembled. The former personnel regime not only brought in players who were unproductive, but many were also of questionable character. I will never forget Jerry Porter and Matt Jones giggling on the bench a couple of years ago in Cincinnati, in the 4th quarter of a game we were losing to a team that was 0-8. You won't see that with these guys. Their heart last week after the worst consecutive loses in team history and their focus today after giving away ten points early are signs that we have players who are committed, focused, and truly professional.
Other encouraging signs today:
Deji Karim. His fresh legs were so welcome, especially with Jennings out. He's just as explosive as we hoped he would be, really impressive in the return game and a great complement to MoJo and Jennings running the ball.
Derek Cox. Welcome back, dude. A few missed tackles today but overall it seemed to me he played well. I have no idea what the coaches were up do and I guess he didn't start today but he was a big upgrade over David Jones once he came in. I suspect they didn't want Cox to go heads up against Wayne all game last week and waited til today, but who knows. In any case, glad he's back.
Zach Miller, MSW. Good to have them both contribute. MSW is so sure-handed, and that has to given Garrard some confidence about going deep. Let's include them in the game plan.
Aaron Kampman. Are you kidding me? Thank you, Gene. Our defensive MVP by a mile.
Marcedes Lewis. All-pro without question. I would take him over Gates, Witten, any of them. Cornerstone of this offense, along with Maurice, as much for his blocking as his receiving.
Josh Scobee. Nothing more needs to be said. Shoudlo be worth 2-3 victories per year.
My biggest concern emerging from today was mentioned by many in the game thread: linebacking. I don't think the secondary is the unit of most concern on the defense anymore ... Mathis, Cox, Greene and Alexander are more than serviceable. I haven't looked at the tackling stats but I don't remember any of the linebackers making a significant play today, and they are the biggest reason we are vulnerable on the edges. Why is it the Steelers always seem to have a surplus of big, fast playmakers at that position, and we don't? A major need come the middle rounds of the draft.
And I still and concerned about poor tackling. Why do we so often get an initial hit but fail to wrap up?
But no complaints, it was an impressive comeback from a position that might have overwhelmed us in the past, and I'm grateful to have the opportunity to watch this team grow and evolve. The next few years are going to be fun.
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