If I have to explain who Bear Grylls is you need to immediately leave this blog and quit following football. From eating deer droppings to purposely pushing himself to the brink of death, his show Man vs Wild is a staple for anyone intrigued by the skills required to survive any of the world's elements. I would go as far to say it is required viewing, as important as learning to swim.
No chance the jungles of Northern Australia will ever be a destination? Isn't it better to be safe than sorry? If you think you will never need such survival skills, you are probably one who doesn't believe in the Zombie Apocalypse. The zombies WILL come it is just a question of when so you'd better know the rules.
So what does this have to do with the Jaguars or football in general? Game three of the preseason is the game of survival. Those players who have been borderline starting, borderline practice squad or borderline making the team have this game to showcase their worth. One could argue there is still game four to play but with the starters sitting for most, if not all of the game, it is game three where the push is made to move one's self up the depth chart.
Simply put, if you are a mop up player in against Atlanta your chances are not looking good.
This game is as much about making the team as it is about being in the top 22. Tania Ganguli notes three positions for which who will start could be answered tonight. Sure the Bucs will be fielding a team with injuries at significant positions, along with a defense that is not that good, but this is about execution against whomever is on the field.
After watching the starters play against Tampa, we fans may have a better understanding as to whether we'll be enjoying the season or simply surviving the season. Some thoughts after the jump.
- Can we even talk about survival without mentioning the New Orleans Saints? The five year anniversary really puts things into perspective, Beyond the basic human story is one of a football team which was rumored to be a target for relocation. Fast forward to 2010 and they are the reigning Super Bowl champions with a strong chance to repeat. But the real story is the people reviving the city. So much left to be done but there are some great stories of survival and success post Katrina.
- A big wound time has healed in Jacksonville is the wide receiver position. Two years ago David Garrard had to choose from Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, Jerry Porter and Dennis Northcutt. Today the question isn't about who will start but who will make the team. Gives you hope for the next two years.
- Two years ago Mike Sims-Walker was on the team but was battling injuries. Now he is not only the Jaguars number one but is also recognized as a promising star in the league. After the shot he took against Philadelphia, that he played last week is a positive sign that his toughness may have caught up with this talent.
- If you will allow me a moment of vanity, my concern with respect to Chad Henne and tight end Anthony Fasano exploiting a defensive weakness ended up being justified. Are the Jaguars linebackers that bad with play action or is Henne just that good?
- And this week could be just as bad if Mel Tucker doesn't make adjustments. Yes Josh Freeman is out, but if I'm Tampa offensive coordinator Greg Olson I'm telling Josh Johnson to look for either Kellen Winslow (if he plays) or Jerramy Stevens on every passing down. The linebackers have to play better against the pass.
Tyson Alualu did get spun around a few times against Miami but I saw enough of him holding his own to be excited about this pick. It should be fun comparing the performance of Alualu against Tampa defensive tackle Brian Price. Price had more name recognition than his Pac-10 (12) counterpart but both have a similar quickness and good technique. Unfortunately Price's hamstring injury may still have him at less than 100%.
- But let's be honest. Gerald McCoy is the focus the Jaguars should expect to see him and second year defensive tackle Roy Miller. As maligned as Jacksonville is at the interior offensive line position, they should be able to run against a young Buccaneer front.
- I am forced to survive the preseason without a Maurice Jones-Drew dance. At least I was able to draft him in one of my fantasy leagues.
- The receiving corps doesn't worry. Sure there are positions to hash out but the unit is solid. As much as David Garrard needs to have some success, my offensive focus is at running back. This is your game Rashad Jennings. Make your case. MJD is the offense and if he goes down we need to know you can carry the load.
- I am not as confident as Alfie that David will light up Tampa. As ESPN's NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas notes here, safeties Tanard Jackson and Sean Jones along with cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber make a formidable defensive back set. I do think that David showing success against this group is more than just executing.
- Listening to Garrard's interview with Pete Prisco reminded me just how much of a survivor David is. Beyond his battle with Crohn's Disease the quarterback has played with the worst receiving corps in the NFL and behind a line that allowed him to be sacked 84 times the past two seasons. You may doubt whether he is the answer at quarterback bu the guy is a fighter.
- Teal and Black's Zoltan Paksa wrote a nice piece on the possible 53 man roster. I was somewhat shocked to see him leave Reggie Nelson off the roster. As Alfie wrote, tonight is a big test of whether Nelson has made progress and he is in agreement with Zoltan regarding the safeties job security, a change of mind based on his article earlier this year. I disagree with their present opinion and side with Alfie's thoughts back in April. Nelson's $725,000 salary hit for 2010 is not severe and I haven't seen anything from Nelson making salary a liability
- I am in total agreement with Peyton Manning on the umpire impacting the offense. For the Colts, the ability to run a 2 minute offense whenever they want is a critical part of what they do. The NFL should not allow the officials to interfere with the strategic flow of a football game. I hope the NFL's "tweaks" after their evaluation of how it worked in the preseason will find a way to limit the impact.
- Derek Harvey is not going to make it in this league as a defensive end that gets you sacks. The guy plays disciplined football but he simply doesn't have the speed or technique to elevate his game. There may be a game or two down the road where he may shine but it will not be consistent. He does look like he has heavy hands.
- If you've had your fantasy draft already I hope you didn't pay too much for Larry Fitzgerald. I don't care how good he is, the quarterback problem in Arizona drops his value. Not that the Cardinals have anyone really pushing them in the NFC West.
- My way too early Super Bowl prediction: Green Bay vs Indianapolis. I'm not even going to justify it with an argument since this is purely gut instinct. Ok, my affinity for both Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning plays into it a bit. Where are the Saints you say? I stand by my article months ago questioning their defense, where as I see Green Bay improving on that side of the ball. I'm never right about this.
- Fellow BCC resident Joe Fisher commented on Alfie's MJD surgery article which I just loved. While some have criticized Vic Ketchman over at Jaguars.com for being late on some stories, at least he makes the effort to ensure accuracy. BCC editor Jon Loesche was right to point out that credibility will keep a site popular. Good thing Kirk Herbstreit has looks in his favor. No idea how he kept his job after his Les Miles gaffe.
- Sure wish I could have made the trip to Tampa. I doubt the preseason warrants it but I would sure love to see Jaguar fans impacting the crowd noise when the Bucs have the ball.
- If I were smart I would have kept track of everyone predicting the Jets to either win it all or to go deep into the playoffs. Mark Sanchez was not good last year and they lost an offensive and special teams threat in Leon Washington. They are the third best team in the AFC East and will miss the playoffs.
- Field position has played a critical part in allowing the Jaguars to at least have a chance thus far thanks to Deji Karim. I'm very interested to see if the offense will be required to go 80 yards for a score of if the defense will be given a short field to work with. A healthy special teams is, a this point, a proven commodity. Maybe this is just the survival scenario our offense and defense needs.
- Sometimes the easiest thing in the world to do is focus on the negative. Work a little harder and find the good...the beautiful. Jaguar fans survived a lightening storm. The Jaguars are still in Jacksonville. We don't cheer for team named after a color (yes I know the origin) or one which dresses like this or this on game day. With all that is bad in the world, I'd like to leave you with this gem.
- Brian Fullford