Jaguars Tyson Alualu Blows In With A Positive First Impression

Tyson Alualu along with three other members of the Jacksonville Jaguars defense gang-tackle Denver Broncos quarterback #8 Kyle Orton for a sack and 7 yard loss with 8:05 to play in the third quarter during the Jags 24-17 victory in the season opener Sunday September 12, 2010 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fl. (The Florida Times-Union, Rick Wilson)

It is always wise to put your best foot forward. There is no better way to foster trust and confidence. Yesterday Tyson Alualu battled the North Florida heat, a lightening delay and a persistent Denver Broncos offense in an effort to show Jaguar fans, and the NFL world at large, that he was worth the pick. Safe to say that Tyson impressed.

As refreshing as was the storm which blew through Jacksonville in the second half, so was the presence of a sorely missed pass rush.

For some it was a moment to justify the quick and aggressive DT against the media and local favorite Tim Tebow. With pride on the line, Jaguar fans were given exactly what the wanted during Sunday's hard fought victory over the Broncos. Early in the first quarter Tebow was given the ball, only to be stopped after a one yard gain by Alualu. Later in the second quarter, Alualu recorded the first regular season sack of his NFL career, taking down Kyle Orton for a six yard loss.

Sweet vindication.

This is by no means an attempt to qualify Jacksonville's 10th pick in the 2010 NFL draft a total success: Derek Cox's play this past weekend should remind us that one year does not a star make, much less one game for Tyson. What it does shout loudly from the mountain top is that based on first impressions, this rookie from Cal has made an immediate impact. One so significant that the fan base can safely toss their hat in the ring of hope with respect to defensive pressure.

Considering the litany of first round failures (5 of the 7 are factual busts), it would be difficult to argue that Alualu's play wasn't the most refreshing experience during the three plus hour solar flare that was EverBank Stadium. Going back to Jack Del Rio's first draft, only one first round pick flashed any level of promise on opening day.

(The Nelson production warrants I reassert my condition above: one season, much less one game, does not a star make.)

Even though Alualu didn't put up gaudy numbers, registering the one sack along with three tackles (one for a loss) and a QB hit, his impact goes beyond the numbers. He helped manufacture two other sacks and multiple QB hits. His presence at defensive tackle limited the Denver rushing attack from carving out the gut of the Jaguar defense.

Simply put, at his first day on the job he did exactly what he was hired to do.

The hope, then, would be that this first impression would resonate beyond just the tidal pool that is the Jaguar media and fan base. Sadly, but maybe not surprisingly, this was not the case. Some gleanings of a few articles after these weekend's games.

  • Peter King's MMQB - Only mentions the solid play of Aaron Kampann.

h. Aaron Kampman lives! He stunted from his right end-rush slot into the A gap and smothered Kyle Orton on the first series of Jags-Broncos.

  • Don Banks' Snap Judgments - Only mentions David Garrard. (Which is nice to see.)

Pretty efficient day for a quarterback who hasn't always been so accurate, Jacksonville's David Garrard. The Jags' somewhat embattled starter was a cool 16 of 21 for 170 yards and three touchdown passes in the 21-17 home-opening win over Denver.

So, who needs Tim Tebow in Jacksonville?

  • Yahoo Sports Jason Cole suggests Tebow might need to replace Orton. While he takes a shot at Cox's poor game he fails to mention the play of Alualu.
  • Yahoo Sports Charles Robinson's Winners and Losers column made me gag with this "thing he loved". (Though it did include a picture of Alualu tackling Tebow, and he submitted this classic tweet.)

Loved: Seeing Tim Tebow’s first NFL snap less than two minutes into his rookie season, then seeing him line up at wideout seconds later. So much for having to wait years for Tebow to make contributions. He’ll start in Denver before the season is over.

  • Mark Long (AP) gives no mention of Tyson's impact.
  • Even BCC favorite Paul Kuharsky failed to note Tyson in his Wrap-up. (And to his credit, Paul has been consistently fair to this franchise and is one I don't group with the masses.)

Let me be clear: I don't expect this to be a front page, top tier story. Arian Foster's debut in a win over the Colts, the Lions loss or the Cowboys choke, among a slew of other topics, surely warrant more media focus. But considering the well publicized low sack total from last year, and the beating Gene took for drafting him, surely at least a sentence is not asking too much.

To put the significance in greater context, following are the names of players we were told should have been the selection. Of the defensive players, none of them exhibited anything that would question Gene's decision.

Since I wasn't able to watch all the games in which these players performed, it is possible they too facilitated the other successes. The best I can do is compare the stats and even giving them the benefit of the doubt, our guy looks better in the game summary.

Am I coming across a bit whiney? A fair criticism. But I have this horn so I'm going to blow it. For a team fighting to get an identity, who has had to deal with local backlash and who even in victory is fighting the talk regarding a backup quarterback, I don't think it is too much to ask that a simple sentence be given to the Hawaiian.

So I'll drop the sword and shield and back down from my defensive posture.

Ignoring all the distractions, beyond everything else what we all saw on Sunday was the emergence of a pass rush. One that wasn't defined just by "well they hit the quarterback a lot", but also by an endangered species called sacks. Credit not solely to the outstanding play of free agent DE Kampmann, but also to an "over drafted" defensive tackle. How about that as a point of interest? The worst sack producing defense of 2009 manages three in one game.

Moving forward, the challenge facing the Jaguars next Sunday is a trip to what last year was a pit of quicksand: the West Coast. They'll be facing a Chargers team without star Vincent Jackson, but with enough speed at wide receiver to cause match up problems. And, of course the dagger to the heart that is TE Antonio Gates, a position the Jaguars historically have let exploit them.

But even though the level of competition may be elevated, we fans won't be watching the game hoping there is a potential to get to the quarterback. We've already seen that this team can do it. And a good portion of the credit can be given to Tyson Alualu, a strong wind blowing away our past troubles.

 

May the wind take your troubles away
May the wind take your troubles away
Both feet on the floor, two hands on the wheel,
May the wind take your troubles away

Son Volt - Windfall

 

- Brian Fullford

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