Over the course of the next three weeks, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a chance to exercise some demons. Some demons that have haunted them the past two seasons. One of those demons they will face head-on Sunday afternoon at about 4 o'clock.
The Jaguars will get to face the west coast that haunted them last season. The Jaguars offense was outscored 61-3 in two games combined. Equally as bad, as you can see the defense allowed 61 points, including 41 to the hapless Seattle Seahawks. This game against the San Diego Chargers is going to be a big time measuring stick.
Luckily for the Jaguars, we all got a little scouting session last night on Monday Night Football where the Kansas City Chiefs shocked the Chargers, upsetting them 21-14. There were things that we were able to see both good and bad for the Jaguars. I'll give you my initial scouting reactions from watching the game last night.
First the bad.
You never want to go into a teams house after a shocking loss. Not many except for Joel Thorman of Arrowhead Pride actually prediticted it would happen. No really, check out his predictions... ridiculous. While the Chargers have a short week to prepare, you can bet they'll be ready and they won't be happy in front of a potential blackout crowd.
Phillip Rivers looks like Phillip Rivers. The Jaguars passing game is going to be giving up yardage to Rivers, as they did to Kyle Orton. While the Chargers wide receiving corps without Vincent Jackson is questionable, players like Legedu Naanee showed Monday Night they can hurt you down the field. The Chargers also have a guy named Antonio Gates, you might have heard of him. One of the Achilles heels of the Jaguars pass defense has been tight ends. Tight ends kill the Jaguars, so the match up with Gates who has killed them in the past, will be interesting. Will they use a safety, a nickel corner, or try to man him up with Daryl Smith and Justin Durant?
Now, the good news.
The interior offensive line of the Chargers looks shaky, at best. Rookie Ryan Mathews looks like he'll be a good back, but he also lost a fumble. He ended the night with a yards per carry just a hair under 4 (3.95). Defensive tackles Terrence Knighton and Tyson Alualu should be able to put pressure on the interior line while Aaron Kampman works on second year undrafted tackle Brandyn Dombrowski. Rivers was sacked 2 times by the Chiefs and hit 5 times.
Also in favor of the Jaguars is the Chargers rush defense. Jamaal Charles averaged over 8 yards a carry against the Chargers on only 11 carries, albeit he did have a 56 yard touchdown gallop. Like the Broncos, the Jaguars should be able to pound the ball and wear down the Chargers front. The once scary pass rush of the Chargers has also taken a dive. Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel was sacked only once and hit only 3 times, and I'll take the Jaguars offensive line over the Chiefs all day long.
Finally, the special teams coverage for the Chargers looks suspect. Both rookie returners for the Chiefs, former SEC stars, Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster averaged over 30 yards per punt return, including a 94 yard touchdown return by McCluster.
I'll watch the game again when it's available on game cuts for a more in-depth match up analysis, but these are just my initial reactions.