The Jacksonville Jaguars will fly to San Diego on Saturday and keep a "normal" work week schedule, rather than fly out early like they did last year. This will eliminate idle time, and you know what they say; an idle mind is the devil's workshop.
It was definitely a workshop last year on the west coast.
I hate to be the Debbie Downer coming off a good win against the Denver Broncos where the Jaguars looked like a resilient and relentless football team, but I'm still weary of the trip out west. It just seems ripe for an ambush.
The San Diego Chargers got surprised by the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night in the rain in a packed Arrowhead Stadium. It's a Chargers football team that's had a lot of turnover in the off-season and not the same team we've watched the past couple seasons. Shawne Merriman isn't the same old Shawne Merriman anymore. The team is without their best wide receiver in Vincent Jackson and their best left tackle in Marcus McNeill. The Chargers lost LaDainian Tomlinson to the New York Jets after feeling like he had nothing left in the tank, but despite unimpressive numbers on Monday Night looked like he still had some fuel left. Kassim Osgood, while primarily a special teams player, was big time guy in the locker room and the Chargers special teams was atrocious. Then troubled cornerback Antonio Cromartie was traded to the New York Jets, leaving a hole in the Chargers secondary. Finally, veteran nose tackle Jamal Williams left for the Denver Broncos in free agency.
That's a lot of pieces to lose in a single off-season.
Realistically the Chargers didn't play that poorly against the Chiefs. Two big plays really sealed it for them, Dexter McCluster's 94-yard punt return before the half and Jamaal Charles' 56 yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Other than that, the Chiefs offense was non-existent. The Chargers gave up two big plays and turned the football over, that's what killed them.
If you just go by the numbers, Phillip Rivers threw for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns. The Chargers ran the ball for over 100 yards and 4.1 yards per carry. Their defense held the Chiefs to 68 (SIXTY-EIGHT) passing yards and outside of the 56-yard touchdown run held them to 75 rushing yards and 3 yards per carry. The Chargers dominated everything but the scoreboard.
The Jaguars do look to have the make up of a more mentally tough football team this season, so it's tough to see the west coast being an issue again. I cannot however, get the 61-3 west coast trips out of my head from last season. Before heading to Seattle to get run over by the Seahawks in a 41-0 loss, the Jaguars were on a high coming off a 37-17 drubbing of the Tennessee Titans that had David Garrard throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns.
Match-up wise, it should be a fairly even and competitive football game.
This game in my gut just feels like a trap, though. Hopefully when the Jaguars make their way out of the tunnel in Qualcomm, they will see Admiral Ackbar on the way out and heed the warning.
The Jaguars are 2-1 under Jack Del Rio against the Chargers and 10-7 all time in 4 o'clock kick-offs. The lone loss against the Chargers was in San Diego in 2004.