It's opening day. The magic is in the air. Can you feel it? It is absolutely my favorite day of the year hands down. The expectations were high. All of the 2009 offseason the Jaguars were classified as a young (really young) team on the rise but will they take the next step? The pieces were in place: a good, not great QB, a pro-bowl running back, a tight end that was seen as monstrous and the coaches were raving about all summer, and a defense that brought in some crucial pieces and will get better. So weekly I'm going to analyze how it all turned out, analyzing each and every game last season, spending hours reviewing the tape, and experiencing all the highs and lows I live for all over again. So buckle up for the ride.
Both the Broncos and Jags were young all around, the questions surrounding of the implementation of Tim Tebow and suffering a heartbreaking injury in Elvis Dumervil for the season. On opening day, all doubts are left behind, and the season truly begins. Important to note this game was the hottest in Jaguars history at 92 degrees and a heat index of 102.
- Right off the bat Justin Durant bites on a play action that has the whole play moving right and tight end Daniel Graham slipped out left for a huge gain.
- 2 plays later Tebow gets his first NFL snap in the Broncos' hybrid taking the snap up the middle for no gains and a huge amount of booes from Jags fans right on cue.
- The very next play, a huge problem I saw throughout the season: Jags' D gets caught in a base 4-3 and has a linebacker on Eddie Royal, who proceeds to burn past the linebacker for a first down.
- A huge set of plays occurs, as faced with a 3rd and 1, the Broncos get tagged with a holding penalty, followed by a huge sack on 3rd and 11 by newcomer Aaron Kampman that electrifies the crowd and knocks the broncos out of field goal range.
- Jags offense is flat to start, but Mike Thomas makes a nice catch over the shoulder on 3rd down for 20 yards over Champ Bailey that became an indicator of Thomas's increased role in the offense. Podlesh punts a beauty for 56 yards to the Broncos' 7.
- Rashean Mathis makes a great play on 3rd and long jamming the receiver throwing him off the slant route (are we talking about Rashean playing at the line of scrimmage no way) and beats him to the spot and drops the easy pick
- At the end of the first this game has become a game of field position, as Podlesh punts and Kassim Osgood's signing already pays off as he knocks down the ball going into the end zone to down it at the Broncos' 4.
- The Broncos start to drive with short runs and a bubble screen to Eddie Royal that no one was prepared for on the defense.
- The short passes were getting to the Jags. Eddie Royal, again, take a short pass, schools cox on a double move back to the ball, then stiff arms him to add insult to injury for 15 yards. Here's where that tackling comes in...
- A gutsy run for a first down on 4th and 1 by Buckhalter is followed by him getting cracked by four defenders, and him fumbling deep in Jags' territory and Considine recovering the ball.
- The Jags have a quick series ending with a punt, then Alualu gets his first NFL sack as a Jaguar impressively breaking a double team on third down to provide the pass rush the Jags needed.
- Finally a drive comes together for the Jags offense. A terrible draw on 3rd and 2 for 1 yard is followed by a gutsy 4 yard run by MJD on 4th down.
- A Mike Thomas diving catch for 26 yards sets up Marcedes Lewis burning a linebacker on a crossing route, turning up the sideline, and leaping into the end zone for a relieving Jaguars touchdown.
- On a sour note, with only 40 seconds left before the half, Brandon Lloyd immediately burns Derek Cox, what will be a trend in this game, for 41 yards to the Jags' 33 that leads to a touchdown for a pesky Jabar Gaffney in the back of the end zone with 16 seconds left that leaves the game tied 7-7 at half.
One thing of note that I noticed immediately was an improved pass rush. Orton was getting hit on nearly every play and hit hard, especially on the sacks by Kampman and Alualu.