Nothing like a Sunday Morning to get the blood flowing and the pulse racing. No matter how long and dreadful of a week I have at my "real" job, nothing beats waking up on Sunday and getting ready for the games.
A quick aside. I'm currently reading John Feinstein's Next Man Up and it's fantastic. I've got no real affinity toward the Baltimore Ravens, but the inside look at a team that John gives is amazing reading. I wish there was a book with that sort of access about our Jaguars. Anyhow, if you're interested in an inside look at the operations and machinations of an NFL team, pick it up.
Ok, lets get down to it.
Injuries: Scobee and Meester are still out. John Henderson is doubtful, and with the NFL rules on player participation and the Injury List, he's a stretch to play. Brian Williams, who's been limited in practice with an ankle injury, is probable. As is Matt Jones (heel), LB Clint Ingram (ankle), DT Tony McDaniel (knee), and TE Greg Estandia (Illness).
The Most important name on that list is John Henderson. I preach and preach the importance of syncing our defensive line, and while injuries and rotation are part of the game, keeping the Denver run game contained could be difficult.
Stats and Errata:
- The Jaguars are 5-3 against AFC West opponents in the last eight games.
- The Jaguars finished 2-6 on the road last season after going 6-2 on the road in the previous season
- Jacksonville and Denver have played 5 times in the regular season, with Denver winning 3 times. We've played twice in the postseason, winning 30-77 in 1996 and losing 42-17 in 1997.
- Jacksonville is last in the AFC South standings. In a weird sort of way, I'd encourage all of you to hope the Texans beat the Colts, so that our friends in Indiana don't get an early lead on the division race.
- Jacksonville has the 7th best record since 2004. we're 30-20.
- We're last in rush defense and first in pass defense. We're 2nd in points allowed, 2nd in sacks (9, thanks Joey!
Dominate at the point of attack: Maybe it's because I'm a little old school, but I'm a believer that everything starts and ends at the offensive line. It's going to be all about the little things, getting that first step, attacking the right gaps, and making the holes just a little bit bigger than we've done so far. We know that Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor don't need much, just that little crease that lets them into the second level. It's a battle of fundamentals, our line is too good to lose ground to the Denver D-line. Denver was gashed last week by Lamont Jordan, the Jaguars MUST have a better ground game than the Raiders...Right? Champ Bailey and Dre Bly are more than good enough to cover our receivers, so expect to see safeties creeping up into the "box" to stifle the running game.
Use the Tight Ends: With safeties coming into the box to stuff the run, and our receivers getting blanketed by two of the best in the league, our passing game is going to be held up by our Tight Ends. I'm convinced that we're watching the emergence of Marcades Lewis so far this season, and I'd like to see the ball end up in his hands today. I'd suspect that with the focus on stopping the run that we'll get some advantageous matchups with our tight ends. If the Broncos are "daring Garrard to throw", we'll burn em with our TE's.
Keep Alive on 3rd down: Make the third down conversion and win the game. It's a pretty easy concept. If our offense is on the field, we're going to get points, even if it's just a field goal. The more our offense plays, the more we can wear out the defensive line and open up more running plays. Think of it this way, in what could be a low scoring game winning can be seeing Carney, and losing looks like Podlish. 3 points good, punting bad.
How to Win: Defense
Don't let Denver be Denver: Stop the Run, Stop the Run, Stop the Run. We've seen Travis Henry before, so we'll know how to stuff him. On defense, winning comes down to this. Stop the Run.
Frustrate Cutler: Jay has looked pretty good, averaging 279 yards per game in the air. He's dangerous on the play-action bootleg, and given the running game, can fake out the best teams. Jacksonville needs to show some unique blitzes and coverages to confuse him. Remember, he's only a 2nd year quarterback. Mike Smith is one of the best defensive minds in the game, so if there's at trick in the sleeve, this is the week to use it.
What's at Stake: Jacksonville needs a win here to keep their heads above water. 2 and 1 going into a bye week gives us a little momentum and keeps us from playing desperate. After our bye comes a tough stretch of three conference and division games, that we realistically need to sweep in order to keep up with the Colts in the AFC. Most teams don't have this sort of pressure so early in the season, but when you're in the AFC South, it's all you can do to stay in the hunt.
If you're following along with the games on your computer, I'd encourage you to follow along with the Live Blog that I'll put up closer to game time. Our friends over at Mile High Report will be doing the same, so I strongly encourage you to check them out!
I'll be back before game time for the live blog!