The Jaguars just ended any semblance of hope the Titans had about making the playoffs. I don't think thrashing a team has felt so good in a long time. Jeff Fisher (the only man who may be more cold-hearted and downright evil than our own Gene Smith), was literally humiliated today. We'll see him in three weeks in the Titans' house, but I have no reason to believe we won't see Vince Young start that game.
Here's my immediate breakdown of today's big-time performers.
Derrick Harvey - Harvey played the best game of his career, without question. He's adapted to standing-up on occassion, and he was listed as a starting LB in today's game. Maybe he's under the tutelage of Mark Duffner now (our LB's coach), and if that's the case, then I have much higher hopes for his immediate development. Harvey was in the backfield on numerous plays, both run and pass. He provided pressure and hits to the quarterback, which led to Collins' atrocious game passing. This is the kind of game we need to see from Harvey consistently. The sacks will come if he plays like he did today every week.
Daryl Smith - Clint Ingram - Justin Durant - Our LB corp, led by Daryl Smith's outstanding performance, were a major part of shutting down Chris Johnson and the skilled TE's of Tennessee. Not a peep was heard save for a few catches from one of the league's top TEs in Bo Scaife, and the speedy rookie, Jared Cook was limited as well. The top unit on the defense has shown that they can handle the 3-4 responsibilities.
M. Stanley - J. Henderson - T. Knighton - D. Landri - The Jags' defensive line was stout against a strong O-line, and all played well. However, these four men stood out in particular. Landri made a touchdown saving tackle on a Chris Johnson breakaway run, Stanley batted balls and ate up blockers consistently, Henderson is playing like it's 2006, and Knighton may be the best third-round pick the Jaguars have ever made (Better even than Clint Ingram). This kid can play the NT position like Casey Hampton-lite. He's still incredibly raw, but he's going to continue to develop into the center-piece of the Jaguars' defense of the future.
M. Walker - T. Holt - M. Thomas - The injury to Troy Williamson may have been the best thing to happen to Mike Sims-Walker. Since then he's been our best WR. He's strong and instinctive, as he showed when he caught a pass on the 5 and cut right to the end-zone through 3 arm tackles. Torry Holt is a great leader, and moved into 10th place all time in receptions, congratulations Torry. Mike Thomas... wow... what can you say about this gem of a player. He brings as much to the return game as he does to the receiving unit. Dirk Koetter continues to find unique ways to utilize the gifted young man, and for that, I'm impressed.
David Garrard - The savvy QB showed why he was paid so much money. What a great and gutsy performance. He didn't miss open men, he put the ball on the spot, he ran when needed to, and he didn't turn the ball over (minus the botched snap). Great game from the team's de-facto leader.
Special Teams - Russ Purnell has apparently left his losing ways in Indy, as the Jaguars' coverage units have been spectacular. Russell Allen has shown a propensity for the ball-carrier and made a few big special teams' tackles. Josh Scobee continues to slaughter whole villages, leaving women childless and the ground barren in his wake. This guy is lights-out, and kicks the ball like he's got a vendetta against it for looking at him wrong.
Rashad Jennings - The seventh-round pick showed why Chauncey Washington was let go. He gained 53 yards in a critical time and sealed the game for the Jaguars. I know the Titans were tired, but they knew we were going to run the ball, so to still be able to churn out yards says a lot.
The Secondary - The Jaguars' secondary is clearly benefitting from the coaching of Mel Tucker. Gerald Alexander looks like he may keep Considine on the sideline when he recovers from his groin strain. Gerald snagged a pick, and forced a fumble in the time he played. I like what I see from this kid. Reggie Nelson looked better, but not great still. He was playing more instinctively and made a few plays including a fumble recovery, but that is to be expected from a veteran who was a first round pick. I need to see more from him still. Derek Cox looks to be a star. The Jaguars may have just fixed their secondary and their receiving corp in one year under Gene Smith.
Jack Del Rio - Mel Tucker - Jack continues to convince me that he is the man to turn this organization around. His stamp is clearly on this defense, and the rate they are progressing from week-to-week is staggering. I mean, we're employing a new defensive scheme, we're riddled with rookies and journey-men, and the last six quarters we've shut down two prominent offenses. One that can pass well, and one that can run well. I'm utterly shocked. Props to Mel Tucker specifically for the growth of the secondary and Derek Cox. He's got them fighting for turnovers, which the Jaguars continue to capitalize on.
Dirk Koetter - Called his second consectutive great game. Dirk has me thinking I may have been wrong to throw him under the bus as a problem. His play calling has become less predicatble, and I love the designs he's employing to get our play-makers the ball. Passes to MJD, inside hand-off to Z. Miller, and the motion-toss-sweep to M. Thomas all impressed me. Pass plays that are designed picks (officials miss those A LOT), and attacking the defense's weaknesses was a delight to watch. Way to go Dirk.
Gene Smith's draft class - Holy cow... This team has undergone one of the most drastic transformations I've ever seen in my life over the last 9 months. Gene's draft class and free-agent pick-ups have all been fantastic. That's actually an understatement. They've been spectacular. They've been game-changing. They've been heroic. I can't say enough about how impressed I am with Gene Smith. All hail the evil, conniving, masterful, deceptive, and heartless Gene Smith.