The first quarter has been filled with some great moments (Week 4) and some not so great moments (Week 2.) In between, we have seen a team that came into the season with tempered expectations amongst a gutted roster. Now, that roster has begun to show signs of life that has the word "Playoffs" being spoke and the idea of going 6-2 heading into a showdown against the New York Jets a possibility. However, I think this team is somewhere in between at the moment.
David Garrard has begun to regain his 2007 form, averaging over 235 yards a game and already has five touchdowns to start the season. The main concern for me though is that he only has a completion percentage of 59.7%. David's resurgence can be thanked in part to the resurgence of the offensive line. In the last two weeks, David has been given all the time in the world and it has shown.
The other key to the resurgence of the passing game has been the fact the Jaguars no longer have a CFL level wide receiving corp.Mike Sims-Walker has been a monster since being forced into the starting line up due to Troy Williamson's season ending injury. Torry Holt has been a nice veteran edition who still has something left in the tank. The one disappointment so far has been dearly departed Nate Hughes. I felt like he was scape goated for the loss to Arizona.
Maurice Jones-Drew was made one of the highest paid running backs in the league and he has played like it through four weeks. MJD has 296 rushing yards and five touch downs in the through the first five games on the season. Keep in mind that is including the Titans game where he only had six carries. Overall I'm very pleased with how Jones-Drew has taken to being the starting running back.
Biggest surprise to the run game has been Mike Thomas' edition. Thomas gives the Jaguars a nice change of pace player off the end around that has paid nice dividends so far.
The defense has been in a state of transition going from a 4-3 to a 3-4. However, the rush defense has been adequate for the Jaguars. The Jags currently rank 12th in the NFL against the rush giving up 98.8 yards a game. This can be thanked in part to the emergence of Terrance Knighton as a legitimate 3-4 NT (and to think some people wanted us to draft B.J. Raji) and John Henderson's career revival as a 3-4 DE. However, the low rush numbers can also be thanked by something else.........
Or lack there of. The Jaguars are tied for dead last in the NFL allowing 282 yards a game in the air and opposing QBs are averaging a 97.2 QB rating against the Jaguars defense. The first two and a half games were horrific to watch, to say the least. However, it seems the defensive line is now starting to get pressure and rookie Derek Cox is getting his footing and showing why he was worth a 2nd round investment. However, the weak link that still exists is FS Reggie Nelson. Nelson is constantly out of place and is going to cost us more big plays in the future. As I told Terry on Sunday, let's hope some team is dumb enough to swap first round picks and take Reggie Nelson in a trade that'll let us take Eric Berry.
Josh Scobee's 70% FG accuracy is something of a misnomer considering two of his three misses were from 56 and 62 yards. Discounting those two misses, Scobee is 7/8 and I dare say has become the best kicker in the NFL. Also, Scobee is second in the league averaging 71.1 yards a kick off. In other words, Scobee's AVERAGE kickoff is landing a yard deep in the end zone.
On the flip side, Adam Podlesh is an enigma. Podlesh currently ranks 26th in the league with a 36.1 yard net average. The strange thing is his actual average is 39.7 yards, meaning he's getting a lot of fair catches.Still, he needs to show something more than any other journeyman punter.
The coverage units have been solid so far, certainly aided by Scobee's bombing kick offs. While the haven't been at the top of the league, they are far from the disaster many fans feared when Russ Purnell was hired.
The returning duties have been a game of musical chairs that have seemingly found a winner in Mike Thomas. Thomas has looked excellent so far in his duties and I'm sure a highlight reel punt return for touchdown is coming soon.
The Jaguars are sixth in the league with a +4 turnover differential and are tied for sixth in the league for fewest penalties with 19. For a team that is transition, these are huge and I don't think I need to explain why
I'm going to save my thoughts on the Jaguars' coaching for a separate article.
MVP: Mike Sims-Walker
Sims-Walker has been the spark plug a sputtering offense has needed foe years. Now that he is finally healthy we see what all of the hype was about and he is well on his way to becoming a true #1 wide receiver in the league.
Best Rookie: Terrance Knighton
A tough call between Knighton and fellow third rounder Derek Cox. However, I went with Knighton for almost singlehandidly helping lead a resurgence on the defensive line.