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Titans @ Jaguars: The Battle for the Toughness Title

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Their defensive coordinator flips off referees. An opposing QB and opposing coach have called them 'cheap' and 'dirty.' Ask the Jaguars and they disagree. They call the Titans tough.

"We're two physical teams that are going to play hard against each other. It's who is the toughest team in the division? It's going to be an exciting Monday night." - Rashean Mathis

"It will be exciting. Last year Coach [Jack Del Rio] called these our two-chinstrap games because they're going to be hard-hitting. It's going to be a battle and it's going to be a lot of fun." - Eben Britton

Ever since Jack Del Rio took over as head coach of the Jaguars, the team has aspired to be defined as a tough, hard-nosed football team. Between 2004-2007, the Jaguars had a hard hitting defense with a pair of monster tackles. "Welcome to Duval, prepare to be hit," was the way Mike Peterson introduced the defense to a national before a shutout victory over the Steelers on Monday Night Football in 2006.

The Jaguars have since seen their once feared defense crumble to the 30th ranked unit of 2010. When the defense fell apart, it was the rushing game that took the torch for a team that still wanted to call itself a smashmouth football team. Fast forward to 2010 and the Jaguars have the 4th ranked rushing offense in the league on the 2nd most attempts.

When asked by Dan Patrick if the Titans are a dirty team, Maurice Jones-Drew said, "No, not at all. They're a tough team." The Jaguars don't complain about that stuff according to MJD. "We never complain. We're tougher than other teams, I guess."

The Jaguars want to show they're a tough team, ready to play a hard hitting game? Here's the national stage. National television against the team that is 3rd in the league in penalties and 1st in personal fouls. I know Alfie says the Jaguars will need to effectively pass the ball against the Titans and that's probably true. But this is also a chance for the Jaguars to show that they are the team they're trying to be. Whether or not they can accomplish both, I don't know. But as Marcedes Lewis told Paul Kuharsky, a national stage can do a lot to sway people's perception of a team:

"We understand there are going to be more lights, more cameras and everything else. But at the end of the day you still have to go out there and play football ... We can change perception a lot. All we have to do is go out there and handle our business, regardless of what Tennessee is doing. We're going to have a good showing and a great crowd out there. It won't be disappointing." - Marcedes Lewis