If you listened to BCC Radio last week, or if you've been following this site for the past few years, you know the two games the Jaguars play versus the Titans are must wins. Sunday's victory over Tennessee was a perfect remedy for the seven week hangover that was the 30-3 loss in Jacksonville.
There were so many big players up in Nashville that it is almost unfair Maurice Jones-Drew is getting so much attention. Call it cliche but when Drew stated the offensive line deserved the game ball I believe he was speaking the truth and from the heart. Pocket Hercules was not forcing his way into open territory, he was blowing past would be defenders. The war elephants in front of him made it perfectly clear they were on the march.
On the defensive side of the ball there was a front four bulldozer and blanket back seven which ensured no big plays to be had: You do not stop Chris Johnson by luck and with limited effort. Of his 15 runs, five were for one yard or less including 3 for a negative gain. Huge.
With Dallas beating the Colts, Jacksonville is in the playoff hunt, where they were last year with four games remaining. And like last year a critical game with Indianapolis falls within frame. Let's hope there is more big left in Jack's team.
Now, onto some quick thoughts.
- This is the first time the Jaguars have scored 20 points or less and won. In the Jack Del Rio era, winning and not scoring do not go hand in hand. To put that in perspective, they did it once last year (18-15 over Buffalo) and once in 2008 (20-16 over Green Bay). In 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 they did it twice and in 2004 they did it four times. The Steelers, on the other hand, have won four games just this year scoring under 20.
- Something special is happening to the defensive front four. Paul Kuharsky spoke specifically about the tackles, Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton, here. But even our DE rotation looks to be an efficient solution. Kerry Collins was looking at a collapsing pocket all day long. Now there were times when the Titans offensive line gave him protection and he was able to find an open receiver. The Jaguars can't sit on a four man rush if they want to keep the pressure on and therefore will need to bring that fifth rusher more than they'd like. Still, it is a far cry from the horrors we've seen the three years prior.
- Speaking of Kuharsky, does he have a Dr. Seuss book in the works? This on the Jaguars from his "What I think they are thinking" piece.
We can win on the road. We can win in the cold.
- I can not say enough about the effort Darryl Smith and Justin Durant gave in containing Chris Johnson and in pass coverage. Cole Pepper and Pete Banaszak gave the defensive game ball to Derek Cox, and I can see why, but I think it belonged to Smith. He was noted by them both as a close runner up. Daryl played smart, assignment football and wasn't overly aggressive in his pursuit. The deflection on the Titans last offensive series allowed William Middleton to make the interception, sealing the game. No offense to Kirk Morrison, the guy is a great team player and a big time work ethic example, but Smith and Durant need help in the form of another play maker at the position.
- I wonder how the fan base would be reacting to Rashean Mathis had he not taken his contract stance this past summer. Apart from some bad play against Andre Johnson, he has not been the bane of the defense's existence as some have made him out to be.
- Oddly enough your top two tacklers (in order) were Mathis and Smith. Cox (2) and Smith (1) were credited with three of the team's four passes defensed.
- At this point in the season, Jack Del Rio has my vote for coach of the year: Followed closely by Raheem Morris and Steve Spagnuolo. I do not believe either of the other two coaches have had to deal with the distractions and player issues Jack and his staff have encountered. Keeping these young players mentally focused in spite of the early season blowouts is a feat in itself. Bouncing back from the crushing Giants loss to win in Tennessee, a place where the Jaguars normally fail, pushes him further ahead.
- If Tennessee is going to unload Jeff Fisher, might I suggest making a cosmetic change as well. The blue on blue uniforms look like pajamas.
- Speaking of uniforms, if Tampa isn't wearing those hideous metro sexual throwbacks they beat the Falcons. You simply can not be tough in peach.
- We spoke a bit on Cortland Finnegan on BCC Radio and I noted that Cortland is not as dirty a player as he is being made out to be. Sure he has had his moments but Donovan Darius played pretty physical as well and Jaguars fans loved that about him. He did not look imposing while trying to stop the run and I wonder if there was something in the back of his head which was throttling back his play. Regardless, I want to give credit to Peter King for noting the other side of Finnegan in his MMQB piece. It ends with the quote below. I think it is important for those in the national media to remind us, when they can, that these players have a private side and that we might want to judge them based on that information as well.
Doesn't matter what you've said
or what you've done
When you've lost your head
You're looking for a new one
Uncle Tupelo - Cold Shoulder