The official start of the NFL season is this upcoming Thursday, as the Saints visit the Packers, but the first full day of football is this Sunday, September 11th. I am here to give you the season preview for the 2011 version of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now the Jags didn’t have a very good preseason mustering only one win in the four games, but again it’s the preseason. The hope is that somehow the team pulls of a better regular season than preseason. Here are some keys for a successful season for the Jags.
QB Play. With the release of David Garrard, Luke Mcown will now become the starter at least for the opener against the Titans. Can McCown put together enough talent to pull this team to a few wins, or will he be replaced early on by Blaine Gabbert. The Jags may go sign someone else as well down the line, but the money is on Gabbert being given the reigns at some point this years, but can he play well enough to pull the team together.
Skill position play. Can the WRs give McCown/Gabbert the help he needs to move the team down the field. Mike Thomas and Jason Hill are the starters, with Cecil Shorts III playing the third receiver role. Mercedes Lewis and Zach Miller play at TE, and of course Maurice Jones Drew at running back. With all these players the Jags definitely have threats but can they produce and can McCown/Gabbert get them the ball on a consistant basis. If the run game can come to life and receivers can make good plays down field the Jaguars could turn some heads this year.
OL Play. The line has to open holes in the run game, something it was able to do last season, but it must also keep McCown/Gabbert off their backs and give them time to find his playmakers down field. If the line can play even remotely consistent the Jags can squeak out a few wins, but keeping the two QBs safe is the main priority.
Defense. Sure the jags added Clint Sessions, Paul Posluszny, Dawan Landry, and Dwight Lowery, but they only had two sacks in the pre-season. TWO! Are you kidding me? This team needs to get after the quarterback, you play Matt Schaub twice and Peyton Manning isn’t going to miss the whole season, these two guys will pick this team apart if given too much time. Not to mention you must play Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New Orleans, San Diego, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta, all these teams have great QBs that will kill a defense if they get forever to throw the ball.
This season could be very frustrating for the Jags if they can’t right the ship and get things going good. The Jags also have one of the toughest schedules in the league. In the first 8 weeks they play Tennessee, New York Jets, Carolina, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Houston, all before a bye week, and while they may beat Tennessee, Carolina, and Cincy and maybe catch someone else sleeping or looking ahead, don’t count on it.
I think 4-4 would be a amazing start to the season, but honestly I see a 2-6 start as the only two teams they will beat will be Tennessee and Cincinnati. It doesn’t get much better after the week 8 bye, as they open back up in Indy, and then in Cleveland. Then three straight home games against Houston, San Diego, and Tampa Bay. The Jags then play the last two road games in Atlanta and Tennessee before coming home to finish against Indy again.
At the end here I see them going 3-5, for a finish of 5-11 and a very early draft pick. The team just hasn’t made enough impact to make me think they are ready to fully contend and well their schedule didn’t do them any favors either. Hopefully this team will prove every critic wrong and pull off something amazing this season, because after all this is the NFL and on any given Sunday anything can happen.