Betting on the AFC South - Jacksonville Jaguars

By: Bob Harvey | Monday, June 28, 2010

Just three years ago the Jacksonville Jaguars went 11-5 and seemed to be poised to make a serious run at the Colts for dominance in the AFC South. However, following that promising 2007 campaign, the Jags are just 12-20 with all signs pointing to another long season in 2010.


Head coach Jack Del Rio is squarely on the firing line.  After going 5-11 in 2008 and 7-9 last season, he's another slow start away from being unemployed. Ownership has lost patience, the fans have lost interest and that's never a good combination.


There's bad everywhere you look in Jacksonville. The Jags ranked 24th in the league in points scored with 18.1 per game. They were 24th in NFL defense allowing 23.8 ppg, 23rd in total yards allowed per game (352.3) and 27th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game with 235.9.  There are holes on both sides of the ball and not enough manpower to plug them.


If you trace the downfall or demise of an NFL team, the offensive and defensive lines are a good place to start. Jacksonville's offensive line allowed 42 sacks last season and 126 quarterback hits last season, both league high's. The second year tackles, Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton, were in over their head last season much to the chagrin of Garrard. Either they pick up the pace or Garrard will be forced to run for his life. (Hey isn't Tebow supposed to a pretty good scrambler?).


Now let's meet your 2010 Jacksonville Jaguars NFL offense. This shouldn't take long since we're talking about just one guy, Maurice Jones-Drew. The former UCLA standout did everything for the Jags in '09. He rushed 1,391 yards and 15 touchdowns posting a 4.5 average. He was also the team's second leading receiver with 53 grabs for 374 yards. He returned punts and kickoffs and even had six tackles. Quarterback David Garrard was effective but certainly not spectacular throwing for 3,597 yards with 15 touchdowns and ten interceptions. He ranked 17th in the league with a passer rating 83.5 but has averaged just 6.9 yards per play over the past two seasons. Mike Sims-Walker, who battled leg injuries most of the season, led the Jags with 869 yards and seven touchdowns. He's a potential 1,000 yard per season guy and gives Garrard his only real home run threat.


On defense the Jags inability to rush the passer led to many of their problems. They ranked 28th in sacks with 28 and even with the addition of Alualu it doesn't appear they've got the personnel to get better in that department any time soon. Derrick Harvey remains the team's best lineman and even with the off-season pickup of Oakland's John Morrson, the Jags linebackers are a mediocre lot at best. The Jags do have some solid defensive backs including Reggie Nelson and Rashean Mathis but they'll only be as good as the defensive line allows them to be. Pressure is the key and without Nelson and Mathis will be on the run week in and week out.


In hindsight I'm sure the Jags regret not taking local hero Tim Tebow in the draft. Even if he wasn't NFL ready, he would have sold tickets and created some interested from fans that now feel their team is unwatchable. But instead the Jags passed on the former Florida Heisman Trophy winner and took Cal defensive end Tyson Alualu with the 10th overall pick while Tebow went to the Broncos at #24.


Alualu may turn out to be a great football player; he might even become an all-pro or hall of famer. His timing however failed him by not being the right guy at this point in time for the Jags. With Tebow at the helm, the Jaguars could have gone 0-16 and they would have still gotten a pass. The Jags can talk all day long about what a wise football move it was but they truly dropped the ball at the goal line from a public relations standpoint.


The Jaguars are a football team headed in the wrong direction and to my way of thinking ownership should be the fall guy not Del Rio. They've done very little to head off relocation talk (LA Jaguars anyone?) and used the bad economy as an excuse for everything that's gone wrong with the franchise. Things are going to get a whole lot worse in J-Ville before they get better. At least fans will have one thing to look forward to and that's when Tebow comes to town on September 12nd albeit in the wrong uniform.


Most books have the Jags listed at 70/1 to win the Super Bowl and 35/1 to capture the AFC Title. Jacksonville is the longest of long shots in the AFC South race at 1000/1 and they've been give a season wins total of seven.  

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