The Jaguars won their opening game for the 1st time since 2006. Was Denver a good team? I am not sure but the real test will come this Sunday. Jack Del Rio and his players are heading West to clash with the San Diego Chargers. Although Norv Turner and his team lost on Monday, don’t even think this will be an easy game. I still consider San Diego to be the main favorite to win the AFC West for the 5th time in a row. But this does not mean they don’t have weak points. I will give you some places where the Jaguars might have advantage.
The Chargers run defense is shaky. Jamaal Charles had 8.4 yards average per carry against them; including a 56 yard long TD. Antonio Garay and Luis Castillo are very good players but I think the Jaguars can run toward Jacques Cesaire and the interior LB unit very effectively. Maurice Jones-Drew had a solid game against the Broncos but he needs to show more of his phenomenal ability in San Diego. He can/must(?) have a 100+ yard game to have the Jaguars any chance for something big.
The Chargers can’t protect Philip Rivers. It looks like Marcus McNeill will not play this game, so Brandyn Dombrowski will be the starting LT again who’s hands will be full with Aaron Kampman. Aaron looks like he is near 100%; and had a pretty good game against Ryan Clady who is considered a much better left tackle than the Chargers 2ndyear player. But the real weak point is not him but Jeromey Clery who had a horrible game vs. the Chiefs. Once again; Derrick Harvey must prove something! Can he put pressure on the QB? He was good against the run and put pressure, but a sack would go a long way for him! I don’t expect Kampman like pressure (=1, 5 sack, 6 QB hurries); but something! The Chiefs defense sacked Rivers 2 times and produced 5 QB hurries. That is our mark to beat.
San Diego has problems with the pass rush. We don’t know the game status of Shawn Merriman; but without him; the Chargers looked often lost against Kansas City. Shaun Philips had 1 sack against Matt Cassel who played not exactly his best game. (By the way watch out for him. Britton vs. him will be a key match up; and something we need to focus. Eben; it’s time to prove that you can worth that 2nd round pick.) Cassel held the ball way too long and despite that he was sacked only once and suffered 2 QB hits. Giving David Garrard time will be key for this game; and I think Monroe and Britton (and the whole offensive line) can produce another solid game this week.
Stopping the run is also something the Jaguars run defense can do. Ryan Matthews is a promising rookie back with rookie flaws and of course he is not –yet- the second coming of LaDanian Tomlinson. I think the Jaguars can get a fumble from him. Where was Darren Sproles? He was a complete non factor in Monday night. He ran or caught he ball 7 times. For 5 total yards…I hope he will be limited around the same level by Knighton and co.
The Chargers special team unit looked everything but special on Monday night. Rookies Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas did whatever they want all night long. We don’t know if Scotty McGee or Deji Karim can play this game or not; but whoever will return punts and kicks can give excellent starting position for the Jaguars. I’m sure the Chargers already miss Kassim Osgood….(by the way; note to everyone; who thinks the game against the Chiefs on Week 7, in Arrowhead Stadium will be an easy W- think again. Watching the MNF makes me feel that game will be a very tough one to win. If Cassel -or somebody else- can lead them; look out for the Chiefs. Scott Pioli in fact has not forgotten how to build a strong team…)
Now when someone read these kinds of mismatches can think: “Oh they Jaguars have a pretty good shot on this game.” Sadly they’re wrong. Why? 2 words: Philip Rivers