If you go back to the early part of the season, it was hard to trust the Jaguars. They would do something wonderful and then the next week look awful. The Monday Night game against Tennessee was a breaking point for me. That game showed nothing.But the Jaguars are showing something now. They are beginning to knock on the door of a serious playoff contender.
After the jump, let’s look at five reasons this might be occurring. See if you agree or have some ideas yourself.
The Offensive Line is working better. I am no expert but I have always liked Vince Manuwai and suspected Justin Smiley wasn’t healthy. Vince Manuwai is working out very well next to Eugene Monroe. I also like what Jordan Black has been doing on the right tackle side. Maybe he doesn’t have the upside of Eben Britton but he has a lot of experience and is holding his own over there. The sacks I saw David take were coverage sacks, not as much line breakdown sacks. Plus the running has improved in the last three games. This is the offensive line we needed all year.
Maurice looks healthy again. They wouldn’t admit Maurice Jones-Drew was injured but he looked completely different against Houston than any other time. The quickness was back, the power was back, Maurice was back. The game against Cleveland proved it. He was as fresh on the last play as he was on the first play. He feels good again and you can see it. With the line more solid and Maurice healthy, we are much stronger now.
The run stopping quarterback hassling defensive line has emerged. I might not buy into all of the Gene Smith hype, but Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu are fantastic football players. Terrance Knighton is better right now. Houston was determined to run the ball and they couldn’t do it. Cleveland was determined to run the ball and they couldn’t do it. The Jaguars can run the ball and stop the run. They are reforming into a physical team. Kudos to Jeramy Mincey as well!
Marcedes Lewis has decided to be great. He always had the talent, always. But there is not a more valuable tight end in this league right now than Marcedes. Want him to block? You got it. Want him downfield in the seam? You got it. Want him at the goal line? He is there. That touchdown against Cleveland was a highlight catch and score. Every game he gets better and can carry the team in critical situations.
The Jaguars are physical again. When I moved down here in 2005, I fell in love with the physical hard hitting nature of how they played. That left the team about mid-year 2008 and I haven’t seen it since. Well, not until the last two or three games. I watched the offensive line blow Cleveland off the line. I saw eight guys on the Cleveland defense try to stop us and couldn’t. I saw people helping Cleveland players up and to the side lines all game. I saw Colt McCoy go down repeatedly. I even saw Derrick Harvey catch him. BAM, BAM, BAM on every play, the Jaguars were hitting and hitting hard. Cleveland was supposed to be a physical team, they weren’t. We were. Unbelievable good fun to watch.
I know we should have lost the game against Cleveland due to turnovers. There is no way to do that every week and win. The Jaguars will be blown out again if they do commit that many turnovers. However, there is some really good football being played right now by our team. We will need it, but I am enjoying them again. Real football is emerging in jacksonville again.
How about you? How do you see it?
- Terry O’Brien