What's Next - Taking the Division (Part I)

Since the formation of the AFC South in 2002, the Jaguars have never won the division.  Yet year after year we hear from our dear Jack Del Rio, GM Gene Smith, and Owner Wayne Weaver tell us we’re going to win the division.  While I’m sure they’re scheming each and every week trying to figure out how to go about it, we’ll break it down team by team here on What’s Next at Black and Teal.  Each week for he next three weeks we’ll analyze how to dismantle our division foes until only the Jaguars are the only ones left standing.

This week:  The Tennessee Titans! 


Unlike the Jags, the Tennessee Titans have been a bit of a powerhouse in the AFC South, they have taken the crown three times, good for second most in the division (behind the dreaded Colts).  But, as of late, they have been a very streaky team, rarely appearing good except when they are and then they’re good. Fortunately the last time they were really good was 2008, and since then they’ve looked pretty weak for titans.  In 2007 they were also very solid but placed 3rd behind the Jaguars and Colts and still made the playoffs, thus securing the AFC South’s dominance as one of the toughest divisions in football.  So, how do the Jaguars beat the Titans to get one step closer to crowning themselves kings of one of the toughest divisions?

1)  The passing game/pass rush.  As we all know (and knew) Vince Young simply doesn’t play football all that well.  The Titans finally noticed after a few years of mediocrity and are in the midst of transition to Jake Locker.  No matter how good Locker is out of the gates, he isn’t going to be that good.  The kid isn’t Peyton Manning in his prime, and the Jaguars need to go after him.  Next season (if it ever happens) has the Jags playing the Titans the first week.  If Jake Locker starts (as I anticipate he will), the Jaguars need to punish him.  Get him on the ground, sack him, hit him, pressure him, but make sure he feels unsteady.  It could derail his entire season, and every time he faces the Jaguars again (like in week 16) he will be thinking of Alualu’s violent hands, Kampman’s burst from the side, and Pot Roast’s massive frame falling on him.  If the Jags disrupt Jake Locker, the Titans will be very one dimensional.  And no matter how good Chris Johnson is, he can’t beat us that badly.

2) Stop Chris Johnson.  Period.  I love Jack Del Rio’s philosophy of run the ball-stop the run.  But the whole stopping the run thing hasn’t really been happening the past few years, and all we need is CJ2K going after us.  I think that GM Gene has addressed not only the pass rush but the run defense well in the past couple drafts, but what it really comes down to is good linebacker play.  Chris Johnson will get a few yards, but if he gets past the front four the Jags need to ensure that the linebackers can wrap him up.  Unfortunately, the linebacking corps is…..less than adequate currently.  Unless the Jags can do something in free agency, it will be a whole lot harder to slow down Chris Johnson.

3)  Limit Kenny Britt and co.  The Titans have a far better receiving corps than people give them credit for.  Kenny Britt became a star last season, Randy Moss (will he still be there?) stretches the field, and they have some very solid up-and-comers like Marc Mariani (out of my dear Montana).  Look for some very active play from them trying to bail out their young quarterback.  I think that the wide receiving group can do a lot of damage when they’re playing well, and only through improved corner play will we really stop them.  I think Derek Cox will do fine, and Mathis definitely still has some play left in him so, I’m not too concerned.  But whoever isin that slot spot could do a lot of damage if Locker suddenly becomes accurate.

Even with Chris Johnson and a solid receiving group, I don’t think the Titans can overcome the Jaguars destroying Jake Locker.  Of the three points listed above, the Jaguars need to ensure they get to Locker.  No matter what else the Titans have on offense, or on defense (29th in yards allowed), the Jaguars will beat the Titans if Locker doesn’t think he can win.  The Titans have only been really good behind a combination of quarterback and running back success.  By eliminating half of that equation the Jaguars will be able to force the Titans to become one dimensional, and fail.


- Luke N. Sims

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Tags: Aaron Kampman AFC South Chris Johnson Derek Cox Indianapolis Colts Jacksonville Jaguars Jake Locker Marc Mariani NFL Peyton Manning Randy Moss Rashean Mathis Tennessee Titans Terrance Knighton Tyson Alualu Vince Young

  • kjones407

    Nice analysis. If they can acheive two of the three, it should be a victory for the Jags.

  • zoltanfrombudapest

    Great 1st part Luke. Can’t wait to read the other 2.

  • Andrew Hofheimer

    I think this is a great idea for a feature, Luke. The Jags should definitely be looking out for Nate Washington – he stretches the field and can make the big play, when you aren’t giving him the respect he deserves.

    Great work.

  • just wait

    What’s not to like about VY
    There is no outright admission that Young wasn’t as studious as he needed to be earlier in his career. But read what offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger and Collins have to say about Young’s study habits now and connect the dots. “I think his work habits have been great,” Heimerdinger said. “He’s been spending the time, he’s been studying it. If I put something in new on Wednesday and he struggles with it, he comes back Thursday and has it down cold. He’s really working at it, he’s doing the things that you are supposed to do. He’s got to be taking it home and studying it. If I’ve got a real wordy formation and play, he has it down cold the next day. The stuff I always wondered if he’d do, he’s doing.”
    Soon to be former Titans QB Vince Young posted the fourth best passer rating on third down in the league last season.The quarterbacks in front of Young were Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Jon Kitna. Behind V.Y. were Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Michael Vick, and Philip Rivers in that order. Young played in nine games with eight starts, so it isn’t like this is a small sample size.
    And Young can be that stud. He has done everything well at times during his career. He’s staged comebacks. He’s been an effective short passer. He’s been an effective long passer – in fact, according to the film-scouring crew at ProFootballFocus.com, Young was the league’s best deep passer in 2010. Not Peyton Manning or Philip Rivers. But Vince Young.
    And he’s led a ball-control offense without taking sacks or turning the ball over.


    • Andrew Hofheimer

      Dammit. Brandon’s already sending Titans riff-raff this way…

      • http://titansized.com/author/jagtagonist/ Brandon Clark


        I haven’t met him, but I’d love to get his comments at Titan Sized

        that was a great argument! I can’t disagree

  • Kevin Grab

    I like the spirit of this piece and am in almost full agreement. There are just a lot of “if’s” involved. I will say that I am not so certain Jake Locker will be under center for that first showdown with us. If the owners and players strike a new CBA deal within the next few weeks, or even by the end of July, Locker might have enough time to get prepared to give Kerry Collins some competition. Having said that I think the chances are fairly slim that Locker gets thrown to the wolves, so to speak, starting in week 1. Unless Collins gets injured prior to the start of the season or the Titans land another FA quarterback, I would tend to think that Kerry is the man on opening day.

  • http://titansized.com/author/jagtagonist/ Brandon Clark

    good point on Britt.

    I think hes in that tier 2 group of WR’s

    the not-quite-elite’s

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