The Jacksonville Jaguars open up the 2013 season this weekend against the Kanas City Chiefs. Just about everywhere I’ve looked has the Chiefs pretty much completely dominating this game. In a nutshell, the Jaguars don’t stand a chance according to the experts.
How does this happen? The Kansas City Chiefs were every bit as bad as the Jaguars were last year. Is it Jamaal Charles? Is it the numerous pro bowlers who headline there defense? Is it the multiple free agent acquisitions that were made such as Alex Smith?
Whatever it is, it seems many media outlets are pretty much calling this one over before it even begins.
It’s perceived that the Jaguars have not made a lot of changes on their roster. I beg to differ. This roster is under constant churn as shown last week when the Jaguars claimed several players off of waivers including TE Clay Harbor, TE D.J. Williams, LB J.T. Thomas, DE Chris McCoy, OG Jaques McLendon, S Winston Guy, and WR Stephen Burton.
The Jaguars’ entire rookie class made the team. Jeremy Harris is on I.R.. Two undrafted rookie free agents inDT Abry Jones and LB LaRoy Reynolds made roster as well. Sen’Derrick Marks and Roy Miller look to be key players along the defensive line, and are shaping up to be the two biggest free agent signings of Caldwell.
The offensive line is healthy. The secondary is brand spanking new, and are much, much faster than what the Jaguars have fielded in previous seasons.
So what can we expect this week against the Chiefs?
- Blaine Gabbert’s thumb. All of a sudden it doesn’t seem so set in stone that Gabbert will actually start this game, and if he does he won’t be 100%. I’m betting that he does start, but if not Henne will be forced to take the reins once more. This isn’t a preseason game. Let’s hope and pray Henne performs as well as he did as during the Jaguars “dress rehearsal”. All in all, if Gabbert can’t go, Henne will have to be ready.
- Tamba Hali and Justin Houston vs. Eugene Monroe and Luke Joeckel. This will be a great test for our bookend tackles. No matter who is under center for the Jaguars, if these two offensive tackles don’t perform it won’t matter.
- Jamaal Charles vs. Jaguars defensive line: Charles is explosive and not many in the NFL have his kind of skill set. If our defensive tackles aren’t able to contain Charles, then the Jaguars are in for a long day. Marks and Miller will have to be on their A-game. Will teams be able to run up and down the field against the Jaguars this year like they did in 2012?
- Andy Reid’s vertical attack vs. young secondary: We all know Andy Reid likes to air it out. Does Alex Smith have what it takes to operate this offense? Can Alan Ball and Dwayne Gratz cover the likes of Dwayne Bowe?
I’m not expecting the Jags to be world beaters here. What am I expecting?
I’m expecting the Jaguars to stay in the game. I’m expecting the Jaguars to play fast. I’m expecting the Jaguars to play fundamentally sound football. Tackle. Don’t blow coverages. Don’t beat themselves with penalties and turnovers.
If we see these things in week 1, then the Jaguars will already be on their way to being better than they were the last four years.
-David R. Johns