Jaguars vs. Vikings: TV Schedule, Live Stream, Spread Info, Radio, Game Time
Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout is over, but Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey says he won't start, and he'll be used as a third-down back in the opener, per CBS Sports.
The Jags aren't exactly facing an explosive offense in Week 1. The Minnesota Vikings hope to have a healthy Adrian Peterson, but the team did little to improve their 27th ranked passing offense from 2011.
They did upgrade the LT position by drafting Matt Kalil out of USC, but Christian Ponder is still a question mark at QB, and he doesn't have a wealth of weapons at WR or TE.
In short, this is a game the Jags can stay in, even if their offense struggles early on. Let's take a closer look at this Week 1 contest.
Here’s the information you need to catch this game:
Where: Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, MN
When: September 9, 1:00 PM ET
Radio: KFAN 100.3 - Minnesota, WOKV 690 AM - Jacksonville, FL
Odds: Per OddsShark.com, Vikings are 4.5 point favorites
Brent Backett, Knee—Status not yet determined
No injuries to report
(Adrian Peterson's status hasn't officially been announced, John Oehser of Jaguars.com says the Jags are preparing as if AP is playing.)
What’s At Stake
Week 1 represents a shot at a new beginning for two teams that didn't make the playoffs the previous season. These two teams are in a similar situation.
Both have young, unproven QBs that the coaching staff and management are still evaluating.
This is the first opportunity in 2012 for both Ponder, and the Jaguars' Blaine Gabbert to prove they belong as the starter for the foreseeable future.
What They’re Saying
Oehser asked the following questions concerning MJD's possible playing time in Week 1, and he offered some logical conclusions as well:
How much will Jones-Drew actually play? That may decide itself. So long as [Rashad] Jennings is effective – and so far he has been very effective – the Jaguars have no reason to abandon the plan.
It seems likely Jennings will play well, because the offensive line has run-blocked well throughout the preseason.
If Jones-Drew runs well and is more effective, then it’s possible he could earn more carries.
Though that may be logical conclusion to make, I don't think MJD will be rewarded with more carries—even if he's effective. Whether Mularkey admits it or not, he probably has a set number of touches in mind for the star RB.
Mularkey is from the old school, and Jennings is the player that was there in practice through camp. He'll reward him with the bulk of the load in Week 1.
The Vikings have the status of their own star RB to worry about. There is no doubt AP wants to play, but he is one of those players who would play in a full-body cast if he was allowed to.
That said, coaches must look out for the best interest of him and the team. Head coach Leslie Frazier said this of AP's status to the Jamestown Sun:
"We recognize if he's able to get in this first ballgame, it'll be with limited exposure. We'll talk about it as the week goes on and see how he's doing and if it's even a viable option to let him play."
The Vikings would be smart to play it cautious with AP.
This is only Week 1. There is no reason to risk further injury this early in the season. If he isn't 100 percent, he should sit, but I don't think he will.
I fully expect to see AP on the field on Sunday, and he'll likely get 10-to-15 carries. Sounds like he and MJD's day will be very similar.
Players to Watch
Jacksonville - Blaine Gabbert
MJD's situation is getting all of the headlines, but this game and this season is all about Gabbert's progress as a QB. The Jags need him to take the next step.
Which QB will have the best game?
Now is the time for him to prove he is present and the future at QB for the Jaguars.
Minnesota - Christian Ponder
I could almost write the exact same thing here for Ponder that I did for Gabbert. The focus on the RBs could take pressure off of the young starters, but Ponder needs to play well.
Limiting turnovers will be the key in this game. Last year he threw 13 interceptions and 13 touchdowns. That ratio needs to improve to solidify himself as the Vikings' franchise QB.
Eugene Monroe vs. Jared Allen
Allen may move around a bit, but when he's matched against Monroe it'll be a great mini-game to keep an eye on.
Allen deserved the Defensive Player of the Year for his amazing season in 2011. He is one of the best—if not the best—pure pass-rushers in the NFL.
Monroe is certainly no slouch, but the fourth-year pro won't have a tougher assignment all year. How he fares on Sunday will affect Gabbert's performance immensely.
It's a lot easier to produce at QB when Allen isn't roping you like a calf all afternoon.
This is going to be a grind-it-out contest, but in the end I'm taking the Jaguars to pull out a close road victory. I give them the edge on defense, run-blocking and Gabbert is better suited to play the role of game manager.
That's the best role either QB could play in this one.
Final Score: 14-10 Jaguars
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