Headed For the Postseason? Analyzing the Jaguars Season
The begining of the 2009 season for the Jacksonville Jaguars was full of disapointment and hardships. Week one the Jaguars faced a tough Colts team, yet even after the defense stopped the Colts to set up a potential game winning drive, the offense could not even pick up one meager first down. Then came a greater disaster, the Cardinals. The Jaguars were booed off the field in the second half, and although fighting back to make it a game, still lost 31-17, in an absymal performance that may be remembered as the low point of the season.
Yet now the Jaguars season has a certain different direction, one of hope and promise, that began two weeks ago in Houston. The Jaguars offense overpowered the weak Texans defense and amassed 31 points, and outscored the Texans 14-3 in the second half to win 31-24. However, this was not the pinnacle of the early part of the season, as Jacksonville played a near flawless game against the Titans, thrashing their division rivals 37-17.
The emergence of the Jaguars offense, and defense for that matter, in the past two weeks has ushered in the main question of whether this team can or will have a shot at a playoff berth. Here we break down the rest of the teams games starting with Seatle.
Jacksonville At Seattle:
At this point the Jaguars are coming off a huge win over the Titans. The Jaguars team of old may have a let down game here, because they could come in overconfident in their abilities.
However, good news of the week is that Matt Hassleback will play. First, the aspect of Hassleback playing allows for the Jaguars to come in not overlooking the Seahawks, which may cause better play from the defense.
Also, Hassleback will not be 100%, and may favor that side of his rib more then another causing him not to be fluid.
Jacksonville's offense continues to roll, this time on a solid performance from both MJD and the passing game, and score 17 points in the first half off a Mike Sims-Walker touchdown pass from 22 yards out, and a 8 yard MJD touchdown run. Seattle counters with a Matt Hassleback touchdown at the end of the half to make it a 17-10 game.
The Seahawks take their opening drive to about the 30 yard line, but some heavy pressure forces an errant pass to be intercepted by Reggie Nelson and returned to about the 50. Marcedes Lewis catches a 17 yard strike from Garrard to open the lead to 24-10.
The Seahawks answer with a field goal, but are pinned back in there own zone most of the third quarter. However, to start the fourth quarter, a Jaguars fumble sets the Seahawks up to score on a Juilus Jones 3-yard run to make the game 24-20. Yet with around six minutes to play, Mike Thomas returns a punt 66 yards for a touchdown and Jacksonville hangs on to win 31-20.
St.Louis at Jacksonville:
Coming off a big win over the Seahawks the Jaguars come in a bit overconfident against the Rams. However, even after a slow start, the Jaguars start to really pour it on in the second quarter. After a MJD five-yard touchdown run followed with a field goal, the Jaguars only lead 10-3.
However, in the second quarter, Torry Holt's knowledge of the Rams defense pays huge dividends as he catches a 13 and 17-yard touchdown in the second quarter to extend the lead to 24-3 at halftime.
After halftime the Jaguars come out sharp, and score on a Mike Thomas end around reverse to take the lead 31-3. After this score the Jaguars pull out MJD and Mike Sims-Walker and other veteran presences, and Mike Thomas continues with a solid second half. He catches his first touchdown to make the score 38-3.
Jacksonville tacks on a field goal, and lets up a Stephen Jackson touchdown to go into the bye week 4-2 and feeling really good about themselves.
Jacksonville at Tennessee:
The Jaguars enter Tennessee coming of the bye week. The Jaguars are rested and ready to play as the jump out to a early 7-3 lead.
The Titans however, remeber the thrashing that the Jaguars gave them in week four. And they are inspired to end the Jaguars streak of 30 point games.
The Jaguars lead at halftime 14-10, but see the Titans storm back to take the lead 24-14 on two second half touchdowns by Chris Johnson.
The Jaguars score on a late touchdown by MIke Sims-Walker with four minutes to go. After stopping the Titans the Jaguars get the ball back with two minutes to go and drive to the 34-yard line when Garrard is stripped by the Titans defense, and the Titans recover to seal the win.
Kansas City at Jacksonville:
Derek Cox has his coming-out party in the Jaguars rebound game against the Chiefs. On the first possesion of the game, Derek intercepts a Matt Cassel pass and returns it for a touchdown.
The Jaguars roll from there as the defense posts their first shutout of the year. The Jaguars put up 38 points as Maurice Jones Drew rushes for 127 yards and three touchdowns.
The defense is most impressive though, forcing four tunovers, three interceptions and one forced fumble, and hold Matt Cassel to only 67 yards passing on the game.
The Jaguars are 5-3 heading into a huge game agasint the Jets.
Jacksonville at New York Jets
In possibly the second biggest game of the Jaguars season, the Jaguars face a tough, stout Jets team.
Although many people doubt the Jaguars chances, the Jaguars make their big statement game of the year as they jump out to a seven-point lead early after a long 10-play drive for a touchdown on the opening drive.
Yet the biggest change in the Jaguars is the defense. The Jaguars defense continues its dominance against the Jets in the first half as they lead 14-6 at half, after Maruice Jones-Drew rushes for his second touchdown.
After a mainly defensive game, the Jets tie the game with 2:20 to go on a Mark Sanchez touchdown pass to Dustin Keller. The two point conversion is no good at first, but a defensive holding penalty gives the Jets a second chance; which they succesfully complete.
And for the third time in the season the Jaguars have a chance to win the game on an end of the game drive.
After throwing incoplete on first and second down, David Garrard finds Marcedes Lewis around the first down marker at the 50-yard line. Kerry Rhodes misses the tackle and Marcedes Lewis rumbles down the field at the 45-yard line. On the very next play, with 33 seconds left, Maurice Jones-Drew takes a screen pass down to the 33-yard line.
One chance to pull off an upset the Jaguars Josh Scobee lines up for the field go to win the game. And to the dismay of Jets fans, he drills it.
Buffalo at Jacskonville
After a huge win against the Jets the Jaguars ride the momentum into a game against Buffalo.
The blackouts long behind the Jaguars, a crazy Jacksonville Muncipal stadium cheers the Jaguars to another win.
Mike Sims-Walker establishes himself as the top reciever in the game, as Terrell Owens has another low catch game.
Sims-Walker on the other hand, has a career game catching 14 passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns.
The Jaguars on the other hand win easily, crushing the Bills 31-17 and improve to 7-3 and in firm control of their playoff destiny.
Jacksonville at San Fransico
In a battle of two very similar teams, the Jaguars and 49ers, the two surprise teams of the year, battle it out in an epic duel to the death.
The game begins with two rushing touchdowns, one by Rashad Jennings and Frank Gore and the score is even at 10 coming into the half.
On the opening kickoff of the second half, Mike Thomas makes his second huge impact of the season, returning the kick 97 yards for a score.
But in the fourth quarter Shaun Hill finds Vernon Davis in the end zone to tie the game at 17.
The Jaguars add on a field goal to take the lead 20-17 off of a nice long drive that stalls at the 13-yard line. Instead of going for it on 4th-and-1, the Jaguars kick the field goal.
After failing to run out the clock, the 49ers get the ball back, and march into field goal range with 25 seconds left. Yet the 49ers run a play action fake and Michael Crabtree does to Jacksonville what he did to the Texas Longhorns.
The Jaguars drop a tough loss and fall to the 49ers.
The Jaguars end the stretch of games with a 7-4 record. They are in the playoff race, and should even be competing for the divison crown. But with a very tough stretch of games ahead, the Jaguars need to keep up the high powered offense and solid defensive play in order to reach the playoffs.
Stay tuned for part two, and be sure to check out a more in depth analysis of each indvidual game before each week.