Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars: What Will We See?
As the first game of the "Real" season approaches, what can we expect to see on Sunday in Jacksonville?
Yes, a lot of whatever those two are supposed to be in this picture. But I hope we see some very good football as well.
But since it is the first game and there are a lot of changes from each team's final 2009 roster, it will be an eye-opening experience for fans of both sidelines.
I just hope whatever we see on the field looks better than these two fans.
1. Jacksonville Offense vs. Denver Defense
Maurice Jones-Drew will be the focal point of the Jags' offense and of the Denver defense. On a team with not many household names, MJD will be the leading force and will be called on early and often.
He is a Pro Bowl player who led the team last year with 1,391 yards on 312 carries and 15 TDs. He is also a threat out of the backfield as a receiver and shares return duties when he gets bored.
This will be a great first test for the revamped Denver Front Seven to see if they can control the line of scrimmage and the JAX running game. And as a 5'7" 207# fireplug who goes at 150% all the time, this will be a defining point in Denver's defensive development.
The rest of the Jags offense is mostly a game of possession passing, minimize mistakes and see what MJD can do. They have a very good TE in Marcedes Lewis, a possession-type receiver out of UCLA and is a big target as well as a huge blocking factor at 6'6" and 275#.
My Assessment: Jones-Drew will get his 100+ yards and probably score a TD on the ground but will not break any run for more than 15 yards.
David Garrard will be efficient but will get hurried and sacked a few times due to some weakness in the offensive line. And he will get picked off and will have no TDs.
2. Denver Offense vs. Jacksonville Defense
We will see a lot of this on Sunday as Kyle Orton and his merry band of WRs including Jabar Gaffney, Brandon Lloyd and Eric Decker will go to work on the Jacksonville defensive backfield.
They have a new set of Safeties after cutting Gerald Alexander and also traded Reggie Nelson, a starter much of his career. In their place are Sean Considine and Gerald Smith, both known more for their tackling prowess than coverage.
The CB position is stronger with Rasheen Mathis and Derek Cox starting, both are quality athletes and both being 6'1", will match up well with the Broncos WRs.
The Front Seven are all good, tough and disciplined players but I don't see them getting a lot of pressure on Orton, especially if the Broncos are able to establish a half-way decent running game to keep the pass rush honest.
My Assessment: With Knowshon Moreno looking to get some playing time and Ryan Clady back, the Denver offense should stand up well to the Jag's defense.
I see Denver scoring 1 on the ground and 1 through the air, with Decker having a great first game.
3. Special Teams
We may see more of this combination on the field than we may want, but it will result in some points on the board.
Matt Prater will show his ability to kick true and long on his FGs, especially when the Denver offense bogs down inside the redzone a few times more than Josh (and us fans) would like.
We will also see Colquitt booming some high punts and a lot better coverage that will keep JAX in poor field position much of the game.
In addition, we will see rookie Perrish Cox have a nice day on returns, racking up over 85 yards in 3 returns.
My Assessment: Denver will see 3 FGs out of Mr. Prater and a possible return for a TD out of Cox.
The Jaguars will not be so productive, with a dropped punt and poor field position except on one kick-off.
4. Coaches Coaching
If Jack Del Rio is yelling we will see a lot of this, if he is laughing, not so much.
I predict that Del Rio is one of the coaches in the hot seat. A non-winning season may be the end of his reign as a head coach after eight years and also may be the end of the Jaguars' franchise in Jacksonville.
Del Rio is known as a fiery coach and can fire up a team, to a point. But if the talent isn't there, it makes it difficult. But as a former defensive player, I would expect more out of their defense.
On the Denver side, Josh McDaniels is entering his second year as Boy Genius (?) Head Coach in Denver. He has made some very visible mistakes but has made some good moves as well.
His offensive expertise is well-documented from his stint as NE's QB coach and later Offensive Coordinator. But he got his start working on the defensive side of the ball.
My assessment: I predict McDaniels will win the coaching contest in this game with his intricate offensive scheme and Orton's being the "coach on the field".
5. Lots and Lots Of These
With Tim Tebow being a hometown Jacksonville and Gator U boy, his jersey may outshine the Jag jerseys 3-1.
Tebow was predicted to be the Jaguar franchise savior if only he had lasted into the late second or third round.
But now he is in Bronco Blue and will sign more autographs than any Jag player before and after this game, whether he plays a single down or not.
This is a pleasant reminder why NFL teams have cheerleaders.
What I Wish We Wouldn't See: This
Remind me why NFL teams have mascots?
7. And Finally... This
Sorry to rain on your parade, Jaguar fans, but this is just the way the soggy cookie crumbles.
The Broncos leave Florida Sunday afternoon with a 1 - 0 record, compliments of a final score of:
Denver 23 - Jacksonville 10