Ok, so, certainly the run game being successful is going to be a key to winning in almost every game the Jaguars play this season, but I believe that in this game that will be even more so the case for a couple of reasons.
For starters, David Garrard is coming off of a truly awful performance last week against San Diego. He completed 15 of 23 passing and threw four interceptions with his lone touchdown coming after he was benched and the sent back on the field to replace an apparently injured Luke McCown, who was doing noticeably better in his short time on the field than Garrard had been.
If the run game gets off to a good start it will take a lot of pressure off of Garrard and allow him to slowly rebuild confidence. Garrard was quoted as saying "It's a bad day at the office; you just want to walk away and let that one go.". If the running game is dominant on Sunday, he'll be able to do exactly that: let last week go.
Another reason it's particularly crucial to establish the run early is that there's a good chance that Kevin Kolb will be starting at quarterback on Sunday. We saw Kolb against the first team defense during the pre-season and he played very well in his time on the field, which means that the Jaguars don't want to put any more pressure on their defense than they have to seeing as it's probably still reeling from last weekend. If the Jags can keep the ball and run down the clock they won't end up trying to play shootout football again.
The third, and probably most crucial, reason that the Jags need to run the ball well on Sunday is that even if Kolb starts, Vick played way too well last week to never be on the field. If the Eagles get ahead on the scoreboard we can expect to see wildcat formations with Vick at the helm, and the potential exists for the defense to get beat deep not knowing whether to defend him on the ground or through the air.
If the Jags stay even or ahead on the scoreboard by running the ball efficiently then the Eagles will probably stick with Kolb and the passing game. We do not want to allow Michael Vick to be productive early, because he's the sort of player who thrives on success. If we play conservative and run the ball hard, we'll be able to avoid putting ourselves in situations where we can get beat by Vick's unique dual threat style of play.
As a side note, everyone who is going to tell me that Andy Reid said Kolb is undoubtedly the man at quarterback needs to know this: No matter who you decide to go with, every good NFL fan and coach knows that you want your best players on the field. Right now, Vick is a better player than Kolb. Do I think Kolb will get the start Sunday? Probably, based on what Andy Reid said about the quarterback controversy. Does that mean we won't see Vick at all? Definitely not.
In any case, it will most definitely be of utmost importance to establish the run in this game for those reasons, and hopefully we'll be able to come out and do it.
Signing off from Jacksonville.
Auguste Archer ~ 10:33 EST
Apparently Vick is going to start Sunday... So actually, that probably further validates my point(s).
Auguste Archer ~ 12:40 AM EST