Titans-Jaguars Monday Night Football: Live Reaction To MNF's Biggest Stories
I'm Jack Harver, Bleacher Report's Featured Columnist for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and I'll be taking an incisive look at what's happening in tonight's game.
If you're watching the game live, I'll try to season what you're seeing with thoughtful analysis. If I'm your go-to source for updates, I'll deliver the goods with the most important events from the opening warm-ups to the final whistle.
Neither of these teams lack motivation to give this game their all. Should be a good one.
Long after the Monday Night Football clash between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans had been decided, Tennessee's Chris Johnson was still on the field grinding out yards.
Despite the Titans' insurmountable 23-3 lead, coach Jeff Fisher went with his star running back instead of understudy Javon Ringer as Tennessee looked to kill clock and leave Jacksonville with the win.
For Johnson's fantasy owners, that decision paid off when he broke an off-tackle run outside and down the sideline for a 35-yard touchdown. Having managed 96 yards and no scores on his first 27 touches, Johnson finished the night with 111 yards rushing, 20 yards receiving, and his seventh touchdown this year after that last run.
There's no love lost between Fisher and the Jaguars. After beating Jacksonville three times in the 1999 season, including a win on the road in the conference championship game, Fisher referred to the River City as his team's "home away from home."
In running the final score up to 30-3, he just wore out his welcome that much more.
The way the Jacksonville Jaguars have played tonight against the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football, outside observers might be tempted to argue that they need a new direction as an organization.
Considering Jacksonville's past experiences with the national media over proposed moves to London and Los Angeles, a few writers will put a premature two and two together with the Jaguars and Bill Parcells— who, per ESPN's Adam Schefter on Twitter, has left the Miami Dolphins.
"Miami knew this move was coming," Schefter commented, "just not this soon."
But over the past two offseasons, Jacksonville's been under the direction of Gene Smith, the first official "general manager" in franchise history.
In two drafts, Smith's list of starters has amounted to an impressive haul: Eugene Monroe, Eben Britton, Terrance Knighton, Derek Cox, Mike Thomas, and Tyson Alualu have all won significant roles on the Jaguars' offense and defense.
Where Parcells brought his hard-nosed football philosophy to big-market teams with deep pockets, Smith's nose for football players in obscure places seems a better fit for cash-strapped Jacksonville.
Most fantasy football owners watching the Monday Night Football showdown between the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars were depending on Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew.
Still, some in two-QB leagues might have been looking out for Vince Young and David Garrard, too.
After the teams returned from the locker rooms at EverBank Field for the second half, ESPN reported that both Young and Garrard were unlikely to return. Young could take snaps from the shotgun if needed, but Garrard's injury had been confirmed as a concussion.
In their places, backups Kerry Collins and Trent Edwards stepped in to take control in a game Tennessee led, 17-0.
It's worth noting that the Titans went to a run-heavy game plan once Young left, with Collins handing off to Johnson on three of four plays on a short field goal drive.
Outside of those owners who started Tennessee's Bo Scaife (all three of you) and Kenny Britt or the Titans' defense, it's been slim pickings for fantasy football tonight.
Trent Edwards' lone drive for the Jaguars on Monday Night Football is a pretty small sample size, but the returns on that waiver claim have been pretty good for Jacksonville thus far.
Taking the reins of the Jaguars' offense with just over two minutes left before halftime, Edwards threw for 55 yards on 6-of-9 passing and ran for a first down as he marched Jacksonville toward the end zone. Tight end Marcedes Lewis turned the ball over inside the Titans' 20-yard line on a fumble, killing the Jaguars' chance to score.
Before Edwards entered, Jacksonville had been utterly ineffective on offense, managing just 72 total yards with David Garrard under center.
Numbers aside, Edwards made quicker decisions in his two minutes of action than Garrard has made all season. His throws downfield were in windows where the Jaguars' receivers had flashed open, and he only checked down once to Deji Karim out of the backfield.
It's too early to say definitively, but Jacksonville might not need a rookie to replace Garrard as a better downfield passer right away. If Edwards keeps this play up, he'll do well enough in the meantime.
Those clamoring for a new quarterback in Jacksonville after David Garrard's poor performance early tonight probably weren't expecting one so soon.
The Jaguars pulled Garrard in the second quarter on Monday Night Football, inserting recently-acquired Trent Edwards. Garrard took a hard hit while throwing on third down with seven minutes left before halftime.
Earlier in the game, Tennessee's Vince Young gave way to backup Kerry Collins due to a leg injury. With Edwards in for Garrard, both teams' backup quarterbacks have taken over.
Before leaving, Garrard had thrown for 49 yards and an interception on 7-of-12 passing. After taking the field, Edwards completed three of his first four passes for 34 yards as Jacksonville drove downfield just before halftime.
A promising third-round pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2007, Edwards fell out of favor with Chan Gailey, the Bills' new head coach, after two unimpressive starts to begin this season. Days after his release, the Jaguars brought him in with a waiver claim.
Through two quarters against the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football, David Garrard has made two plays to underscore the Jacksonville Jaguars' need for a quarterback in the 2011 draft.
In the first quarter, Garrard forced Tiquan Underwood into an offensive pass interference penalty deep downfield. Underwood had two steps on his marker, but Garrard's underthrown long ball forced the speedy second-year receiver from Rutgers to tangle with Tennessee's Cortland Finnegan.
Then, in the second quarter, Garrard lobbed a throw over the middle that landed in the waiting arms of safety Michael Griffin among a mass of Titans defenders.
Searching through early mock-ups of the 2011 NFL Draft shows an overwhelming trend toward the Jaguars picking one of several strong-armed college seniors. Some projections put them high enough to snag Stanford's Andrew Luck or Washington's Jake Locker.
There's the argument that a rookie quarterback wouldn't be a good decision-maker right away. Then again, Garrard's showing neither the arm nor the discretion to be a better option thus far tonight.
The news ticker on ESPN's production of Monday Night Football has scrolled with news tonight about the alleged "helmet-to-helmet" hit by Atlanta's Dunta Robinson on Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson.
In a word, "Huh?"
Robinson's hit, though vicious, was as clean as contact can be despite leaving him and Jackson lying motionless on the turf. He led with his forearms and buried his helmet in Jackson's chest pads as the speedy receiver's head flopped backward faster than his body.
True, it resulted in a severe concussion and memory loss for Jackson—an unsettling consequence in the eyes of most onlookers and analysts. There's an argument to be made that defenders, despite the protection afforded them by the helmet, should be taught to keep their heads out of the tackle altogether.
Still, Robinson's knock shouldn't be lumped in with the thuggish headbutt thrown by New England's Brandon Meriweather on Sunday. One was the action of a physical football player, the other that of an unruly punk.
Such loose usage of the "helmet-to-helmet" designation by the media is one sign that this culture won't be able to police players' aggression without going too far and making football too soft.
Minutes after the Tennessee Titans' game-opening score against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday Night Football, Vince Young limped off to the sideline with an apparent leg injury.
Pawing at the football after a fumbled exchange with center Eugene Amano, Young was taken down hard by Jacksonville's Daryl Smith and got lost beneath the ensuing pile-up. His left knee bent awkwardly in the grasp of Terrance Knighton as he fell.
On the drive, the Jaguars' defensive linemen had made up for their performance on Tennessee's first drive by pressuring Young relentlessly. His only pass had been an incompletion before the fumbled snap and injury.
Replays of the hit and pile-up underscored the gruesome, unnatural bend in Young's leg. The Titans have put a brace on the injured knee, and Young's body language after testing it out suggested that he might return to the game.
Backup Kerry Collins completed his first pass after entering the game for Tennessee.
The Tennessee Titans opened the scoring against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday Night Football when Vince Young threw a touchdown to Kenny Britt to cap a two-minute drive.
Young attempted four passes on the drive, completing three for 61 yards. He only felt pressure on his first attempt, an incompletion that sailed over Nate Washington's head down the right sideline.
Tennessee's offensive line, one of the NFL's more-underrated units, clamped down on Jacksonville's defensive line after that. Former All-Pro left tackle Michael Roos kept Aaron Kampman quiet on Young's blind side, and David Stewart handled Derrick Harvey easily on the other end.
In 2009, the Jaguars managed only 14 sacks—less than one per game. This year, they already have nine after just five games.
Considering the ease with which Vince Young dissected their loose pass defense on that touchdown drive, Jacksonville's front four will have to show that improvement tonight. They've got to disrupt that comfortable pocket for the Jaguars to stand a chance on defense.
Jon Gruden, one of ESPN's Monday Night Football color commentators and a former head coach, echoed the common refrain about Tennessee's Vince Young in his preview tonight: "He just wins games."
Winning percentages and the football-watching public's fixation with quarterbacks aside, it's a statement that fits both Young and Jacksonville's David Garrard to a tee—by implication, at least.
No one describes Peyton Manning or Drew Brees as quarterbacks who "just win games," even though each has won more and bigger games than Young, because it's unnecessary. Manning has his self-described "laser-rocket arm" and Brees has the NFL's highest completion percentage through six games.
Young and Garrard, on the other hand, are at their best when they get out of their offenses' way. It's too much to hope that the culture will learn to describe them as players who "just don't lose games," but that's what the one who "wins" tonight will have done.
Much of ESPN's Monday Night Football pregame coverage has been devoted to the debate over helmet-to-helmet hits that has been raging in NFL circles after Sunday.
Per NFL.com, the league is considering suspending players who lead with their helmets in the future.
The hit by New England's Brandon Meriweather on Baltimore's Todd Heap Sunday is the epitome of the type of action that should be targeted by these suspensions. Arms tucked into his chest, Meriweather smashed his helmet into Heap's with reckless abandon.
Referees have erred on the side of sensitivity where quarterbacks are concerned, throwing flags for the slightest nick on the facemask from a defender's chinstrap. One would hope that such incidental contact won't get painted with the same brush as Meriweather's headhunting.
Judging from the officious, bureaucratic punishments handed down by the league in the past, that's probably too much to ask for. Eliminating cheap-shot artistry should be the goal in every sport, at every level, but suspensions for helmet-to-helmet contact are likely just another step toward flag football in pads.
The Jacksonville Jaguars lost a weapon in practice this week.
Per NFL.com, they've decided to hold CB Derek Cox out of tonight's game against the Tennessee Titans. Cox had reclaimed his starting job opposite Rashean Mathis last week after David Jones got beaten deep by Buffalo's Lee Evans, but injured his hamstring during the week.
Jones will get the nod tonight, and he'll have his hands full. Tennessee's Kenny Britt and Nate Washington aren't as seasoned as Evans, but Britt's size and Washington's speed are more than enough to challenge Jacksonville's beatable secondary.
Behind Jones, neither Tyron Brackenridge nor Don Carey offers much upside if pressed into a starting role. Barring a surprise performance, Vince Young and the Titans' receivers are looking like great fantasy plays tonight.