Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
HOUSTON -- Keenan McCardell follows the two teams playing tonight closely. He lives in Houston. And while he also played for the Browns, Bucs, Chargers and Redskins, he said he still thinks of Jacksonville as his team.
I chatted with him after he was part of ESPN Monday Night Football's Chalk Talk Luncheon Series.
He said he thinks the Texans are close to contending for a playoff spot, but that they are asking for a lot of patience.
"I know you build through the draft, I know that's how you build a team strong," he said. "But I think they need a couple key veterans that are impact veterans that are going to make them better. In crucial situations, veterans tend to make the right decisions. Young guys, you don't know which way it's going to go. But I think they are moving in the right direction. On defense, they have to be able to stop the pass, I think their secondary has been a little shaky."
He thinks they need a safety and a cornerback, but likes the idea of an impoved pass rush helping the back end too.
As for the Jaguars, he said he thought the team may have underestimated Marcus Stroud before dealing him to Buffalo in the offseason.
"I think losing Marcus from John [Henderson] was tough," he said. "You've got one of the best D-tackle tandems, I don't think you should have removed it. Sometimes you tend to over-think some things, and they may have over-thought moving Marcus. When you can have a push it makes it a whole lot different in the backend."
Who could help boost either team to the next level?
"Both sides have to make a big jump, they've got to make a splash in free agency," he said.
Well, the Titans will do what they can to hold on to defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who's on track to meet several incentives, any one of which will prevent the Titans from designating him as their franchise player a second year in a row.
Tennessee will do what it can to keep him. They can't start negotiations until after the regular season finale and some think they were close enough to a deal last summer that things will get pieced together. I think it may prove to be easy for him to decide to wait and see what the market has to offer. If that's the case, McCardell thinks two teams that have faced him twice a year should be among his suitors and if they could lure him could improve themselves and weaken a team they are chasing.
"You've got to be a blind GM not to take Haynesworth if he jumps into the free agency market," McCardell said. "Here's a guy that dominates the front by himself, let alone team him with his old teammate [from UT, Henderson], team him with Mario Williams. Think about it. It's one of those things where they've got to make a splash. Why not? The money is there for them to do it, both sides."
McCardell likes the Jags tonight by three points, he said, because of their experience in the Monday Night Football spotlight. He fears the Texans will come out with too much energy.