Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Previewing the Jaguars' second half
By Michael DiRocco
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars begin the second half of the 2013 season Sunday still in search of their first victory.
Since the schedule is considerably easier than it was in the first half, the Jaguars have a much better chance of avoiding becoming just the second team in NFL history to go 0-16. Or do they?
Here's a look at the remaining games:
At Tennessee (Nov. 10): The coaching staff, scouting staff and management had a huge meeting last week to evaluate every player on the team. The coaching staff also evaluated schemes, personnel groupings and strategy. With all that information, they should be able to put together a game plan that takes advantages of the few strengths they do have. The defense has regressed the past two games, struggles to stop the run and can't get off the field on third down. The Titans' offense isn't explosive, but it is efficient. Running back Chris Johnson should have a pretty big day against a team that's giving up 161.8 yards per game on the ground.
Arizona (Nov. 17): The Cardinals have one of the NFL's worst offenses (29th overall), which would be a good matchup for a Jaguars offense that struggles to run the ball (66.0 yards per game). Now that the Jaguars have finally scored a touchdown in a "home" game, maybe that could open the door for the team to score a TD at EverBank Field.
At Houston (Nov. 24): The Texans are somewhat of a mess, as high expectations have disintegrated during a six-game losing streak. Even though he has looked solid, Case Keenum is still a first-year player. Arian Foster is banged up, too. That's as good a scenario as the Jaguars could hope for in Houston.
At Cleveland (Dec. 1): This is a game many probably circled as a victory when the schedule came out, but the Browns just manhandled the Baltimore Ravens last week. They have the league's No. 4 overall defense and rank in the top 10 in rush and pass defense. That's not a good matchup for an offense that struggles to run the ball and is ineffective in the red zone (five TDs on 20 trips).
Houston (Dec. 5): The schedule certainly helps the Jaguars here. The Texans play host to New England the Sunday before this Thursday night game. The Patriots shredded a good Houston team twice last season, so what will they do to this year's Texans? It could be a demoralized team coming into EverBank Field.
Buffalo (Dec. 15): Quarterback EJ Manuel is scheduled to return from a knee injury this weekend, and the rookie from Florida State has been all over the place. He delivered a game-winning drive against Carolina but has also made confusing throws. Which guy shows up?
Tennessee (Dec. 22): This could be the game in which we see a lot more of some young players -- Ricky Stanzi, perhaps? -- if the Jaguars have already secured a victory.
At Indianapolis (Dec. 29): What if the Colts can't improve or hurt their playoff seed based on the outcome of this game? Does Chuck Pagano play Andrew Luck and other starters for a quarter, a half, or not at all? If the Jaguars are 0-15 entering this game, does that factor into his decision? It could be the biggest game of the season for the Jaguars.