Jacksonville Jaguars: Russell Wilson

ESPN's Mel Kiper said he would be surprised if the Jacksonville Jaguars took quarterback Johnny Manziel with the No. 3 pick on Thursday night.

But he also believes Jacksonville would be the best fit for the former Texas A&M standout.

His reasoning: The presence of a veteran quarterback, the fact that Manziel can fit any system and the boost in visibility the franchise would get. It's Kiper's second reason that's the most intriguing. Here's what he wrote:
Secondly, the whole "system fit" concept is a little overstated with Manziel. I hear people say you want a system that emphasizes movement, and allows Manziel to freelance. But Manziel's improvisational skills are going to manifest within any system. When current Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley was in Seattle, he saw Russell Wilson move around a lot, but a lot of Wilson's movement came outside the design of the play. Moreover, no QB in this draft was more accurate from the pocket than Manziel was last year at Texas A&M. Manziel is going to improvise, but the system doesn't have to be the genesis of that.
Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:

The Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran writes that Tanard Jackson's suspension could be a clue for what to expect regarding Justin Blackmon. He also reacts to Ourlads Scouting's prediction of seven Jaguars picks.

Todd McShay has flip-flopped on which player he expects the Jaguars to take in his sixth mock draft .
Which player should the Jacksonville Jaguars take with the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft? That's a question that general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley are trying to answer before the first round on May 8. Not that they're asking, but I'm here to offer some help. Every day until the first round I'll argue for a certain player. We're going to go with the caveat that each of the players are available when the Jaguars make their selection.

We'll start with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Tuesday will be linebacker Khalil Mack.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The best argument for the Jaguars to draft defensive end Clowney came on Feb. 2, 2014.

Russell Wilson played well. Marshawn Lynch was effective. Percy Harvin delivered the knockout blow. But the reason the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl was its pass rush. They sacked Peyton Manning only once but they were in his face all day. They disrupted the rhythm of a record-setting offense and the Denver Broncos could only manage eight points.

If quarterback is the most important building block, then finding someone who can disrupt the quarterback is 1A. There is no better pass-rusher in the draft than Clowney.

There may not have been a better pass rusher in any of the past 10-15 drafts, either.

Clowney is 6-foot-5, 266 pounds and he ran an official 4.53 second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. More impressive was the fact that he covered the first 10 yards in 1.56 seconds. That's a faster burst than running backs Montee Ball and Zac Stacy had in 2013.

It's another example of Clowney's explosiveness and athleticism, which is off the charts for someone of his size. He's got long arms (83-inch wingspan) and his vertical jump of 37 inches was a half-inch higher than Mike Evans and more than 3 inches higher than Sammy Watkins. So you can make the argument that he's the best pure athlete in the draft regardless of position.

Forget the questions about Clowney's work ethic. We, the media, are more to blame for that criticism. In the days after the 2012 college football season ended, there were countless columns and stories and experts saying that Clowney should sit out the 2013 season so he wouldn't risk his status as the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft. That went on for months. Clowney only turned 21 in February. How many 20-year-olds would not have been impacted by reading that he was potentially jeopardizing millions of dollars by playing -- especially after seeing South Carolina teammate Marcus Lattimore rip up his knee twice and end up becoming a fourth-round pick?

Clowney has the potential to be a double-digit sack guy immediately and it may only take him a year or two to become one of the league's best pass-rushers.

And if he doesn't work hard consistently? Well, the Jaguars have already proved they can fix that. Second-year defensive end Andre Branch looked like a bust because of the same issue, but Bradley, defensive line coach Todd Wash, and defensive coordinator Bob Babich worked with him and got him to give consistent effort. The result was five of his six sacks last in the last seven games.

The Jaguars certainly need to get more pressure on the quarterback. They've been last in sacks in each of the past two seasons (20 in 2012 and 31 in 2013) and haven't had a player with double digit sacks since Bobby McCray had 10 in 2006.

Another reason to take Clowney: Andrew Luck. To win the AFC South the Jaguars are going to have to beat the Indianapolis Colts. Sending one of the league's top pass-rushers after him twice a year would certainly make things tough for Luck.

Ask Manning.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan created a bit of a stir among fans when he said it’s no mystery that the team would draft a quarterback in May -- and possibly even two.

Notably absent from his comments, however, was the phrase "in the first round."

The Jaguars have the No. 3 overall selection and will have a shot at Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles. For months I’ve been on the Bridgewater bandwagon. I believe he’s the most polished, NFL-ready quarterback in the draft. Manziel wouldn’t be a bad option either because he’s such a dynamic player and will certainly make the Jaguars instantly relevant nationally.

The Jaguars, though, should pass on a quarterback with their first-round pick. They should do the same in the second round, too.

[+] EnlargeJadeveon Clowney, Dak Prescott
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesUsing the No. 3 overall pick on an elite defender like South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, 7, could appeal to Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley.
That certainly won’t be a popular opinion among fans, who desperately want the team to move on from Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. But it’s the best decision for general manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley as they continue their rebuild of the franchise. Fix and bolster the defense first, especially the pass rush and the secondary, then make quarterback a priority.

Two reasons:

Defense is more important to winning championships than most people realize.

Young, inexperienced quarterbacks, provided they have the pieces in place around them, can make it to and win Super Bowls.

Seattle won the Super Bowl last Sunday because of its stifling defense, which led the NFL in yards allowed per game, passing yards allowed and scoring, and finished tied for seventh in rushing yards allowed. The Seahawks absolutely throttled Denver’s record-setting offense and badgered Denver quarterback Peyton Manning in a 43-8 victory.

But don’t believe that what the Seahawks did signifies a changing philosophy or the start of a new trend in the NFL in which defense -- and not elite quarterbacks -- win championships. Defense has been winning Super Bowls for years, but people overlook that because of the elite quarterbacks.

Six of the past 10 Super Bowl winners had a defense that ranked in the top 11 in the NFL in three of the four major statistical categories (total defense, rush defense, pass defense and scoring defense): Seattle, Green Bay (2011), Pittsburgh (2009, 2006), New York Giants (2008), and New England (2005). Each of those teams -- with the exception of the Seahawks because it’s too early to tell how good Russell Wilson will be -- also had elite quarterbacks.

The Green Bay team that thrived on Aaron Rodgers' right arm? The Packers' defense ranked second in scoring and fifth in passing and total defense. Pittsburgh’s 2009 Super Bowl title team led the league in total defense, pass defense and scoring defense.

The last time New England won the Super Bowl was 2005. That was Tom Brady's third title in four years, but the Patriots' defense was one of the league’s best that season, ranking second in scoring, sixth in rushing and ninth in total defense.

The four other Super Bowl champs of the past decade won because of their quarterbacks (Baltimore in 2013, New York Giants in 2012, New Orleans in 2010 and Indianapolis in 2007), but the Giants wouldn't have won without their pass rush, and the Saints might not have won without cornerback Tracy Porter's fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown.

The Jaguars’ defense has some solid building blocks -- tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, linebacker Paul Posluszny, safety Johnathan Cyprien and cornerback Dwayne Gratz -- but Caldwell and Bradley need to bolster the pass rush, get more depth on the defensive line and add help at outside linebacker. They should address those areas in the first two rounds, especially if they can nab defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 3 pick.

Bradley is surely in favor of taking that approach. It’s the way Seattle did it during his four years as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator, and we just saw how well it worked. The team was built around its defense, and everything was in place for a Super Bowl run once Wilson was added to the mix.

Wilson is clearly not an elite quarterback right now. He wasn’t even in the Seahawks’ plans two years ago when they drafted him in the third round, because Pete Carroll had traded for Matt Flynn in the offseason and gave Flynn the starting job. Wilson beat out Flynn and has played solid but not spectacular football, winning a Super Bowl ring in his second season.

More proof that young quarterbacks aren’t a hindrance to success: Colin Kaepernick led San Francisco to the Super Bowl in his second season in the league; Andrew Luck has led Indianapolis to the playoffs in his first two seasons; Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to the AFC Championship Game as a rookie; and Brady won a Super Bowl in his first season as a starter, which was his second season in the NFL.

Taking a quarterback with the No. 3 pick won’t guarantee that the Jaguars will be ready for a playoff run in 2014 or 2015, especially if, as some inside the building believe, none of the quarterbacks available in this draft are ready to contribute right away. There is no guarantee that Bridgewater, Manziel or Bortles will turn out to be a better quarterback than Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger or Jimmy Garoppolo, anyway, and those latter three are players the Jaguars could land in the third round or later.

The Jaguars need immediate impact players, which is why taking Clowney or another elite pass-rusher in the first two rounds is the better -- albeit not popular -- option.
The Jaguars have had 74 draft picks over the past 10 years, yet have selected a quarterback just once. All but two of the remaining NFL teams have selected at least three quarterbacks over that span.

The Jaguars' reluctance to address the most important position on the field is a trend that has to change this year, writes Florida Times-Union columnist Gene Frenette. The Jaguars have to draft one -- and maybe even two -- quarterbacks this May.

Frenette writes that it's nearly impossible to conceive a scenario in which the Jaguars bypass a quarterback in the first two rounds. "They can't stick to a quarterback draft strategy that has been stubborn, if not idiotic, for way too long."

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our daily Reading the Coverage feature:

The T-U's Hays Carlyon writes that linebacker Paul Posluszny enjoyed his first Pro Bowl experience and is eager to return. Here's more from Posluszny from John Oehser of Jaguars.com.

The T-U's Ryan O'Halloran writes that the price to retain pass-rusher Michael Bennett is rising and it may become too much for Seattle, which has to have cap room to re-sign Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman -- all of whom are key players still on their rookie contracts. The Jaguars should take a long look at Bennett, O'Halloran writes.

Here's my story on former Auburn defensive end Dee Ford, who was the South MVP of the Senior Bowl. His goal is to be the next Lawrence Taylor.

Most of the 320 players in an NFL Nation confidential survey said they'd play in the Super Bowl with a concussion. Nine of the 10 Jaguars players surveyed said the same thing.

Jacksonville Jaguars mailbag

January, 9, 2014
Jan 9
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Got questions about the Jaguars? I’ll try to answer a representative selection of them every Thursday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.
 

Jacksonville Jaguars mailbag

December, 19, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars need a quarterback.

They also need a pass-rushing defensive end or outside linebacker.

The question in May's draft will be which one they should grab first.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Crystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY SportsIf you believe you can build around a quarterback such as Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, you grab him. Right?
Six weeks ago there wasn't a question the Jaguars would be taking a quarterback with their first-round draft pick. But that was when they were winless and held the No. 1 overall pick. And it was also before two of the top college quarterbacks decided they were going to return to school in 2014.

Now, things aren't so clear.

The Jaguars currently sit at No. 4 in the draft order and have two winnable games remaining, which means they could be picking in the 5-7 range. That would most likely not allow general manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley to have their pick of the quarterbacks that are available.

Depending on their draft board and what happens ahead of them (a trade?), they may not even be able to get their No. 2 choice. Would taking the pass rusher they desperately need and picking up a quarterback in the second or third round make more sense in that scenario?

This debate is going to go on for months, especially after the Jan. 15 deadline for underclassmen to declare and there's a set list of quarterbacks that will be available. Here's a quick argument for each, with the caveat that Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, UCLA's Brett Hundley, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and UCF's Blake Bortles decide to declare for the draft as most expect:

Take the QB

This isn't a secret, but the NFL is all about the quarterback. Elite teams have great quarterbacks. All you have to do is look at the teams in the hunt for the playoffs. For the most part, they all have very good quarterbacks, and the teams that don't are going to be early exits.

It's imperative the Jaguars find a franchise quarterback. While this class doesn't have the sure-fire star like Andrew Luck it is a relatively deep class, and there are several quarterbacks who have the pre-draft look of a franchise QB: Bridgewater, Manziel, Bortles, Hundley, and Fresno State's Derek Carr. Any one of those has the potential to develop into the quarterback around which the franchise can be built.

That's pretty much the golden rule of the NFL now. If you can get what you believe will be a franchise quarterback, you grab him. No questions asked. Everything else is secondary to finding that guy.

So, take the quarterback.

Take the pass rusher

Remember that line about the depth of this quarterback class? That means you should be able to find a quarterback in the second or third round. There are plenty from which to choose: Alabama's A.J. McCarron, LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Georgia's Aaron Murray, Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas and Miami's Stephen Morris, for example.

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray, Jadeveon Clowney
AP Photo/Mike StewartWith such a deep quarterback class in this year's draft, it may benefit the Jaguars to chose an elite defender first such as South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney.
Are they as highly rated as Bridgewater, Bortles or Manziel? No, but that doesn't mean they won't be better players. Colin Kaepernick was a second-round pick. So was Drew Brees. Russell Wilson was a third-round pick. Tom Brady a sixth. Tony Romo went undrafted. They seem to be doing pretty well.

The NFL is all about the quarterback, which also means finding a way to stop great QBs. You do that by pressuring them over and over again. That's why teams need elite pass rushers and the Jaguars have a chance to get one of the most gifted ones we've seen in a long time.

Remember Jadeveon Clowney? The guy people said would have been the No. 1 overall pick last year had he been able to come out? The player some experts said shouldn't even play in 2013 because he'd be risking too much? He could still be available when it's the Jaguars' turn to pick. Can't pass him up.

Or UCLA's Anthony Barr and Buffalo's Khalil Mack. All have the ability to become double-digit sack machines.

So, take the pass rusher, then the quarterback.
Ryan Fitzpatrick and Paul PoslusznyUSA Today SportsPaul Posluszny and the Jags are aiming for a season sweep of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tennessee.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Maybe Delanie Walker shouldn’t feel so bad now.

The Titans tight end said he was embarrassed after the Jaguars won 29-27 in Nashville on Nov. 10 to pick up their first victory. Since then, the Jaguars are 3-2 with victories over Houston (twice) and Cleveland. The Titans are 1-4 with a victory over Oakland.

There seems to be much more stability in Jacksonville, too, because of the uncertain status surrounding Tennessee coach Mike Munchak.

Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco and Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky break down Sunday’s matchup at EverBank Field.

DiRocco: Some Titans players were pretty vocal about being embarrassed due to becoming the first team to lose to the Jaguars. Is that something that still stings, and how have they rebounded from that loss?

Kuharsky: It definitely left a mark. They are only 1-4 since then. It kind of set a bar for how bad they can be and re-established their propensity to lose to teams that are really struggling. The Jaguars are on an upswing since that game, and the Titans are on a downward spiral. If Tennessee losses to the Jaguars again, the Titans will be in line to finish in third place in an awful division, which is well short of their goals and expectations. The Titans are a better team than they were last year. But losing closer isn’t a really big difference in the really big picture.

Let’s turn that around. How has life changed for the Jaguars since that Nov. 10 breakthrough?

DiRocco: I could go into a lot of stats that show how much better the Jaguars are playing, but that's not what's really important. The past six games have been more about the validation of the process, establishing the foundation of the franchise's rebuild, and confidence in the new regime. Coach Gus Bradley never wavered from the plan that he and general manager David Caldwell established. His message stayed the same throughout the eight-game losing streak to start the season: trust in the process, work hard, and focus on improving and not victories, and the victories will eventually come. Because that has happened, the players appear to have completely bought into what Bradley and Caldwell want to do, and there's a confidence in the locker room that the franchise is headed in the right direction.

We talked about Jake Locker the last time these teams met, but that was before he suffered a season-ending injury to his foot. How does that change the Titans' outlook on him and are they in the market for a quarterback in the offseason, too?

Kuharsky: Locker is certain to be on the 2014 Titans. His fourth year isn’t that costly and it’s guaranteed. But they can’t execute a spring option for his fifth year that would line him up for over $13 million. A lot of his fate depends on whether Munchak is back as the head coach. It’s possible they go forward with Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick and just-signed Tyler Wilson as their quarterbacks. It’s also possible they’d draft a new guy, and depending on how high of a pick he could land in competition to start. I think it’s less likely they chase a free agent like Jay Cutler if he comes free, but they have to assess all the possibilities. How can they completely commit to Locker based on his injury history?

One side effect of the Jaguars' surge is they aren’t going to be in position to draft the first quarterback taken. What’s your sense of what Bradley and Caldwell want in a quarterback and do you expect one to arrive in the first round?

DiRocco: Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said something interesting last week. He said he wants his QB to scramble around, take off running to get yards and take some chances throwing the football. To me, that sounds like a pretty accurate description of Johnny Manziel. I'm not sure how that reconciles with the ideas of his bosses. Bradley comes from Seattle, which has the mobile Russell Wilson. Caldwell comes from Atlanta, which has the considerably less mobile Matt Ryan. My sense is that Bradley and Caldwell probably lean more toward the Wilson end of the spectrum. People think that eliminates Teddy Bridgewater, but that's not the case. He's not a runner but he can run if needed. If he's around, I'd expect them to take him. If not, then I would still expect them to go quarterback. It's their most glaring need.

You mentioned Munchak's job status. What's your take on whether he will be back next season -- and should he be?

Kuharsky: He’s shepherded improvement, but his team lacks an ability to finish. He’s 0-4 in the worst division in football, 1-9 in the past two years. His teams have lost to the previously winless Jags in 2013 and the previously winless Colts in 2011. He’s 4-18 against teams with winning records when the Titans played them and 2-19 against teams that finished the season with a winning record. To me, three years is a sufficient sample size to know what you’ve got and those numbers are the most telling thing on his resume. Keep him and they deal with all the limitations connected to a lame duck coach. I don’t know what Tommy Smith, the head of the new ownership, will do. But the fan base overwhelmingly wants change, if that’s worth anything. People still pay for tickets because they’ve got investments in personal seat licenses they do not want to throw away. But a lot of people are staying home on Sundays now.

Cecil Shorts is done and Maurice Jones-Drew is uncertain. How can the Jaguars threaten on offense without their two best weapons?

DiRocco: They were able to put up 20 points and post their second-highest yardage total of the season, including a season-high 159 rushing, in last Sunday's loss to Buffalo. Running back Jordan Todman stepped up big time and ran for 109 yards (Jones-Drew cracked 100 only once in the first 13 games) and tight end Marcedes Lewis was more involved in the passing game than in previous weeks (four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown). But I'm not sure that is sustainable. Teams will certainly concentrate on stopping Lewis and make quarterback Chad Henne move the ball with three receivers who have a combined 75 career catches. Todman doesn't scare anyone, either. The Jaguars will have to be creative on offense (they've run gadget plays the past three weeks) and capitalize on every opportunity they get.

Upon Further Review: Jaguars Week 3

September, 23, 2013
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A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars' 45-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks:

First-down woes: The Jaguars continue to struggle on first down. Of the 27 first-down plays the Jaguars had against Seattle, they had negative yardage or no gain on 17 of them. The offense does not have the kind of playmakers, especially when the offensive line is struggling, to overcome that. It’s not because the Jaguars weren’t aggressive, though. Chad Henne threw 17 passes on first down, but he completed only seven. He did throw for 121 yards, but nearly half of that came on one play (a 59-yard catch-and-run by Cecil Shorts). Here’s a startling stat: Through three games, the Jaguars have 18 three-and-outs on 41 possessions (44 percent).

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Tony Overman/The OlympianSeattle free-agent defensive linemen Michael Bennett, No. 72, and Clinton McDonald are likely to get hefty contract offers this offseason.
Ineffective ground game: Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said the team will examine whether switching from a zone blocking scheme to a man or gap blocking scheme is warranted. Something has to be done to fix the paltry production. The Jaguars rushed for 51 yards against Seattle, including just 20 (on 12 carries) in the first half. Jones-Drew had just 17 yards on nine carries in the first half. He had 8 on one carry, meaning he averaged 1.1 yards on his other eight carries. The Jaguars ran more gap blocking schemes in the second half, and things were slightly better (31 yards on 12 carries), but they had to throw the ball because they were behind. The lack of production in the ground game is killing the offense, and it has been that way all season. Brad Meester, Uche Nwaneri and Will Rackley aren’t getting consistent push off the ball or enough movement to create holes or creases for the backs.

Tight end damage: Seattle tight ends Zach Miller, Luke Willson and Kellen Davis combined to catch nine passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. Up until then, the Jaguars had done a solid job of limiting the damage done by the position (five catches for 40 yards in two games). Play-action hurt the Jaguars on Sunday. For example, safety Chris Prosinski got caught looking in the backfield on Miller’s 1-yard touchdown catch because of Russell Wilson's play fake to Marshawn Lynch. Miller cut-blocked defensive end Tyson Alualu, then popped up and was wide-open in the end zone for an easy catch.

More Denard: The Jaguars tried to get Denard Robinson more work on Sunday by having him return kicks. He was solid, averaging 27.0 yards on two returns -- but he also nearly had a disaster by starting to take the ball out of the end zone but taking a knee just behind the goal line. The team is in desperate need of playmakers, so it was a good idea to try to take advantage of Robinson’s open-field ability. That might be the best way to use him because the Wildcat formation is not working. Robinson fumbled an exchange and had minus-2 yards on his other carry.
SEATTLE -- A few thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 45-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks:

What it means: This was another dismal offensive performance for the Jaguars. Granted, it came against the league’s best defense, but the Jaguars never gave themselves a chance. They turned it over three times -- including once when Chad Henne's pass bounced off center Brad Meester's helmet -- and managed just 52 yards and four first downs in the first half. The offensive line continues to be pushed around, and the receivers, other than Cecil Shorts, are not able to get separation. It is probably a little unfair to pile on the lack of production in the passing game considering Henne is throwing to guys named Allen Reisner, Clay Harbor, Ace Sanders and Stephen Burton. That’s not exactly a formidable list. Things should get a little better in the next few weeks because Marcedes Lewis (calf) should return next Sunday and Justin Blackmon will finish his four-game suspension and return in two weeks.

Stock watch: By the middle of the first quarter, the Jaguars secondary was comprised of three rookies -- safety Johnathan Cyprien, cornerback Demetrius McCray and safety Josh Evans -- after safety Dwight Lowery left the game with a head injury and did not return. That was a huge blow because he was the most experienced player in the secondary. The Seahawks took advantage by picking on McCray, a seventh-round pick forced to start because of Alan Ball's groin injury. Golden Tate and Sidney Rice combined to catch 10 passes for 187 yards, and Russell Wilson and Tarvaris Jackson combined to throw five touchdown passes. Evans got burned on one because he stood waiting for the ball instead of going to get it and Rice slid in front of him to make the catch. Cyprien did force a fumble for the second consecutive week.

Unloaded weapon: The Jaguars had hoped to get Denard Robinson more involved on offense today. He carried once for minus-2 yards and also fumbled when he tried to pull the ball out of Sanders’ stomach on a read-option play. That is an inexcusable turnover, especially since Robinson ran the read-option countless times in his career at Michigan.

What’s next: The Jaguars play host to Indianapolis and the Seahawks play at Houston next Sunday.

Jaguars fantasy breakdown: Week 3

September, 20, 2013
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Looking for some help with your fantasy football lineup? Every Friday I'll give you my opinions on which Jacksonville Jaguars to play and sit, as well as which of the opposing players might be a good play against the Jags. For more fantasy football advice, check out ESPN.com's fantasy football page.

Jaguars

QB Chad Henne: Henne threw for 241 yards and a touchdown last week, but the bulk of that came in the fourth quarter when the game was decided. That’s irrelevant in terms of fantasy football, but it’s something to keep in mind whenever playing a Jaguars quarterback. They’ll likely be in the situation of needing to throw a lot after falling behind. Verdict: Playing Seattle’s defense is a bad matchup for any quarterback. Sit him.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew: The swelling from the left ankle injury he suffered against Oakland kept him out of practice all week. Even if he’s cleared to play, just how effective can he be? Can he handle 20 carries? Expect more Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson and Justin Forsett even if Jones-Drew does play. Verdict: He’s too risky to start.

WR Cecil Shorts: He has been targeted 25 times in two games and has 11 catches for 133 yards. He is clearly the Jaguars’ top weapon in the passing game, but he’s going up against what is regarded as the league’s top secondary. The corners are big and physical, too. Verdict: It’s not a good matchup. Only play him if you need a No. 3 or 4 receiver in deeper leagues. Otherwise, sit him.

TE Marcedes Lewis: It looks like Lewis will be on the field for the first time this season and that’s good news for an offense desperate for playmakers. But will he be rusty? And how much of a difference will he really make. Verdict: Sit him for another week just to see how he does in his return.

K Josh Scobee: He has attempted just one field goal and the Jaguars attempted a two-point conversion after their only TD. Verdict: Until the offense shows some evidence of being able to consistently move the ball, Scobee needs to stay on the bench.

Defense/special teams: The Jaguars are last in the NFL in rushing defense. They're facing one of the league's top backs, who has touched the ball 50 times in two games. Still waiting for a big play in the return game. Verdict: Sit 'em.

Seahawks

QB Russell Wilson: Wilson has gotten off to slow starts in each of his first two games, but he is still completing 63.5 percent of his passes and has thrown for 462 yards. He has only tossed two TD passes, though. The Jaguars have given up the second-fewest passing yards in the NFL through the first two weeks, but part of that is because they’ve given the up the most yards rushing. Verdict: Don’t start him as your No. 1 quarterback, but he’s a viable option for your No. 2 if your league allows you to play two QBs.

RB Marshawn Lynch: Only three players have carried the ball more than Lynch (45 times). He has not yet busted off a big run, and he’s only averaging 3.1 yards per carry. The Jaguars are struggling to stop the run, though, having given up 347 yards in the first two games. Verdict: Definitely start him.

WR Doug Baldwin: Sidney Rice should be the Seahawks’ top receiver with Percy Harvin sidelined, but he has been battling knee problems for a while. Baldwin leads the team with eight catches, but seven came in the season opener. Verdict: You should have better options than Baldwin on your roster. Play him as a No. 3 receiver if you have to in deeper leagues.

WR Golden Tate: Tate is healthy and has five catches for 70 yards. How much will the Seahawks throw the ball, though? If they’re able to get a big lead and control the ball none of the receiver will get much work. Verdict: Same as Baldwin.

TE Zach Miller: He has five receptions in two games and is a reliable target, especially in the red zone. Verdict: He’s not a bad play if you missed out on the top 10 tight ends.

K Steven Hauschka: He’s a perfect 4-for-4 on field goal attempts, and he should get plenty of work. Verdict: Play him.

Defense/special teams: The Seahawks lead the NFL in total defense and passing defense, and they’re facing a Jaguars team that’s last in the NFL in total offense and scoring and is still missing its top receiver. Verdict: There isn’t a better defense to play this week.
Gus Bradley and Russell WilsonGetty ImagesWill Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, the ex-Seattle defensive coordinator, find a way to stop Seahawks QB Russell Wilson?
This is as close to a David versus Goliath matchup as you can get in the NFL, but it will take more than a slingshot for the Jacksonville Jaguars to knock over the Seattle Seahawks Sunday at CenturyLink Field. However, it marks the return to Seattle for Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, the former defensive coordinator for the Seahawks who left at the end of last season to take the Jacksonville job.

Terry Blount: Michael, no one knows the ins and outs of the Seattle defense better than Gus Bradley. He's the man who built a defense that many people consider the best in the league. Do you think his knowledge of the Seahawks' schemes and players will help the Jaguars this week?

Michael DiRocco: Bradley’s knowledge of the personnel and their strengths and weaknesses will certainly help, especially when it comes to the secondary. He also knows the best way to attack the defense and should be able to school offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch on tendencies. With that being said, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn are aware of that and will make some changes this week to counter. The bottom line is this: It doesn’t matter if the Jaguars know exactly what’s coming if they don’t have the personnel to stop it or fail to execute properly. Right now the team just doesn’t have a lot of talent, and the talent the Jaguars do have on offense is either banged up (Maurice Jones-Drew, Marcedes Lewis) or suspended (Justin Blackmon). Plus, the offensive line has struggled, giving up 11 sacks in two games. Jacksonville has scored just one touchdown in two weeks because of those issues and poor execution. I’ve always thought knowing what’s coming on any given play is overrated, anyway. Everybody knew Nebraska was going to run the option but they couldn’t stop it. Sometimes defenses played it perfectly and still got gashed for big yards. Why? The Huskers had better personnel.

Terry, Russell Wilson has had slow starts the first two weeks of the season. Is there a reason for that, and what can he or offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell do to fix it?

Blount: I think they will fix it, Michael. The main thing that has slowed Wilson down has been a slew of penalties -- false start, illegal formations, illegal procedure and holding. There have been several times in the first two games where Wilson was driving the team down the field, only to have the progress halted by penalties that backed the team up. They won’t eliminate all the holding calls, of course, but I expect to see a lot less of the careless penalties this weekend. Pete Carroll is fed up with it and made it a point of emphasis this week. But Wilson also has missed throws earlier in games that he usually makes, something I doubt will continue.

Michael, statistically speaking, this is a huge mismatch with the worst offense (Jacksonville) going against the best defense (Seattle). What could make this a close game?

DiRocco: The biggest factor will be turnovers. The Jaguars would have to get at least three, and most of them would need to be in Seahawks' territory. This offense isn’t going to be able to put together 70- or 80-yard drives against that defense, especially if Jones-Drew is limited because of his ankle injury. The Jaguars will need some short fields with which to work. And they need to capitalize on those turnovers with touchdowns. Field goals won’t get it done. If the Jaguars can get 14 or more points off turnovers, they’ll have a chance. That’s not going to be easy, though. The Seahawks have forced 25 turnovers at home since the start of the 2012 season and their plus-18 turnover margin in that span leads the NFL. That means they’ve turned it over only seven times in nine home games.

Terry, the 12th man set a world record against San Francisco the other night. Is their effect on opposing teams overrated?

Blount: I used to think it was a bit overblown, but I don’t now. There’s absolutely no question that crowd was a factor in Seattle’s victory Sunday night against San Francisco. It’s just electric in the stadium. The noise level drives the opposing offense crazy and clearly limits its effectiveness. When the Seahawks weren’t very good, the crowd probably wasn’t as big a deal, but this city has gone Seahawks crazy and the team feeds off it.

Michael, Bradley inherited a difficult situation in Jacksonville. How do you think he's handling things so far and what's the general feeling about him there?

DiRocco: Bradley has been consistent in terms of staying upbeat and positive, and that’s just the way he has to handle things in 2013. This is not a very talented team. It’s not going to win many games. Bradley knows that. The GM knows that. The smart fans know that, too. He’s concentrating on laying the foundation for what everyone hopes will only be a three-year rebuilding project. His biggest task this season will be making sure he doesn’t lose the team as the losses pile up, and keeps the players focused on improving. So far, so good.

Terry, do you think it's possible the Seahawks could get caught looking ahead to the Texans game next week in Houston?

Blount: Pete Carroll talked about this Monday, saying the Seahawks look at each game as a championship opportunity. Everyone says that, of course, but I think it works for this team. They realize they are in position to possibly win a championship this season, but one careless slip-up could cost them home-field advantage in the playoffs. And in this case, I think the coaches will emphasize how familiar Bradley is with the way the Seahawks do things, so they don’t get caught off guard.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars know that to beat the Seattle Seahaks on Sunday at CenturyLink Field they’re going to have to handle Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, and the NFL’s top defense.

And the crowd, too.

The fans that pack the Seahawks’ stadium are the loudest in the world. That’s not hyperbole, either. The crowd’s noise registered 136.6 decibels during the second half of Seattle’s victory over San Francisco last Sunday night. According to the team’s official website, that broke the previous Guinness World Record of 131.7 decibels, which was set during a soccer match in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2011.

The Jaguars normally have music playing while they practice, but this week they’re turning it up at the San Jose State University practice field to try and prepare for what will be the most hostile environment they’ll likely face all season.

"It’s just different," running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. "I think every team has crowd noise, depending on how the game goes will depend on how loud they get, if it’s a good game or if you’re winning or losing. Up there, it is a little bit different. The way the stadium is built, it’s a little noisier."

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley is intimately familiar with the problem, only this time he’s on the other side. He was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator the last four seasons and got the advantage of the crowd noise. Now he’s got to figure out a way to handle it.

"They’re a good crowd. They know when to yell and when to be quiet," Bradley said. "It is something that we have to address and make our players aware of especially last week with some of the false starts that we had in Oakland. It’s going to be an even more difficult deal for us this week."

The record crowd of 68,338 actually set the record twice. Former Seahawks defensive lineman Joe Tafoya, who leads a group of fans called Volume 12, was recording the crowd on a decibel meter. It hit 131.9 in the first half and then 136.6 late in the third quarter. According to airportnoiselow.org , that’s equivalent to the noise level found on an aircraft carrier deck.

The site also says a jet taking off 100 meters away would register 130 decibels. A sound at 150 decibels -- a jet taking off 25 meters away -- would result in instant eardrum rupture.

It’s not going to be that bad for the Jaguars’ offensive players, but it could be close.

"You do the best you can to prepare for it and you do have to try to simulate that element in practice but they’ve got a great crowd," guard Uche Nwaneri said. “I think the biggest way to solve that problem is stay on the field and score points, keep them out of the game so that they don’t have such a big effect on our ability to communicate. It can be a factor if you let it, but we’ve got things set up with our game plan that will handle that noise if we’ve got to deal with it.

"The biggest key is being able to understand the concept of the plays and being able to communicate even if it’s not so much verbally with your teammates on the field. You sometimes have to do a little bit of lip reading but this is part of the NFL. You have to deal with hostile crowds in away games."

Defensive players love it when they see the crowd noise bothering an offense. And it does have an effect, especially in Seattle. According to the team’s official website, Seahawks opponents average 2.36 false start penalties per game at CenturyLink Field, and the New York Giants committed 11 in an overtime loss 2005.

But Jaguars cornerback Alan Ball isn’t worried about how the offense will handle it on Sunday.

"When that momentum gets going and they start feeling themselves sand the crowd is there as the 12th man, I definitely see that is it can be an advantage if you use it right," he said. "But if you’ve got a team that’s not worried about it -- like I’m sure our offense will be not worried about the noise -- go in and just execute like they’re supposed to, it has no effect."

Even though the Jaguars are ramping up the volume of music at practice this week, it may not be enough to truly give the offense a glimpse of what it might be like on Sunday.

"Depends on how loud Gus wants to put it up," quarterback Chad Henne joked. "At times it can be just as loud, but you can never know what you’re getting into. If it’s third down or a key play in the game, they’re going to definitely be into it and we have to adjust to it and do the best we can."

Get to know the Seattle Seahawks

September, 17, 2013
9/17/13
2:30
PM ET
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars stay on the West Coast to take on the Seattle Seahawks, who are fresh off an impressive pounding of the San Francisco 49ers.

This is a homecoming of sorts for Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, who spent the past four seasons as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator. He helped the Seattle defense rank in the top five in the NFL in eight statistical categories in his final two seasons.

The Seahawks are still thriving because of the physical defense that Bradley helped construct. They lead the NFL in total defense, passing defense and scoring defense. They’ve allowed only 10 points in two games.

Kickoff is set for 4:25 p.m. ET and the game will be televised on CBS.

Here’s a look at the Seahawks:

Record: 2-0.

Last week: Beat San Francisco 29-3.

Coach: Pete Carroll, fourth season (26-23); eighth season overall (59-54).

Offensive coordinator: Darrell Bevell.

Defensive coordinator: Dan Quinn.

Series record: Seahawks lead 4-2.

THREE PLAYERS TO KNOW ON OFFENSE

RB Marshawn Lynch: Lynch is coming off the best season of his career (1,590 yards rushing) but so far hasn’t been able to be as successful on the ground. He is averaging 3.1 yards per rush, although he has carried the ball 45 times in two games. He has scored three touchdowns (one receiving) and is the focal point of the offense.

Wilson
QB Russell Wilson: Wilson has been efficient in his first two games, completing 63.5 percent of his passes for 462 yards and two touchdowns with one interception for a passer rating of 96.8. He has also rushed for two scores. He appears to be becoming more adept as a passer. He threw for a career-high 320 yards in Week 1 against Carolina.

WR Doug Baldwin: Despite catching only one pass against San Francisco, Baldwin is the team’s leading receiver with eight receptions for 142 yards. He’s also averaging 17.8 yards per catch thanks to his only catch against the 49ers: a 51-yarder. His production will certainly go down once Percy Harvin returns from his hip injury, but for now he’s the Seahawks’ top target.

THREE PLAYERS TO KNOW ON DEFENSE

Sherman
CB Richard Sherman: One of the staples of a Bradley defense is big cornerbacks, and Sherman certainly meets that requirement. He’s 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. But he can cover, too, as he showed Sunday night by helping shut down Anquan Boldin. He pairs with fellow corner Brandon Browner (who has missed the first two games with a hamstring injury but may return versus the Jaguars) to give the Seahawks two of the most physical corners in the NFL.

S Earl Thomas: The unquestioned leader of the secondary is Thomas, who has started 50 consecutive regular-season games since being taken with the 14th pick in the 2010 draft. He has 10 interceptions and has averaged 75 tackles in his first three seasons. Plus, he’s made back-to-back Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro for the first time last season.

LB Bobby Wagner: He was a second-round pick in 2012 who stepped right in and started 15 games as a rookie. He made 140 tackles, intercepted three passes and knocked down three passes. He’s only 6-foot, but he weighs 241 pounds, which allows him to play the run as well as be effective in coverage.

ETC.

The Seahawks could be without starting left tackle Russell Okung, who suffered a toe injury during the first quarter of the San Francisco game. Carroll said Monday it’s unlikely that he’ll play. ... One option the Seahawks are considering, according to ESPN NFL Nation Seahawks reporter Terry Blount, is starting a rookie (Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie) in Okung’s spot at left tackle. Bowie is a seventh-round draft pick out of Northeastern State in Oklahoma and Bailey signed as an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas. Both players were inactive against the 49ers. ... Seattle is 2-0 at home against the Jaguars and has outscored the Jaguars 65-15. ... Wilson has gotten off to slow starts in the first two games, including going 0-for-6 against the 49ers. ... Defensive end Cliff Avril, the Seahawks’ top defensive signee in the offseason, made his debut last week and recorded a sack and caused a fumble.

RTC: Answers are in the locker room

September, 17, 2013
9/17/13
10:10
AM ET
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Jaguars are obviously frustrated after losing their first two games by a combined score of 47-11 and essentially being out of each game by the time the fourth quarter began.

But the solution to their frustrations won't be found by signing free-agent quarterback Tim Tebow, who was the subject of a less-than-impressive rally outside EverBank Field Monday afternoon. Rather, the answers are in the locker room, writes Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. Those answers begin with: stop hurting themselves with penalties, improving coverage on special teams and finding some way to get some consistency in the offense.

“It’s not OK where we’re at right now,” coach Gus Bradley said. “We have to get better and we have a high standard. … The big thing for us is accountability. What are willing to accept and what is our team willing to accept? We’re just trying to figure out, ‘Why is this happening and why is this taking place?’ It comes back to making sure we don’t hurt ourselves.”

Here is some other pieces of Jaguars content from around the web:

Here's my take on Tebow and the Jaguars.

In a move that was anticipated last week, Bradley announced Monday that quarterback Blaine Gabbert will not play against Seattle on Sunday. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew suffered a sprained tendon in his ankle against Oakland but Bradley is optimistic that he'll play against the Seahawks.

A roundup of other items from this blog: the Jaguars claimed cornerback Jamell Fleming off waivers from Arizona and made four other roster moves; running back Jordan Todman is ready for any role; the weekly Upon Further Review examines four hot issues from the loss against the Raiders.

The Jaguars opened as 19.5-point underdogs against Seattle. That's a pretty high number, but Ryan Wilson of CBSSports.com writes that it's not among the top-five largest lines in the NFL since 1972.

Cole Pepper has an interesting take on the Jaguars' biggest issue: other than Jones-Drew and Josh Scobee -- and possibly Paul Posluszny -- the fans don't feel any connection with the players. One way to solve that is have a player do something big in a game that's important, like in the matchup against San Francisco in London.

O'Halloran breaks down five plays that mattered against the Raiders.

The T-U's Hays Carlyon sat down for a Q&A with safety Dwight Lowery. They touched on the team's attitude after the Raiders loss, the play of safety Johnathan Cyprien and the challenge the defense will face against Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.

 

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