NFL Nation: Jordan Black

Final Word: AFC South

November, 26, 2010
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 12:

Heavy heat: The Chargers’ pass rush has produced a league-best 32 sacks. Peyton Manning’s been great at getting rid of the ball, but against a top rushing group there won’t often be a lot of time for things to develop downfield for him. And it appears he will still be missing a top piece of his pass protection, because running back Joseph Addai (neck) is doing only non-contact work in practices this week. The Colts can be super-effective with the short and quick passing game, but if the Chargers can find a big play against it, they could throw Sunday night’s game out of whack. As for deep stuff, Manning has a passer rating of 61.8, and six of his seven interceptions are on balls thrown 15 yards or longer.

[+] EnlargeMario Williams
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesTexans defensive end Mario Williams will be on the mind of Titans rookie QB Rusty Smith.
Watch Williams early: Titans rookie quarterback Rusty Smith has drawn a favorable matchup here, going against the terrible Texans’ pass defense. The Texans simply can’t afford to let Smith find any sort of comfort level early. The best hope for crushing the chance of any building confidence is for Mario Williams to introduce himself with a crushing hit. Deliver a jarring blow early, and Smith might be worrying about the next one for the rest of the game. Allow for good protection early by Michael Roos and the Titans' line, and you allow Smith to scan downfield and find someone, inevitably, running open.

Protecting Garrard: The Jaguars have allowed 24 sacks this season. The Giants have recorded 27. If Jacksonville’s offensive line doesn’t pass protect well, the Jaguars will be in a lot of trouble. Greg Jones and Marcedes Lewis will need to play big roles. It’s a big day for the backups. Either Kevin Haslam or Guy Whimper will play for Eugene Monroe at left tackle. Jordan Black has been the right tackle since Eben Britton went down and will see a lot of Justin Tuck. Fair or not, this game will do a lot for the national perception of the Jaguars. The Giants get as much coverage as anyone in the league and the Jaguars the least. If the Jaguars play well, a lot of people have no choice but to talk about it.

Twelve: At 6-4, the Colts need to win the remainder of their regular-season games to keep their streak of 12-win seasons alive. They’ve won at least a dozen games in seven consecutive years and have quite a lead on the second best streak (Dallas did it four times from 1992-1995). To keep the potential of the streak alive, and more importantly to assure the Colts remain in first place after the weekend, they have to break through against a team that’s been a serious problem recently. Since 2005, San Diego has fared better against Indianapolis than any other team, with a 4-1 record against the Colts, including the playoffs.

Johnson and Foster: The Titans are sure to lean heavily on Chris Johnson in Smith’s debut. If the pass game can be used to supplement a strong run effort, Tennessee won’t have to ask Smith to do too much. On the other side, the Texans have not played their best in the first half of games. The route to faring better there might be getting Arian Foster the ball more. He’s often looked like the best player on the field for Houston, but the Texans have struggled to find the right mix on offense, leaving themselves in position where they’ve had to mount some serious second-half comebacks.
The Jaguars declared Eugene Monroe (concussion) out of Sunday’s game at New Meadowlands Stadium.

Losing a starting left tackle is bad news for anyone.

It’s especially bad news for a team that has not protected especially, is already using its third tackle (Jordan Black) as a fill-in for a starter on injure-reserve (Eben Britton), and is facing a top rushing team.

Undrafted rookie Kevin Haslam and recent addition Guy Whimper are the two replacement candidates.

Marcedes Lewis will probably have fewer chances to run routes as he will have to stay in more to help keep David Garrard upright. Jacksonville quarterbacks have been sacked 27 times this season. The Giants have 27 sacks.

The offense suffers when Lewis can’t get out.

ESPN Stats & Info tells us that Lewis has been especially effective as the lone tight end in three-wide formations this year.

With that personnel on the field, Lewis has 24 receptions on 36 targets with 265 yards and four touchdowns as opposed to 11 receptions, 180 yards and four TDs in all other sets. In three wide, as defenses account for the Jaguars’ additional speed, Lewis has operated well underneath, with 21 of his 23 catches coming on throws of 14 yards or less.

The loss of Monroe suggests the Jaguars won’t be able to spread the field as much as they might like against New York’s rush.

Bye Report: Jacksonville Jaguars

November, 4, 2010
Our 10-point bye report on the Jacksonville Jaguars:

Major issue: Inconsistency. They looked great in wins over Dallas and Indianapolis and did what they needed to against Denver and Buffalo. But they were terrible against San Diego, Philadelphia, Tennessee and Kansas City. To have a chance in the AFC South, the Jaguars will have to be a steadier team in the second half.

Playmaker update: Marcedes Lewis has been outstanding with seven touchdowns in 25 receptions and Mike Thomas is developing well and leads the team in catches. Still, this team needs to develop the stable of guys beyond Maurice-Jones Drew to consistently threaten a defense.

Protection issues: David Garrard plays a lot better when he’s well protected, and the pass protection has been up and down. Right tackle Eben Britton is out for the season, replaced by Jordan Black. In the Dallas game, Vince Manuwai may have wrestled the left guard spot away from Justin Smiley.

Score more: The Jaguars have been outscored 226-165. Jack Del Rio has said a blowout or close loss are the same to him, but they shouldn’t be. Playing well in a loss is much healthier than playing poorly. The only teams with worse point differentials are Buffalo, Arizona, Carolina and Denver. That’s not who you want to be bunched with.

Automatic: Josh Scobee is a perfect 19-for-19 on field goals, and nine of them have been from 40 yards or longer. He’s the only kicker in the league with more than six attempts who’s perfect. And his 59-yarder to win the Colts game on the final play was a kick he’ll have a hard time topping in his career.

Safety concerns: They’ve played them all -- trading one away and cutting another, twice -- and are going with kids Courtney Greene and Don Carey right now. It’s good experience for them, but it’s hard to imagine that this spot won't a huge offseason project. All the uncertainty at safety has made things harder on cornerbacks Rashean Mathis, Derek Cox and David Jones, who haven’t always been as bad as they have looked at their low moments.

Star performance: Maurice Jones-Drew is averaging 4.0 yards a carry, but he actually has more passing touchdowns (two) than touchdown runs (one). He’s got two games over 100 yards and two games under 50. Deji Karim seems to have the coaches’ confidence and can lighten some of MJD's load to ensure he’s as healthy as possible late in the season.

Developing well: Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu are developing into a top-flight interior defensive line tandem. Knighton is remarkably quick for a gigantic man and is a handful for multiple blockers. Alualu penetrates well and is getting better week to week. We’ll mention outside linebacker Justin Durant here, too. He’s played great since returning from an ankle injury.

About those blackouts: Turn your attention to San Diego and Oakland, please. The Jaguars have played four home games and they’ve been on local TV four times. They have issues, but drawing enough people to ensure they’re seen on TV has not been one of them to this point.

What’s to come: Out of the bye, the Jags have home games against Houston and Cleveland. They need good results there, because trips to the Giants and Titans follow.