1. Health and luck.
There are two common denominators in every recent Super Bowl Champion, and they are health and luck. Every team suffers from some kind of injury during the season, but the teams that go far in the playoffs seem to get healthy at the right time, and quite a bit of luck is certainly involved. The Jaguars have neither been healthy, nor have they been lucky the last few years. Why should we believe that this year is different?
2. Pass Rush.
When the Jaguars signed free agent defensive end Reggie Hayward before the 2005 season, they envisioned a double-digit sack guy coming from one end, and single blocking for Paul Spicer or whomever is playing the opposite end. They seemed to achieve this during the '05 season, as the Jaguars defensive line had 31.5 sacks. As bad luck would have it, Hayward went down with a ruptured Achilles in last years' opener, and it is unclear to everyone how productive he will be in '07, or if he will even play. Bobby McCray can get to the quarterback, but not with the consistency of a healthy Hayward.
3. Experienced Safeties.
Whereas Reggie Nelson and Gerald Sensabaugh are the most athletic safeties in team history, Nelson is obviously a rookie, and Sensabaugh hasn't started a full season. Their inexperience is likely to show against some of the league's best passing attacks.
4. Depth at key positions.
The Jaguars have a very solid roster, but they are thin at quarterback, and in the secondary. Last season proved the need for a backup quarterback that won't lose a game, and David Garrard was up to the task some weeks, and simply wasn't other weeks. The Jaguars need Garrard or Gray to get better, or sign a veteran with experience just in case Leftwich goes down again. The secondary is good and athletic, but one major injury could crush them. Anyone who wonders about the value of cornerback Brian Williams needs only to look at the Buffalo game in which he missed in '06.
5. Playoff Experience.
This current group of Jaguars has only played in one playoff game, a 28-3 beatdown on the road by the defending Super Bowl Champs back in '05. Only two players on the Jaguars roster have even started in a playoff game that their team has won, Fred Taylor and Brian Williams. Most Super Bowl champions don't "come out of nowhere" to win, and the Jaguars haven't experienced enough of the playoffs to think that this current group can win three games in the playoffs.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. Feel free to contact Charlie HERE
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