Pivotal Week for the Jaguars

Every cloud has a silver lining. This particular phrase applies to the first half of the Jacksonville Jaguars 2007 season.

The bad news is that the Jaguars starting quarterback, David Garrard, is still banged up with an ankle injury, and the allegedly great, physical defense is coming off the worst showing in team history, and things don't appear to get better as defensive tackle Marcus Stroud is likely to begin serving his four game suspension at any time.

The good news is that the Jaguars sit with a 5-3 record, on pace to win 10 games, and that is usually the magic number that will earn a team a playoff spot.

Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio was asked if he was happy with the team's record--

"I couldn't say I'm happy about being here 5-3 today because I think I would have been happy with 6-2, to fight through after starting with a loss. 6-2 would have been good. Right now we are 5-3, that's what we are. You'd like to have more, better, but it's solid. We're a solid football team. You can't allow yourself to dwell on the negatives of one day or the positives of one day. I think if you look at the first half of the year, we've been able to go out on the road and win some tough games. We're battling our way. We're here at 5-3. If you look around the league and stack it up with the whole league, there are teams in worse shape. I think once we get through the drama of the last couple days and start focusing on the Titans, we'll understand there is a lot of football left in front of us and an opportunity to do some good things here."

This Sunday's game in Tennessee will go a long way in determining what kind of team the Jaguars are, and what kind of season they will have. The Jaguars will try to avenge their season opening loss to the Titans, a game in which the visiting team from Nashville "took the Jaguars manhood" as they ran all over Jacksonville for a franchise record 282 yards rushing. The Jaguars need a victory to reverse the trends of porous defense and lackluster play inside the division, as well as to keep pace in the playoff race.

Jack Del Rio commented about the play of the defense--

"We will play better defense in the second half of the season. I don't know that it's ever going to look good statistically after the start we had. You talk about the opening day performance in the run game with Tennessee where they ran up and down the field for a tremendous amount of yardage. Anybody who saw that knows we had issues that day that we had fixed."

Speaking of the playoff race, the Jaguars control their own destiny, and a victory over Tennessee Sunday would leave both teams at 6-3, and the Jaguars would have a 4-2 record in conference (Tennessee would be 3-2 in conference). A loss would leave the Jaguars with a 5-4 record, 3-3 in conference, and looking up at the Titans and possibly a few other teams.

Jack Del Rio commented on the AFC standings--

"If you can take the last two days, the drama involved over the last two days and kind of set that aside and look at where we are, we're 5-3 at the halfway point. Our quarterback is getting healthier; he should return. We have a lot of football in front of us. Clearly we've shown some resolve in this early part of the season, gone out on the road, had a couple big victories. To me as a football team, what we want is in front of us. What we hope to have is in front of us. We need to go out and play good football and take advantage of the opportunity."

Some of the teams the Jaguars should root for this weekend may feel unnatural to many Jaguars fans, but this is how it breaks down. Public enemy number one for Jaguars fans (aside from the Titans) is normally the defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts. This week Jaguars fans should be rooting for the Colts, who travel to San Diego to take on the 4-4 Chargers. With the likelihood of the Jaguars catching the Colts in the division race being somewhere between slim and none, an Indianapolis victory over San Diego would give the Jaguars at least a one game cushion over what could be a possible wildcard contender from the AFC West.

Jaguars fans should also be cheering for their former division rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, as they face the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Cleveland sits with a record of 5-3 (3-3 in conference), identical to the Jaguars, and a loss by the Browns would help the Jaguars cause greatly. Another team that would assist Jacksonville, as well as themselves with a victory is the winless Miami Dolphins, who take on the upstart Buffalo Bills (4-4,[4-3 in conference]). Jags fans should root for the Denver Broncos, who take on the 4-4 Kansas City Chiefs (3-2 in conference), as well as the Cincinnati Bengals who will travel to Baltimore and try to knock off the 4-4 Ravens (1-4 in conference).

Jack Del Rio talked about the Jaguars closing schedule--

"They're all tough. It's a tough schedule. I think from top to bottom, beginning to end, I think it's a tough schedule so we're going to need everybody."

With the Jaguars tough finishing schedule, they can use any help they can get.

Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

For more, go to: JagNation.com

Jags Illustrated Top Stories