Jaguars Fans Feeling Better?

Following an abysmal, uninspired performance in the Jaguars 19-14 loss to the Miami Dolphins two Saturday's ago the Jaguars needed a positive outcome last weekend in Tampa Bay. Did they get what they needed?

For the most part, Jacksonville received solid play as their starters outscored the Bucs starters when it was all said and done, and quarterback David Garrard nearly doubled his preseason quarterback rating for what that's worth. Still, there are some questions whether this particular unit is ready for a demanding start to the schedule in which they open with all three division rivals in the first four weeks.

Let's start with the good stuff:
-The starting defense seemed to get a shot in the arm with Reggie Hayward back in the lineup. Hayward didn't do much statistically, as he finished with just two tackles and a forced fumble, but he helped sure up the Jaguars run defense. "I think I did all right," said Hayward. "The hamstring and the Achilles are still attached to my body. The big test is when I wake up in the morning."

-Reggie Nelson could be a legitimate impact player on the Jaguars defense. There are a lot of players in the league who get in position to make big plays, but few of them are actual playmakers. Nelson is an actual playmaker, and if he can freelance a little less, he can be the best player not only in the Jaguars secondary, but on the entire team.

-First-team tackling was very good by the Jaguars. We saw dozens of missed tackles during the preseason, and it was good to see the Jaguars starters be able to wrap up. The backups struggled a bit, but that's to be expected.

-Mike Peterson played like Mike Peterson again. The veteran MLB had a bad night against Miami, in which he was manhandled and looked slow. Peterson played well last Saturday in Tampa.

-The Jaguars wide receivers were sure-handed, and had a few nice runs after the catch. The wide receiving corps has been much maligned over the past several years, and rightfully so. Saturday night, they caught the ball well as a collective group, and Matt Jones and Dennis Northcutt had nice YAC.

-Great kick coverage by special teams. Montell Owens and company were able to get down the field and nullify any chance of a decent return by the Bucs.

-David Garrard was more accurate on short passes.


What is still a concern:
-There was still not much of a pass rush for the Jaguars. Although they were forcing turnovers from the terrible Tampa quarterbacks, they weren't putting much heat on them.

-Check-down offense. Perhaps it was by design, but neither David Garrard nor Cleo Lemon even seemingly looked downfield. Lemon showed no ability to complete anything longer than a few yards past the line of scrimmage, and when Garrard tried to go downfield, he threw a terrible interception.

-The Jaguars starting offense only scored on Tampa's starting defense when they had very short fields due to the turnovers. Points are points, but it's not overly encouraging when the team's first half scoring drives consisted of 18 yards and 27 yards respectively. 55 yards of total offense in the first half from the starters shouldn't have anyone talking Super Bowl.

-The middle of the field on defense was exposed for the third consecutive week. The Jaguars seem to have a real soft spot in their zone right over the middle and bad offensive teams are exploiting that. What happens when they play a team with a good tight end?

-Offensive line was overpowered. The Bucs have a physical defense and they bull-rushed the interior of the Jaguars line effectively. Khalif Barnes was neither great nor bad at left tackle, as Gaines Adams beat him a few times, and Vince Manuwai is having a very poor preseason.

-Undisciplined play. The Jaguars committed 12 penalties for 80 yards including a pair of personal fouls. One of the big reasons why the Jaguars tend to lose close games against division rival Indianapolis is because of their undisciplined play. There's no reason to believe that has changed.

-Maurice Jones-Drew's ankle. The Jaguars most explosive offensive weapon sprained his ankle on his only carry of the game and nobody knows for sure how bad the injury is. If MJD can't go, the Jaguars offense takes a big hit.



Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

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