Final Game Preview: Jaguars at Titans

The five most important things for the Jaguars against the Titans, and the five to look for.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans
Sunday, September 7, 2008, 1:00 p.m.
LP Field, Nashville, TN

2007 records:
Jacksonville- 12-6, Tennessee- 10-7

Series history: Tennessee leads 14-12 (regular season), Tennessee won the only playoff meeting. Last season: teams split.

Five most important things for the Jaguars:

1. The Jacksonville Jaguars must make Vince Young beat them with his arm. The game is really that simple. Young has yet to show anyone in the NFL he can get it done in the passing game. The Titans are a very strong running team (5th in the NFL last season) and have a very good defense. Young however, is not a very good passer. He finished last season throwing 17 interceptions, nearly double the total of his touchdown passes. The Jaguars must slow down the Tennessee running game and force them into 3rd down passing situations where Vince Young has to make a play with the ball in the air.

2. Tackle well. Simply put, the Jacksonville Jaguars cannot miss tackles in this game. Early in the preseason and late last year, the Jaguars defense struggle to bring people down. With Titans rookie Chris Johnson showing he needs just a small crease to take it the distance, the Jaguars must make sure to bring him down, else it could be a long day.

3. Pressure Vince Young from the outside in. As mentioned before, Vince Young is not what most in the NFL would call an adept passer. When he is forced into pass situations, the Jaguars need to put pressure on him and make him make some mistakes, which he often does. Young does however make a lot of plays with his feet, so the team must be aware and keep him from getting outside. That said, the Jaguars still need to make him uncomfortable in the pocket.

4. Make plays in the passing game.
Both defensive game plans will likely be the same, as the Titans defense is likely going to force Jacksonville to beat them through the air. David Garrard struggled in the preseason throwing the ball and Tennessee surely took note. The Jaguars need to be able to hit some plays down the field, as Tennessee is likely to dare the Jaguars to beat them over the top. If David Garrard can have a typical "David Garrard" type day; i.e. completing his passes in chunks and not turning the ball over, the Jaguars should walk away with a victory.

5. Protect the quarterback. As we saw in the preseason, David Garrard's jersey got dirty more often than offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter would've liked to see. Garrard did not look very comfortable in the pocket, and rightfully so, as left tackle Khalif Barnes struggled throughout the preseason. In this game, the offensive line needs to be able to contain defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and defensive ends Kyle Vanden Bosch and Javon Kearse. Barnes especially will need to work extra hard to protect Garrard's blindside since as mentioned, Tennessee is going to force Jacksonville to throw to beat them.

Five things to look for:

1. Chris Johnson.
Can the Jacksonville Jaguars contain the explosive rookie? One of the major faults of the Jaguars linebacker corps is that they tend to overpursue. This was painfully apparently in last season's opener against the Titans where they were able to run the ball for nearly 300 yards. Jacksonville's linebackers must play smart and stay in their gaps, unlike LenDale White and Chris Brown, Chris Johnson can take it to the house on any given play if he has the slightest bit of daylight.

2. David Garrard. The last time David Garrard started in Nashville, he single-handedly lost the game for the Jaguars. Jacksonville held the Titans to under 100 yards of total offense, but Garrard's three interceptions and fumble allowed the Titans to score 21 points and edge the Jaguars out. It will be curious to see how Garrard reacts going back to the stadium where he had his worst day as a starter.

3. Gregg Williams.
The Jaguars showed a lot of blitzes during offseason workouts, however they toned it down during the preseason. It will be interesting to see what Gregg Williams dials up for Vince Young in this game. He was known to stuff the run using the blitz in Washington.

4. Vince Young. As previously mentioned, Vince Young's short comings as a quarterback is passing the ball. Yes, he's labeled as a "winner," despite his abysmal passing statistics, but this is a game Young needs to show improvement if the Titans want a victory. You cannot get by on defense and running the ball for this long in the NFL, eventually the inability to pass will overcome the "just wins" label.

5. Jerry Porter. Jerry Porter is not expected to play in this game, however he has been going at full speed in practice since the middle of last week, by all accounts. We would not be surprised to see Porter take snaps in the game and it will be very intriguing to see what he can do coming off of his surgery. If he is effective even the slightest amount, he opens up a lot in the Jaguars passing game.

Charlie's meaningless prediction: The Jaguars have advantages in all three phases of the game, and although it didn't mean much in last season's opener, I can't see lightening striking twice. If David Garrard plays an average game, the Jaguars shouldn't have too many issues winning the game, as the first team to double-digits will be victorious. Bet the under. Final score: Jaguars 17, Titans 6.

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