Entering the season, the Jaguars linebacking corps was perceived as a legitimate team strength and the trio of Mike Peterson, Daryl Smith, and Justin Durant was one of the best in the league, not to mention Clint Ingram coming off the bench. Through a couple games, the Jaguars have seen a myriad of missed tackles and poor position from the second level of the defense.
Middle linebacker Mike Peterson was named a team captain last week and there's no doubt that he's one of the emotional leaders of the team. Unfortunately the leadership that he's been giving the team is more vocal and less by example. Although Peterson tied for the team lead Sunday with eight tackles, he missed several opportunities for big stops, and he looked like a 32-year old playing a young man's game. To Peterson's credit, he refuses to make excuses for his poor play—
"I play linebacker. I've got to make a play, I put it on my shoulders. I don't care if the coaches didn't have us in the right coverage, that's the easy way out."
When Peterson missed the final six games of the regular season last year, the Jaguars defense actually improved statistically. They slid outside linebacker Daryl Smith to the middle, and played Clint Ingram and then-rookie Justin Durant on the outside. Whereas a similar switch may best serve the Jaguars in 2008, it is a little iffy to potentially bench a veteran that's potentially a team captain, just a short amount of time after his appointment to captaincy.
One other issue that would make a potential switch difficult is the physical condition of outside linebacker Justin Durant. Durant had to leave Sunday's game with what's being reported as a strain to his groin.
"No real injuries to speak of with the exception of (Justin) Durant who got a little bit of a groin and tried to go and gave up a play where he couldn't get his guy down and he couldn't well enough to keep going," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters. "So, the fact he was able to go back out and try means it wasn't real bad, but I just don't have an update. We'll know more as the week goes on."
With an 0-2 record and a trip to Indianapolis next weekend, the Jaguars need to do something to fix their offense and defense, before it legitimately becomes a rebuilding year.
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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