Jags Must Stop Johnson and Smith

The mission is simple for the Jags on Sunday, win or become the laughing stock of the league, for the second consecutive week. No team has ever played winless teams this late in the season, and certainly no team has ever lost to teams in consecutive weeks with a combined record of 0-16.

Although the talent pool is wide in the NFL, the Jaguars are expected to get a road win this weekend, and if they don't heads will likely roll.

Some compare this week's game for the Jaguars to a collegiate matchup between the University of Florida and a team like Louisiana Tech. Florida gets no credit for a victory other than the mark on their schedule, but they would get lambasted if they lost. The major difference is that in college, the small school doesn't have weapons like Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith. If the Jaguars are going to win the game, they must stop or at least slow down the talented pair of Lions.

"He's a good football player," Del Rio said of Calvin Johnson. "We'll do the best we can to give him attention and make sure that we don't allow him to take the game over."

Del Rio talked about some of the coverage options that the Jaguars must employ this Sunday to slow down Johnson—

"You've got a lot of different options. You put your best guy on their best guy, you can roll coverage to him, you can play it like you always play it and make them operate. There are a lot of different approaches, but certainly, I started out the press conference talking about him first; he's definitely somebody who gets your attention when you put the tape on."

One advantage that the Jaguars will have on Sunday will be the Lions unsettled quarterback situation. There are reports that newly acquired former UCF star Daunte Culpepper may start the game after just a handful of practices with his new team. Culpepper hasn't played in nearly a year, and although he may be healthy, timing will likely be off with his new receivers.

Lions head coach Rod Marinelli gave a glowing recommendation of Culpepper—

"The only thing I can comment on is what I've seen so far from him. He's picked up things pretty well and his arm strength is exceptional. We've got a big old target over there (in Calvin Johnson). He's used to throwing to the big tall guys. So we'll see how we go and we're just pushing straight ahead and seeing where we're at and working all the guys together and we'll make a decision by the end of the week and we'll feel good about it."

Although Marinelli is trying to keep the identity of his starting quarterback a secret until Sunday, the Jaguars have an idea of what to expect.

"Quarterback, we're not sure what they're going to do," said Del Rio. "They're going to try and kind of keep that a secret. We're going to get ready to play their offense. I think it would be impossible to install a completely new offense and have 11 guys be able to function at a high level. So whoever is playing quarterback is going to come in and do what they've been doing and we'll be prepared."

With either Daunte Culpepper or Drew Stanton, or whomever the Lions line up behind center Sunday, their focus will likely be to try and run the football. In the Jaguars last four games, they've allowed big rushing performances to Mewelde Moore, Michael Pittman, Jamal Lewis, and Kris Benson, hardly a stable of great rushers. This week they will have to contend with talented rookie Kevin Smith and veteran Rudi Johnson.

"I think their backs run really hard," Del Rio explained. "I think their line does a good job getting to the second level, cutting people. They got Rudi Johnson formerly of Cincinnati and Kevin Smith from right down the road. They've got kind of two-headed monster there at running back."

Lions head coach Rod Marinelli certainly seems happy with the selection of Smith in the third round of April's draft.

"I really like him. He's explosive. He's quick, he has good vision. This is a really good class of young backs. I think there are five, six, seven young backs who came out of this last round that were all really good and I like him. He is very durable. He had a ton of carries at Central Florida. He loves football. I just like being around him because he really likes the game and he practices that way, he's upbeat. So I think we really have ourselves a legitimate back."

Although Smith is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, which leads all NFC rookies, he has just 70 carries on the season. Marinelli attributes his lack of attempts to the lack of moving the chains by the Detroit offense, which converts on less than 28% of their third downs.

"He's got a swagger to him out there and we just have to keep getting him the ball and hopefully we can get a few more first downs to allow him to get a few more touches," said Marinelli.

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