Jaguars - Cardinals Matchup Analysis

The Jaguars return home for their Jacksonville opener as they take on the NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals. JagNation has you covered as we cover all the matchups and get you prepared for Sunday's tilt.

Quarterback

The Jaguars are hoping to get play out of David Garrard that more closely represents his 2007 campaign rather than 2008. Garrard is playing for his job this season, as the Jaguars may draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2010 draft assuming he doesn't correct his mistakes.

The Cardinals have ageless wonder Kurt Warner at the helm, as he is trying to put the finishing touches on a Hall of Fame career. Warner can make all the throws, and is fantastic at crunch time.

Enormous edge: Cards


Running back

The Jaguars have turned the backfield over to Maurice Jones-Drew, as the dynamic playmaker will no longer have to share the load with the departed Fred Taylor. Behind Jones-Drew, the Jaguars have seventh-round pick Rashad Jennings, and fullback Greg Jones.

The Cardinals spent a first-round pick on former Ohio State star, Chris "Beanie" Wells, to go along with power back Tim Hightower. Wells is being brought into the offense slowly, and Hightower can make tough yards inside and catch the ball out of the backfield.

Edge: Jaguars


Wide receiver

The Jaguars revamped their wide receiving corps by letting go four of their top producers from a year ago. They've replaced them with veteran Torry Holt, and rookies Jarett Dillard and Mike Thomas. The only holdovers from last season are the talented, but oft-injured Mike Walker and speedster Troy Williamson.

The Cardinals trio of receivers are as good as it gets, as Larry Fitzgerald is the best in the game, and Anquan Boldin is as good of a compliment as any in the league. Third wideout Steve Breaston had over 1,000 yards receiving a year ago. Boldin and Breaston are nicked up, so the Cards advantage isn't as exaggerated as it would normally be.

Big edge: Cards


Tight end

Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter vowed to get Marcedes Lewis more involved in the passing game, and the team needs greater production from that position. Aside from the dominant blocking Lewis, the Jaguars are depending on rookie Zach Miller, who won't be available in this game, Ernest Wilford and Greg Estandia.

Arizona's tight ends are quite possibly the weakest position on their offense, as Steven Spach, Anthony Becht, and Dominique Byrd really aren't going to scare any opposing defensive coordinators.

Edge: Jaguars


Offensive line

The Jaguars spent much of the offseason with the focus on repairing a very damaged offensive line from a season ago. Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton will both be opening day starters as rookies, and the team is returning Vince Manuwai from injury. The offensive line should be a strength in 2009.

Arizona's offensive line is a position of concern as they weren't stellar in 2008, and they were quite bad in the Cards season opening loss to San Francisco. The right side of the line is solid with Levi Brown and Deuce Lutui, but everyone else is mediocre.

Edge: Jaguars


Defensive line

The Jaguars have some questions on the defensive line as they will be counting on greater production from last year's first-day picks, Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves. With the loss of Reggie Hayward for the season, the team has more questions than answers at defensive end. On the interior there are just as many questions as John Henderson needs to show that he's not on the decline and the team will be depending on rookie Terrance Knighton and a bigger Derek Landri.

The Cardinals, like the Jaguars are playing a hybrid type of defense. Defensive ends Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett are good, and nose tackle Bryan Robinson recorded a sack in the season opener.

Slight edge: Cards


Linebacker

The Jaguars linebackers may be the best position group on the team, and certainly on the defense. Justin Durant will now play the middle, as Daryl Smith will stay outside opposite Clint Ingram. Those three starters are solid, and Durant has the ability to be spectacular. Brian Iwuh will likely be forced to play if one of the starters goes down.

Arizona's linebacking corps is led by veteran Karlos Dansby, who is a legit playmaker on the inside. Playing next to him is Geno Hayes, with veterans Clark Haggans and Chike Okeafor playing outside.

Edge: Jaguars


Cornerback

The Jaguars corners should be solid as Rashean Mathis had a solid 2008 campaign. Rookie Derek Cox has won the starting job opposite Mathis. Scott Starks will rotate in the role of nickel with free agent Tyron Brackenridge.

The Cards have one of the very best young corners in the game in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and playing opposite him is veteran Bryant McFadden. Michael Adams is also a contributor and even recorded a sack in the opener.

Slight Edge: Jaguars


Safety

The Jaguars have oodles of questions at the safety positions as former first-round pick Reggie Nelson regressed last year, and the team let Gerald Sensabaugh walk in free agency. Free agent acquisition Sean Considine has won the strong safety job, and the newly acquired Brian Russell and Gerald Alexander will back up.

Arizona has one of the very best safeties in the game in Adrian Wilson, who comes at opposing ball carriers with bad intentions. Occupying the free safety position is former corner Antrel Rolle, who is a ball-hawk.

Big edge: Cards


Special teams

The Jaguars should have a solid special teams unit with strong-legged kicker Josh Scobee, and punter Adam Podlesh. The return team could feature rookie Mike Thomas, as well as second-year speedster Brian Witherspoon.

Arizona has the ultra-consistent Neil Rackers as their kicker, as well as veteran Ben Graham at punter. The speedy LaRod Stephens-Howling can return kickoffs, as well as Steve Breaston.

PUSH


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