by Tom Weppel
Random thoughts from a cluttered mind…
After four weeks, the Jags are 2-2. The mediocrity of the record reflects the feelings and attitudes of a lot of their fans in the area. Watching the team perform, there’s plenty of wonderment as to what will happen.
There are times when the Jaguars can be effective on Offense, running the ball as they did against the Colts, with effectiveness. Then there are times when they don’t seem to be able to do squat. On the other hand, you’ve seen QB David Garrard move the team down the field with his passing abilities, as we saw when they played the Texans. Then you’ll see dropped passes to TE Marcedes Lewis or perhaps interceptions here and there that we almost never witnessed last season.
On the other side of the ball, the Defense that we all thought was going to be such a standout group has turned out to be stand out only in that they are on the field a lot more, giving up more yards and more points than we ever imagined. The touting of new Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams hasn’t been close to living up to its billing. Some will blame injuries, but there’s more to it than that. The two highly-paid rookie DE’s, Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves, haven’t had their numbers called out much at all.
And so with 25% of the season gone, the Jacksonville Jaguars certainly have a lot to improve on, if they want to get back into the playoffs again at the end of the season.
The Jags will be home this Sunday evening, hosting the 3-1 Pittsburgh Steelers in an NBC game. Pittsburgh comes into this game having suffered a rash of injuries, especially to their running game, as their top two RB’s are down. They signed veteran Najeh Davenport to fill in. They are also do not have their top two Linemen on Defense. And while QB Ben Roethlisberger has been a warrior, he also is hurting with a bad shoulder.
The Jags have a good chance here to show their local fans and a national audience that they can be a team to reckon with. We shall see what they boys do on Sunday Night.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
With the first month of the season completed, there are quite a few surprises.
No one would’ve predicted the Bills and Titans would be two of the remaining three unbeaten teams left in the League. Buffalo has been done a good job taking care of their business, and the Titans have ridden the shoulders of the veteran QB Kerry Collins.
The marquee stories involve QB’s in the AFC East. Tom Brady is down and out for the Patriots, leaving his duties to one Matt Cassel. Meanwhile, the Jets are riding grizzly vet Brett Favre, who threw a record SIX TD passes last week against the Cardinals. It’ll be interesting to see how both the Pats and Jets do in the next month.
In St. Louis and Oakland, it already seems as if the season is over. Both the Raiders and Rams canned their Head Coaches, and its highly doubtful there will be any rejuvenation for the last twelve games with new coaches.
The dominant Division, without question, is the NFC East. The Cowboys have played well, and the Redskins have surprised a lot of folk by going 3-1. Then you have the 3-0 Giants, who are flying under the radar and simply doing their jobs in a very blue collar fashion. All three should make the playoffs easily.
Otherwise, there is a lot of mediocrity and parity in the NFL, and that’s just the way the League likes it! October will be a month where teams will separate themselves from being the ‘haves’ to the ‘have nots’.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
We’re into October, which means the postseason is here! Eight teams are still playing, and we’ll get down to two in a week or so, to play the World Series.
What I find to be amazingly quirky this postseason, is that of the three major markets that each have two teams, the largest one has no one in the playoffs, while the other two have both!
The Mets and Yankees simply didn’t do the job to play in October. There is plenty of consternation and discussion as to how, why, and who went wrong. I’m sure there will be plenty more in the next six months. Meanwhile, you have both the Cubs and White Sox from Chicago playing, and the Dodgers and Angels are going after it as well! That has, within its own self, set up the possibility of teams from the same city playing each other in the World Series! Its been 100 years since the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. The team they beat? The White Sox, who won it all only a few years ago. To see a Cubs/White Sox Series would be wild and amazing, and it would set Chicago on its ear, without question.
The Angels had the best record of any team in Baseball this season. They were the only team to win at least 100 games. Certainly, the attention will be on them to continue their level of play and go all the way. The Dodgers, however, are more of a glamour team, especially with Manager Joe Torre at the helm. Torre is catching the spotlight, not only since he is continuing his run of being in the postseason, but because he is doing it now with L.A., while the Yankees are sitting at home. And Angels/Dodgers World Series, which could be called a ‘Freeway’ Series, would certainly garner plenty of attention as well.
And so while the Phillies, Brewers, Rays and defending Champion Red Sox are in the mix here, all with a chance to win, certainly the attention will be much more focused on what is going on in Chicago and Southern California.
Last weekend we started to see the top-ranked teams get upset. USC, Georgia, and Florida all quite surprisingly lost their games. Now we see Oklahoma, Alabama, LSU, Missouri, and Texas at the top of the heap. And while they might stay there for a while, you never now when they could succumb to the same experience the others did.
The Sooners travel to Baylor to play the Bears, while the Crimson Tide will host the Kentucky Wildcats. Both are highly favored, and we’ll see how they play now being so highly ranked. In other games, Florida goes to Arkansas to get back on track against the Razorbacks, and the FSU Seminoles go to South Florida to play Miami, a tem that was upset last week by the Carolina Tar Heels. So, while it doesn’t seem as if there are any ‘glamour’ games, don’t be surprised if there is an upset or three.
by Tom Weppel