by TOM WEPPEL
After five games, I think its safe to say these are not last years’ Jacksonville Jaguars, my friends. Obviously, the boys are a little off-center in a few areas. Their Defense is not as strong as it was last year. Injuries to the DB’s have hurt, and the front seven has not stopped opponents’ running the ball. Is new Coordinator Gregg Williams to blame?
We know the Offense hasn’t been totally up to par. The OL has been decimated by injury, which has affected the running of Fred Taylor and Maurice Drew. Of course, Drew has had a bad wheel as of late. Taylor, I believe, has lost a little bit, especially right when he gets the handoff and simply stops. That’s not what I thought RB’s were taught to do. But the main personnel question I have is with the wide outs. In the last two weeks, veterans Dennis Northcutt and Troy Williamson have been on the shelf as inactive, even though they could play AND ARE GOOD! We haven’t seen anything out of Jerry Porter yet, who was great in Oakland for so long, and David Garrard hasn’t thrown much to Reggie Williams. Matt Jones has been the only main WR target, with help last week coming from Mike Walker. I would imagine with that corps of receivers, you could do a lot more than what we’ve seen so far.
Jack Del Rio states that his team simply has to play better. “Oh, really, Jack?” C’mon! Your job is to have these guys playing their best, consistently, all the time, right? So, I guess that means you’re not doing YOUR job!
Look. Del Rio can’t do anything about injuries to players, except do his best to find other players to get on the field and do a good job. If he can’t find good players, it presents problems that we are seeing right now. I will say this…if the Jags stay on this course, we’ll be looking at 9-7 or 8-8 at the very best, with no playoffs.
This weekend the Jags go out to Denver to play the 4-1 Broncos, a team they played last season, and beat, in Denver! But that was last year, and the Broncos, while not necessarily dominant in their games, have been effective enough to win. QB Jay Cutler has connected to his two WR’s, Eddie Royal and Brandon Marshall. The Jags must shut that passing down, then try their best to create turnovers and score. We’ll see if Jack Del Rio can get his troops back on track.
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Without much recognition, Tom Coughlin has his New York Giants on a roll this season. They have beaten up a couple of their opponents, much like last week, when they tore up the Seahawks, 44-6. While everyone is trumpeting the Cowboys and Redskins on their play, the G-men have the best record of the three. Eli Manning is having a field day with the passing game, and that opens things up for the RB’s to do their stuff as well. With the Offense playing so well, it also makes things that much more fun for the Defense to take care of their business. People can focus their attention on Brett Favre and the Jets, or Tony Romo and the Cowpokes, but the New York Giants are the team to beat in the NFL these days, and that might not happen any time soon. This week they travel to Cleveland to beat up on the Browns on Monday night. If these guys keep it all up, they’ll be in the playoffs with no problem, and then it’ll get even more interesting…
Meanwhile, three teams in the League still are winless, and they all face tough opponents this weekend. The Lions go to Minnesota, who come off a good win against New Orleans. The Bengals are in New York to play the Jets, who have gotten savvy in their play. And the Texans host an upstart Miami Dolphin squad that is 2-2. Maybe one of those three will get their first victory. We’ll see…
This weekend we have a nice cache’ of games ready to go.
#1 Oklahoma gets a nice test, playing their long-time rival Texas Longhorns in Dallas. That should be a good battle between two undefeated squads. Of local interest, the Florida Gators will entertain the LSU Tigers in an SEC scrap. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top in that one. The Georgia Bulldogs will host the Tennessee Volunteers in Athens. The ‘Dogs are ready to play, after a bye week. The Vols are having a rough season so far, and a loss would drop them to 2-4!
Other games of note include undefeated Penn St., who goes to Wisconsin to play the fiesty Badgers, a nasty #2 Missouri Tiger team hosting #17 Oklahoma St., and #7 Texas Tech, which gets a chance to show their mettle by entertaining the Nebraska Cornhuskers. By the end of play on Saturday, we’ll have a lot better idea of who should be at the top of the heap.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
We’re down to the final four teams in the Championship Series, all who are playing for a right to get into the World Series.
In the American League, we see a tough rivalry between the defending champion Boston Red Sox, and the upstart Tampa Bay Rays. The Red Sox come into this after beating the team with the best record in Baseball, the Angels. Boston obviously has the experience and the veteran leadership that is helping them at this time of the year, when it counts. But Boston never seems to play well on turf, and the Rays had the best home record of any team in the League this season. Tampa has the home field advantage, and they played well in their Series win over the White Sox. So it should be interesting to see how this plays out.
In the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies are playing the Los Angeles Dodgers. L.A. came off their series with the Cubs on a nice roll. They are hitting and pitching well, and Joe Torre has everyone locked and loaded. For Philly to win, they will have to overcome the momentum the Dodgers have built.
One item of note…if Boston and L.A. both win, it would create a huge story with Manny Ramirez, who would be THE player we’d hear the most about. We’ll see how the soap opera plays out.
by TOM WEPPEL