by Tom Weppel
So…here we go! The NFL regular season cranks up. Here in town, the Jaguars start their season at home, hosting Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos.
Before I go any further, please let me just explain…I HAVE TO use the aforementioned phrase, because that is ALL that is gonna be talked about between now and Sunday afternoon.
I’m not joking.
There are 53 players on this Broncos roster coming in to play the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yet the only discussion will be centered upon Mr. Tebow. Plenty of people will be suggesting the Jags should’ve drafted him, whether he gets to play this season or not. Of course, most of those people saying that are Gator fans….and how can you blame them?
Meanwhile, Tim Tebow has a lot of ‘star’ qualities, without question. He was successful in Gainesville. He carries good, solid, clean attributes…a rarity these days…and he was a winner, plain and simple. That will get you a lot of fans and followers, which has been demonstrated even now, as Tebow’s Broncos jersey has garnered a good amount of sales, before the kid even steps foot on an NFL field.
Still, the jury is out as to whether he will be good at the pro level. For now, there can be speculation all day and all night, but the bottom line is Timmy is untested. THAT is why he is only a back up to Kyle Orton, the Denver starting QB.
All this talk also makes you ask where Brady Quinn is gonna end up. The former Notre Dame standout simply has to wonder what its going on here, and when is he going to get a real chance to start in this League (as is Matt Leinart!).
In the Jaguars case, they obviously felt that, for the present and possibly even near future, drafting Tim Tebow wouldn’t necessarily have been a good decision or a good fit into the roster, scheme, and philosophy of what Wayne Weaver, GM Gene Smith, or HC Jack Del Rio are wanting. And sure, he would’ve been a fantastic draw for the franchise…no question. But I’ll say this…if Tebow had gotten on the field and thrown a few INT’s, or messed up on a couple of scrambles, his popularity would, and will, diminish quickly.
Anyway, as far as Tebow is concerned for Sunday, my feeling is he’ll get 5-10 snaps in the game, and when he does, the crowd is gonna go nuts! We’ll see what he does.
Now, let us get back to the team that really SHOULD be getting some attention….the local boys wearing the teal jerseys…the Jags.
Jacksonville comes off a very disappointing 7-9 record in 2009. They ended the season with four straight losses, making people wonder what this team, this Head Coach (Jack Del Rio), and this franchise, are all about. Since most football fans in this town are COLLEGE fans first, they are used to successful, winning teams (UF, FSU, UGa). Therefore, they cannot accept the Jaguars as they have been.
Since Training Camp, there has been plenty of observation, speculation, and discussion, as to what the boys will be all about this upcoming season. As with any year, there has been turnover, mainly with the Defense, which was not strong at all, especially in creating QB pressure. That is why we have seen changes in personnel, with the D-line (Alualu, Kampman), and the Safeties.
And so it should be interesting to see how these changes will work for Mr. Del Rio. I can imagine he is quite anxious and hopeful, for good production and solid play from that side of the ball, especially since his background experience is primarily on the Defensive side. It is where his prowess should stand out. In recent years, it hasn’t.
The Denver Broncos will be feature a solid passing attack, with talented WR’s, including Brandon Lloyd, Eddie Royal, and Jabbar Gaffney. Kyle Orton does a good job working their spread offense. Denver has also done a good job on Defense, although they are playing the season without their best pass rusher, Elvis Demervil. He will be missed.
This game should be a lot of fun, and certainly entertaining. Vegas is listing the Jags as a 2 ½-point favorite. Look for it to be pretty hot and definitely humid…two aspects the Broncos will have a hard time dealing with, hands down. It could end up wearing the Broncos out.
After a wild first week of games, we move into this weekend with another set of intriguing games with definite implications.
We’ll start with the Gators, who looked quite shaky in their win over Miami of Ohio. A lot of the talk centered on the mistakes displayed by the Offense, especially in the Center/QB snaps. I’m sure there has been a good amount of focus on that aspect during practice this week in Gainesville. Gator fans of course are also placing their attention on the play of QB John Brantley. Urban Meyer will want to see considerable improvement with his boys this weekend. Florida will have another chance to get some play in, at home, against the South Florida Bulls, now coached by Skip Holtz.
In Norman, OK, the Sooners will be hosting FSU. The Seminoles had a dominating performance over Samford last week, while OU struggled against Utah State. Going into this contest, a lot of fans have questions as to how each team can play, which is justified. The outcome should give us a good feel as to what each team can and will do for the rest of the season. Oklahoma is an eight-point favorite…
Finally, we’ll see the Georgia Bulldogs go to Columbia, SC to play Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks. This will be a rough, tough, SEC battle, with both teams displaying their dislike for each other. Georgia will continue to play without their top WR, A.J. Green, which will hurt the ‘Dog offense. USC is a three-point favorite…
Other games of note include Michigan at Notre Dame, Miami (Fla.) at Ohio State, Penn State at Alabama, and Stanford at UCLA…