by Richard David Smith III
I hate to start off all meta, but those who read my column should not be at all be surprised by the outcome of last weeks game against the St. Louis Rams. The Rams battered the Jaguars 34-20 and, as I warned would be the case, with all else on the two teams nearly balancing out, the difference in this score is the difference between wily, seasoned Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and deer-in-the-headlights newcomer Gus Bradley. The Rams Sam Bradford threw for 3 TDs, 2 to WR Austin Pettis, and beastly Rams linebacker Jeff Laurinaitis (whose name sounds more like a virus you’d catch while having a good time) had 6 solo tackles and an interception. The Rams looked well coached and solid, not looking a bit shaken after falling behind early 7-0 to the Jags on a Gabbert to Blackmon 67-yard TD pass. There is certainly no shame in losing to the Rams, despite the Rams’ 1-3 record going into the contest. They play in a difficult division and are battle tested. As you can tell, I have a lot respect for this scrappy little Rams squad, and I’ll even go out on a limb and predict that they defeat the Texans in Houston as well this weekend.
There were a few bright spots in this one for the Jaguars. Justin Blackmon returned to the field in fine form after serving his suspension for violating the NFL’s BS substance abuse policy, grabbing 5 for 136, including the 67-yard TD. Maurice Jones-Drew looked formidable at 4.1 yards a carry and Cecil Shorts, per his usual, came alive once Chad Henne entered the game after an injury to Blaine Gabbert, catching a 4 yard TD from Less Bad Chad and finishing with 5 for 74. Yes, the ghoulish golem of gimp bit the Jaguars once again. Jaguars rookie left tackle Luke Joekel was carted off with a broken right ankle in the first quarter and is now out for the season. Gabbert, as mentioned, injured his left hamstring in the third quarter and didn’t return. Henne figures to get the start against the Broncos, which is honestly probably just as well. Oh, and speaking of the Broncos (because we must)…
The Jaguars face the Broncos this Sunday on what will end up being a record setting occasion. Odds makers have pinned the Broncos as unprecedentedly magnanimous favorites going into this match up. That’s right, if you are bold enough to throw your sawbucks on the Big Cats this weekend, you will be getting +28 points and perhaps a Papal blessing from your bookie. X’s and O’s wise, there’s not much to analyze here: the Broncos are a seemingly unstoppable offensive Juggernaut and the Jaguars, well…aren’t. One thing is for certain: the Jaguars have become firmly entrenched as a national sports punch line. In political parlance, they are Vice President Joe Biden – a joke by mere mention. There was even a recent ESPN NFL program where the panelists were asked, “Besides the Jaguars, which winless NFL will remain winless after week six?” No one was even allowed to choose the Jaguars because they assumed it was a given that they were going to lose.
The stakes are pretty obvious here, Jags-nation; The Pride of the Jaguars is on the line both literally and figuratively against Peyton and company. With this 28 point spread, Coach Bradley’s team has been made into a statistically self-telling joke, (even the brunt of a late night jab from Jay Leno on the Tonight Show) and it will be interesting to see how the Jaguars’ players, as four TD underdogs, respond in defending their honor in the face of this historically large spread. Their effort against all odds could be very telling of Bradley’s true grasp on the team as well as the team’s respect for him as a coach. As This kind of us-against-the world scenario, much like the best of friendships and marriages, is oftentimes where teams and fan bases are created, strengthened and reunited. Sure, covering the spread would be a moral victory, but winning the game could the shot of Febreeze that finally removes the stench that has been lingering within this organization for quite some time now. In a lot of ways, Jacksonville vs. Denver is the Jaguars de facto Super Bowl. I will leave you with this, from Maurice Jones-Drew…
“I’ve been an underdog my whole life…There’s no way in hell we’re going to back down.”- Jaguars RB MJD, on SiriusXM radio
Jaguars vs. Rams Recap
by Richard David Smith III