In sports, the phrase “moral victory” is tossed around loosely and far too often without any true meaning behind it. If there was ever an instance where that platitude fit perfectly, then it was in theJaguars 35 – 19 defeat at the hooves of theDenver Broncos last Sunday. The Jaguars stepped up in a big way to show that they were willing to fight for both their literal and figurative pride. With aPaul Posluszny interception and TD return of aPeyton Manning pass, the Jaguars were one failed two-point conversion away from entering the half tied against the best team in the AFC, down only 14-12 at halftime. In this valiant effort,Gus Bradley and the rest of the coaching staff passed a huge test in showing that they could get their team up for any game against even the fiercest of competition in hostile territory. The Jaguars got the imperfect game that they needed out of the Broncos in order to pull of the huge upset, but in the end made too many mistakes of their own and left too many points on the field to smoke the victory cigar.
The Jaguars defense was ferocious and managed to keep Manning under duress all day. After the game, some ESPN analysts even went as far as to suggest that the Jaguars may have created a template for other teams to follow when dealing with the perpetual scoring machine that has so far been the 2013 Broncos. At one point, the Broncos even busted out a fake punt to get a first down on a fourth-and-long – something no one dreamed the Broncos would be doing during a game in which they were 27 point favorites. That bit o’ trickery was a sign of respect from the Broncos if there ever was one. Former University of Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno, despite only 42 total yards on the ground, took over in the second half with 3 rushing TDs to seal the Broncos victory.
On the offensive side of the ball, Henne passed for 303 yards (more than Manning had) and Jones-Drew ran for 71 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. Sadly, for Jaguars fans who are used to the explosive greatness of Jones-Drew, around 70 yards seems to be what MJD tops out at these days, particularly behind this offensive line. Rumors are starting to spread around the league that Jones-Drew can be had in a trade for the right price—and it’s probably just as well given the rebuilding stage that the Jaguars are currently in (again).
The offensive star on both sides of the ball in this contest was wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who caught a mind-boggling 14 passes to go along with a whopping 190 yards. He is beginning to establish NFL value that justifies his selection in the first round, and he reminds me of a young Terrell Owens. This is big news. Having a dynamic, nearly uncontainable number one WR can be the basic building block of an entire offense in today’s pass-happy NFL. Like powerhouse RBs used to be back in the day, unstoppable WRs can be the foundation around which an entire offense can be built (see: The Texans, Lions, Cardinals, etc.). One thing is for sure, whoever the future QB of the Jaguars happens to be, he will be set at 1 and 2 WR in Blackmon and Shorts III. Throw a Johnny Football into the picture, and suddenly the future looks bright for the Jags.
Jaguars vs. Chargers Preview
This Sunday offers an intriguing match-up against the San Diego Chargers, who are coming off of a close, scrappy 19-9 win at home on Monday Night Football against the Indianapolis Colts. The short week and cross country trip for the Chargers presents what could be a sneaky-winnable game for the underdog Jaguars. While he usually puts up eye-popping numbers, Philip River – the modern day Dan Marino in both form and function – is the sort of quarterback who can become flustered and will ultimately beat himself if the Jaguars can blunt his confidence by creating just a few opportunistic turnovers in critical situations. Moral victories are swell and all, but they eventually have to translate into real W’s. Last Sunday might have provided the jolt needed to beat the Bolts.
Lots of news coming out of the nation’s capital these days. No, I’m not talking about the government shutdown (which ended as of this writing), but rather the push from multiple sources for Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to change the name of his team, citing its offensiveness towards Native Americans. To be honest, this change is probably long overdue, and I would like to throw my own hat into the ring of new name suggestions: The Washington Pork Barrels. It’s fitting, given the city, and it even pairs better with their famous “Hogs” nickname.